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Thu, Dec. 15th, 2005, 11:27 pm

I'm writing a paper on Chinese women's experiences in the 1940-50's Communist take over. I've found primary sources that are all positive about the changes made by the Communist party. The women who've written these sources all praise the liberation and freedom they received as a result of the changes made by the Communists. However, most of my secondary sources point out many negative effects of the Communist party. For example, even though the Land Reform promised land to women, many women still did not actually get to hold land in their name (so claims the secondary source.)

My question is this: Why can't I find primary sources that talk about the negative aspects for women during the Communist reforms? Do you know of any I could use? Or, is it possible that the women who had negative experiences would not have access to record their experiences? Perhaps they were the illiterate, etc,?

Thanks :)

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 07:05 am (UTC)

As I know,those women who did not actually hold land in their name, maybe because they have no name. Most women in china have no name before 1949, except few women from carriage trade.
It seems you thought the negative aspects were defiladed.There are usually, but maybe the answer is different this time. :)
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Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)

I had the same thought too. However, even accounts written by women after they have immigrated to the US are positive.

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 09:16 am (UTC)

I agree with them. And it's 1945-1949, if there's a woman having negative experiences, she would at least have been a teenager, therefore make her at least seventy years old now. I don't think there're a lot of 70 years old speaking English in China. At least my grandma don't. She can speak a little Japanese, for we live in Heilongjiang, has been invaded and occupied by Japan in 1930s.
Besides, in 1930s and 1940s normal women didn't have an opinion. They served and obeyed their fathers, husbands, and even their sons. Those had an opinion tend to join the revolution, or being a part of the object of revolution. You can say their opinion is biased.

And, why oh why oh why all those English speakers I met online hopelessly against Communist Party? Is there something wrong with me? I can honestly say I love CCP. And I haven't grown any horns or tails yet. It's frustrating!

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 10:05 am (UTC)

I think it had to do with the cold war and America portraying the "Godless Commies" as their justifiable enemies for so many years. And then there are the cases in China of the Great Leap famine, and the cultural revolution that people hate, and the fact that it's not a free democracy. However with all that said, I think for the most part women's life's under the communists was probably much fairer and better than it was under the warlords and the late Imperial dynasties. The laws of divorce and education all improved in their favor. I think China today is probably a lot more egalitarian than it was a 100 years ago, but like all countries in the world today, still has a way to go before there is true equality among the sexes.

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 04:16 pm (UTC)

Thanks for your reply. It helps put things into perspective to me. The reason I decided to do this topic is because I feel that the CCP did an immense amount of good for women. I was just hoping to find the documents that back up what these western historians are claiming.

Yes, you're right. We Americans are usually against the Communist Party. You have to understand that we're taught how "evil" Communism is from the time we are small children. My dad was in the US Army and growing up I attended military run schools. We spents weeks on Communism, even when I was in elementary school. However, as I've become an adult and have had a chance to learn and research on my own, I do realize that I was taught a lot of "propoganda" against communism.

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 04:47 pm (UTC)

Thank you for your post! It is very hard to live in the US with a positive image of the CCP. I lived for a while in China and have done extensive research on Chinese history and I am very glad that I am able to see the true aspects of the CCP, past the demonization the US gives it. The US has brainwashed Americans into thinking that socialism and communism are always evil. I can't tell you the number of people who will wear a "Free Tibet" pin but have NO CLUE about the actual events surrounding the region.

As for the CCP and women, the CCP has made great strides in giving women so many more rights than they had before! I wish every body in the US could spend some time in China and see that the CCP is not evil at all.

Thu, Jul. 13th, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)

Thanks for your comment. I recognize that there are both good and bad aspects of the Communist party. However, to many of my relatives, the bad out-weigh the good. This varies from one individual/family to another.

