July 23, 2014

Hong Chun Zhang

1. My Grandmother’s Cage

The cage represents the patriarchal society that kept women bound to the private space within the home. Grandmother also had bound feet. The practice that crushed the bones and deformed the feet of young girls so they can have the outward appearance tiny delicate feet. The goal was to have a “Three Inch Golden Lotus” (sancun jinlian), but the actual result was unbelievable pain that lasted a lifetime. In this picture, grandmother is sewing a normal size pair of cotton shoes because her daughter was the first women in her family to break the cycle of bound feet.

2. My Mother’s Cage

Unlike my grandmother, the cage door is open. Mother had more freedom as a women in the Communist Chinese society. Her feet were not bound and she had a number of career opportunities. Still, my mother did not have the frredom to say or do what she wanted. Her cage was the restrictions of the day and Maoist Thought, especially during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The Chinese character on the cup is (weibing or hongweibing); the Red Guard.

3. My Cage

Compared to my grandmother and my mother’s generations, Chinese society has progressed and the situation for young urban women in China has improved. The cage is open and I can sit on the outside. The Chinese character on the cup is fu meaning good fortune.

Also notice that the feet are uncovered and slightly exaggerated (larger than normal).

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