Xinran · 256 pages
Rating: (6.9K votes)
“Everybody says women are like water. I think it's because water is the source of life, and it adapts itself to its environment. Like women, water also gives of itself wherever it goes to nurture life....”
“I received no praise for the rescue of this girl, only criticism for "moving the troops about and stirring up the people" and wasting the radio station's time and money. I was shaken by these complaints. A young girl had been in danger and yet going to her rescue was seen as "exhausting the people and draining the treasury". Just what was a woman's life worth in China?”
“(As a "grandchild of a capitalist household":)
At school, I was forbidden to take singing and dancing lessons with the other girls because I was not to "pollute" the arena of the revolution. Even though I was short-sighted, I was not allowed to sit in the front row in class because the best places were reserved for the children born to peasants, workers or soldiers; they were deemed to have 'straight roots and red shoots'. Similarly, I was forbidden to stand in the front row during PE lessons, though I was the smallest in the class, because the place nearest the teacher were for the 'next generation of the revolution'.”
“(While interviewing The University Student:)
'Oh, poor Xinran. You haven't even got the various categories of women straight. How can you possibly hope to understand men? Let me tell you. When men have been drinking, they come out with a set of definitions for women. Lovers are "swordfish", tasty but with sharp bones. "Personal secretaries" are "carp", the longer you "stew" them, the more flavour they have. Other men's wives are "Japanese puffer fish", trying a mouthful could be the end of you, but risking death is a source of pride.'
'And what about their own wives?'
'Salt cod, because it keeps for a long time. When there is no other food, salt cod is cheap and convenient.”
“(While interviewing at the Hunan women's prison:)
'I have lived with several men, and let them amuse themselves with me. Because of that, I have been sent to two labour reeducation camps and been sentenced to prison twice. (...) When people curse me for having no shame, I don't get angry. All the Chinese care about is "face", but they don't understand how their faces are linked to the rest of their bodies.”
“(While interviewing The University Student:)
'Good Chinese women are conditioned to behave in a soft, meek manner, and they bring this behaviour to bed. As a result, their husbands say that they have no sex appeal, and the women submit to oppression, convinced the fault is their own. They must bear the pain of menstruation and childbirth, and work like men to keep the family when their husbands don't earn enough. The men pin pictures of beautiful women above the bed to arouse themselves, while their wives blame themselves for their care-worn bodies.”
“Writing is a kind of repository and can help create a space for the accommodation of new thoughts and feelings. If you don't write these stories down, your heart will be filled up and broken by them.”
“No matter how revolutionary people were, he said, they could not live without books. Without books, we would not understand the world; without books, we could not develop; without books, nature could not serve humanity.”
“Men want a woman who is a virtuous wife, a good mother, and can do all the housework like a maid. Outside the home, she should be attractive and cultivated, and be a credit to him. In bed, she must be a nymphomaniac. What is more, Chinese men also need their women to manage their finances and earn a lot of money, so they can mingle with the rich and powerful. Modern”
“Just what are women, exactly? Should men be classed in the same species as women? Why are they so different? Books and films may say it is better to be a woman, but I cannot believe it. I have never felt it to be true, and I never will.”
“Mentre scrivo queste righe a Sydney, una splendida coppia di pappagalli verdi con il petto arancione è accovacciata sul tetto dell'edificio accanto e sta nutrendo il proprio cucciolo.
Se gli uccelli possono provare un simile sentimento e non abbandonare mai le loro creature, com'è possibile che degli esseri umani rinuncino ripetutamente ai loro figli?”
“أما الفلسفة التي تملكها النساء؟
ما السعادة بالنسبة للمرأة؟
وما الذي يجعل المرأة امرأة صالحة؟”
“عندما نجول داخل ذكرياتنا فإننا نفتح بذلك بابا على الماضي، الطريق في داخله ملئ بالأغصان وتختلف الدرب فيه كلمرة.”
“ MR LEWIS Mr Brightman, would you have”
“I feel a bit apprehensive as I see that he's looking directly at me. But I'm not doing anything wrong, am I? I mean, it's not like stalking is against the law.
Oh. Well, OK, maybe stalking is against the law. But I've only been doing it for five minutes. Surely that doesn't count. And anyway, how does he know I'm stalking anyone? I might just be sitting here for my pleasure.”
“at your weakest, you end up showing more strength; at your lowest, you are suddenly lifted higher than you’ve ever been. They all border one another, these opposites and show how quickly we can be altered.”
“You’re thinking about him naked, aren’t you?”
She patted my arm. “And to think—I was actually hesitant about dating him. Oh, and speaking of which. Chaps. Enough said.”
“Who is this woman, and what has she done with my ever worrying mother?”
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