There is corruption within the system. However, the Communist party improved the freedom and rights of women immensely. I have to say, most women in that time were not likely to oppose the Communist party. Sometimes, the officials went SO much in their favor that it became unfair to the men. For example, a teenage guy got executed by the Communist party because he was flirting with a random girl on the street by grabbing her, placing her on the back of his motorcycle, riding for 5 seconds, and then letting her down while laughing. The woman got frustrated and reported it to the officials.

My dad broke up with a girl that really loved him, but he knew that he didn't love her and they weren't really a match. He would've been arrested after the girl came back and began talking--he was saved by the pleading and justification made by his fellow professors.

A mentally disabled guy was running around in women's clothing and flashed a group of school girls. He was executed.

So, yes, it was good that the CCP drastically improved the lives of women (ie. abolishing "little wives" and whatnot)... sometimes it got extreme.

I think the main appeal of the CCP when it first began was that it had the power and potential to make China powerful once again, after she suffered giant physical and emotional blows from Imperialism and Japanese occupation.

So there's both good and bad.

Oh, she also holds good intentions by population control (I hate people who argue with this, because the demography clearly shows the deleterious affects that overpopulation would cause). However, no extreme cause goes without negative and strict means. (ie. forced abortion of 7 month old babies and burning houses of people who have more than 2 children).

China is an interesting case. She fits the Machiavellian phrase perfectly, "The ends justify the means."

Oh, the case in Tibet is pretty much the same. The intentions of the Chinese are pretty good for the most part; for having always regarded Tibet as "part of China" the CCP had the intention of "modernizing" (CCP regards this as good in their perspective) Tibet. However, it is the minor companies and officials that are "corrupt" that take into account their own personal interests as primary.

It's not that simple with China. Lol. But I agree with you about those people with "Free Tibet" shirts. It's really dumb seeing as the dealings within China are very private, the people who know the most are the bystanders that live there. It's easy to spot corruption and intention if you have the right sources.

"Free Tibet" is okay compared to certain people I've known who think that the Japanese warcrimes, namely the Rape of Nanking, were a result of CCP Propaganda. Which is really scary to suggest it. However, it is a result of the CCP reputation in the West.

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 09:59 am (UTC)

Most of the sources I think you will find will be in oral history projects. It depends where you are and what language you are looking to figure out how much you can find. I have researched nothing on modern China I'm afraid, I prefer Tang dynasty and before, but two books were discussed in my research methods class, one was Chinese Lives, the author has just written a second book, and the other is by Neil J. Diamant called "Revloutionizing the Family" he looks at primary Chinese sources no one had access to previously. The flaw with the book is that the number of sources he uses is rather limited and he doesn't explain why. But he took the perspective that it was a much more positive experience for women than any other historians had said.
One thing I think you need to be carefull is trusting the secoundary sources more than the primary. If the primary sources say that life was better then there may be something to that. I would look at the footnotes and sources of the secondary sources that are saying it's bad and find out what they are basing these conclusions on, as it has to be more than simply not liking the communists. I would just be careful of "source mineing" looking for the perspectives that only support your idea. It might make you paper more interesting to say, I originaly thought this, and the secoundary soures agreed with me, however what I found was this. There are so many people ready to disnounce communism, the idea that it's impossible to speak out against the regime so that's why there is only positive sources might not hold up to closer investigation.
But best of luck, sounds like a very interesting topic!

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)

In looking at the footnotes, it seems most of the authors are simply quoting other historians or scholars, and not actually quoting primary sources. That's what sent me on this search. I was wondering where the western scholars got their info from? I would hope they weren't simply going on hear-say.

I was also thinking of going the route you suggest. I agree, it is important not to try and manipulate the sources to support ones ideas. We're after the truth!

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 01:45 pm (UTC)

I wrote my undergraduate thesis on social reform in Maoist China, paying particular attention to the new marriage law and its implementation. You're right about primary sources--there simply aren't any Chinese publications, interviews, etc that talk about the negative effects of these reforms.

To get that point of view, you must look west. One helpful source is located in the Library of Congress on microfilm. The American Consolate in Hong Kong produced thousands of documents chronicling Chinese media and internal news reports during the 1940s onwards. The documents are really fascinating. Here's one of citation from my thesis. This one dealt with the government's preparations for publicizing the marriage law.

