The three-inch golden lotus
The three-inch golden lotus
Notwithstanding that nowadays China is the most developed country of Asia with equality of the both sexes, it seems to go through a lot of problems in its struggle in order to give women more rights. Females have been always suffering discrimination. One of the reasons why the rights of women were cut down is the fact that woman’s body differs much from man’s. This paper focuses on how female body is abused by male sexual desire. I argue that female body is the most important factor in determining their social position and even their role as a family member because education is hardly available for women.
I approach the issue by examining male character’s different reaction to the differences of female characters’ body in the novel “The three-inch golden lotus”. Also I will compare and contrast how bound feet effects main female characters’ role as a family member. Although female body was not physically abused by men, it often became core objects of men’ issues. Also men were the ones who make decisions for whether the foot is good enough or not, for their standard level. Lu Xian-qing, one of a judge from the foot competition, once said “[if] the feet are good, who cares for looks?
Focus on the feet, and ignore the face. One cannot mind both at the same time” (Feng 61). As shown above, feet were the most important factor of anything else in female body in ancient China. Also, surely, judges for the competition were all men. During the competition, four judges, who were all males, “stopped in front of each door [of women’s], admiring, scrutinizing, critiquing, and criticizing each pair of bound feet” (Feng 63) In such “foot competition”, female part of body became an observable object of men.
Fragrant Lotus, the main female 3 character of the novel illustrates how embarrassed she was by saying “her heart jumped, and, [about to pull in her feet]” (Feng 63). Although males were abusing female body by having it as object for observation, females were the ones who drove themselves into such situation. If males were abusing females’ body psychologically, females were abusing their bodies physically. There is even a song sung by women. For example, Miss Bigfoot’s song “Bind your feet small, a scholar you shall marry. Then you’ll eat white bread, meat, and veggies. Bind your feet big, a blind man you shall marry.
Then you’ll eat cornbread and hot peppers daily” (Feng 22) shows that they considered foot binding to be a one criteria that determines social status. In spite of the consequences of broken bone pain in the mythical saying spread among women,, Fragrant Lotus says “[bind] them! Tighter! I want that kind” (Feng 22). Fragrant Lotus’ grandmother even says one day “[if] I’d been too soft [binding your foot], you would’ve gated me when you grew up” (Feng 22). Therefore physically abusing female body was considered to be a some kind of tradition in ancient Chinese female society not only by males, but also by females.
As feet are the most important feature that determines women’s life in ancient China, the result of the foot competition also affected one’s role in life. Although Fragrant Lotus was a first daughter in law, because of the result of the competition, Golden Treasure’s, the second daughter in law, manner turned harsh on her. “In the Tong Family if your feet are bad, you are finished. This family [is] like a chessboard, and bound feet are the individual chessman” (Feng 73). Although reality cannot be compared to the game, however due to one false action, the game changes completely.
Golden Treasure’s politeness is completely gone, 3 and she even kicks her husband out from the house. On the other hand, for defeated Fragrant Lotus, loosing in a competition was another reason to get abused by her husband. Tong, Shao-rong, Fragrant Lotus’ husband becomes crazy about the fact that she is not a winner of the competition and “grabbed a cleaver and came at Fragrant Lotus, saying he had to open her belly to look at the feet of the baby” (Feng 77). Although she was a second place in the competition, everyone treated her as if she had biggest feet in the world.
However it is ironic that although Fragrant Lotus was a slave of feet for many decades, she is against the idea of un-bind foot. Fragrant Lotus always wanted to have free feet and she does not want her daughter to go through same pain as she did, however she is a representative of re-bound feet society. As a one of victims of being sexual object of men, she does not differ much from those who prefers savage customs by supporting idea of re-bound feet. It is understandable that she is doing it for women to go through less pain because un-bind feet are more painful for those of women who already had their feet bound.
However by supporting idea of re-bound feet, it shows that Fragrant Lotus is one of the invisible physical abusers in the society. Males were definitely dominant figure in ancient Chinese society. Based on Confucianism, males are having more power than women. However it is very offensive that males use their power to determine female’s social status. Unfortunately, it is not only males that makes females sexual objects for observation but is also females themselves. Females need to protect their body and take care of themselves in order to prevent males’ abusing.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 December 2016
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