Tag Archives: China

Something to read and something to listen to: "Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother" & Ursula Franklin

I’m told that the March 8 (international women’s day) edition of the CBC Radio program The Current has something for those of you in need of an Ursula Franklin fix.  Now 89, Franklin (public intellectual, scientist, Quaker, pacifist, and feminist) was on the show with two other women (including Erin Cardone, a BC reporter who thinks that Feminism has Gone Too Far).  Apparently Franklin’s thoughts are (as usual) standouts for her ability to marry clarity and complexity.  Here’s her wikipedia page, and here’s the link to the radio programme, on the theme “Women’s Work and the State of Feminism”.  And here is a review of The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map by my colleague Mary Jane Mossman, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2007.

For lawyers and others, Franklin’s essays offer much needed inspiration, as well as concrete suggestions on how to use her maps of pacifism and feminism to help achieve justice, “step by bloody small step.”

The same edition of the Current, March 8, has an powerful story on the non fiction book by Xinran, Message from An Unknown Chinese MotherHere is a review from the Financial Times of London.

Abortion is illegal in China. So is infanticide, but girls don’t qualify for the regular grain ration allotted to other family members, nor for the official grant of land reserved for their brothers. Their weddings cost money and, once married, a woman works for her parents-in-law – not her own parents. “I was ridding the family of a calamity,” said a former midwife, describing how she disposed of unwanted girls.

None of the women who told her their stories was heartless. Their lives were corroded, in many cases ruined, by suppressed feelings that poured out to Xinran, who founded and ran for seven years in the 1990s the first Chinese radio programme for women to call in and talk about their problems. Stringent economic and social sanctions governed their lives and eliminated choice. [source]

My colleague who pointed me to this story has two daughters.  So do I.  And, of course, can’t help but think it, so does Amy Chua.  Ok, lots of people have two girls (Michelle Obama!), I know it. But perhaps it gave this story a special sting for me.

I thought I knew China, that I knew Chinese women — because I’m a Chinese woman. My mother is a Chinese woman. I was very shocked when I went to China’s countryside for the first time, when I witnessed these kinds of killings.” [source]