For daughters, marrying out is a little like dying. We say goodbye to our parents, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, and the servants who cared for us, and go into an entirely new life, where we live with our true families, where our names will be listed in our in-laws' ancestral hall. In this way, marriage is like experiencing death and rebirth without having to travel to the afterworld. (88)
"Never let them tell you that women didn't write. They did," she said. "You can go back more than two thousand years to the Book of Songs and see that many of the poems were written by women and girls. Should we assume that they produced those poems by merely opening their mouths and mindlessly spouting words? Of course not. Men seek fame with their words--writing speeches, recording history, telling us how to live--but we are the ones who embrace emotions, who collect the leftover crumbs of seemingly meaningless days, who touch on the cycles of life and remember what happened in our families. I ask you, Peony, isn't that more important than writing an eight-legged essay for the emperor?" (214)
We usually hear that in the past there were no women writers, no women artists, no women historians, no women chefs, but of course women did these things. It's just that too often what they did was lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up. So when I had a moment here or there, I looked up whatever I could find about the lovesick maidens and came to learn that they were part of a much larger phenomenon.
In the mid-seventeenth century, more women writers were being published in China's Yangzi delta than in all the rest of the world at that time. By that I mean there were thousands of women--bound-footed, often living in seclusion, from wealthy families--who were being published. (275)
The thrust of that article had to do with finding my inner lovesick maiden. I have to admit it wasn't very hard, because I'm obsessed most of the time, but the assignment forced me to look inward and examine what I felt about writing and the desire women have to be heard--by their husbands, their children, their employers. At the same time, I thought a lot about love. All women on earth--and men too, for that matter--hope for the kind of love that transforms us, raises us up out of the everyday, and gives us the courage to survive our little deaths: the heartache of unfulfilled dreams, of career and personal disappointments, of broken love affairs. (280)
What did you think of this list?