Survey of People's Republic of China Press and Selections from People's Republic of CHina: Current Background 13 June 1950 - 1977, Hong Kong: American Consulate General. NARA: Microfilm01326, Reel 6.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC)

Thanks so much. I'll check that source out straight away. Although, it does sound like you've already written my paper for me. Just email it, I'll turn it in instead.

Kidding, I'm just kidding :)

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC)

There are some popular books--Wild Swans comes to mind. I have heard some horror stories about the cultural revolution from some friends, but I'm guessing you're looking for more scholarly work.

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 04:55 pm (UTC)

You can get many different perspectives from the following sources, although many of them don't focus on women (I put ** next to the ones that do) I think it is good to get a general background on the era before focusing on one group.

Becker, Jasper, Hungry Ghost: Mao’s Secret Famine, (New York: The Free Press, 1996)

Chan, Anita, Chen Village Under Mao and Deng, (Berkley: University of California Press, 1992)

Cheek, Timothy, Mao Zedong and China’s Revolutions, (Boston: Bedford Series Press, 2002)

**Cooper, Eleanor McCallie and LiuGrace, William An American Woman in China 1934-1974

Fairbank, John K., The Great Chinese Revolution, (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1986)

Fei Xiaotong, Chinese Village Close-Up, (Beijing: New World Press, 1983)

**Jung Chang, Wild Swans, (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1991)

Kuhn, Philip A., Origins of the Modern Chinese State, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002)

Li Zhisui, The Private Life of Chairman Mao, trans. Tai Hung-Chao, (New York: Random House, 1994)

Meisner, Maurice, Mao’s China and After, (New York: The Free Press, 1986)

Meisner, Maurice, Marxism, Maoism and Utopianism: Eight Essays, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982)

Sazanami Tomoko, “Fei Xiaotong's 1957 Critique of Agricultural Collectivization in a Chinese Village”from Papers on Chinese History, (Boston, Harvard University, 1993)

Spence, Jonathan D., The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution (New York: Penguin Books, 1982)

Zhang Xianliang, Grass Soup, trans. Martha Avery, (Boston: R. Godine, Publisher, Inc, 1994)

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC)

"History is written by the victors." - Winston Churchill

Sat, Feb. 18th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)

I just wrote a paper on women within the CCP during the time of its formation (from 1921 through 1949/50). Even though these women were members of the party they only enjoyed such high standing because of their marriages to influential men (such as Li Da, Mao Dun and Mao Tse Tung). Also, during this time, most of the political activity was undertaken by elite, educated women. Although they fought hard for change for women, not much filtered out to the rural areas--this was due in large part to langauge barriers (many dialects) and lack of education for women. (see "Engendering the Chinese Revolution" Christina Kelley Gilmartin, Univ. of California press, 1995.)

You might check out some of Ding Ling's writings too. Especially "thoughts on March 8th". She wrote it in the late 1930's after the CCP Long March. It is an essay aimed at the unequal way women are treated within the CCP itself. She was treated extremely harshly after it was published, but as far as I am aware the party didn't expel her despite the critisism.

If you're looking for a later time period to contrast women's views, check out "Personal Voices-Chinese Women in the 1980's" Emily Honig and Gail Herschatter, Stanford 1988) This has views of women (and men) who hold a variety of opinions regarding political situations of the time.

Good luck

Sat, Feb. 18th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC)

Also "Women in Asia: Restoring Women to History" Barbara Ramusack and Sharon Seivers, Indiana U. 1999.--this has some interesting thoughts too. Though half of the book is devoted to India.

Another good source is the movie "Small Happiness"... I can't remember the director's name, but she was an American who grew up in China. Has some very good info regarding women's experiences in Rural china during the 1980's after the One Child policy and birth restrictions, as well as what it was like to get married etc... there may have been a Marriage Act--but those women were still bound by the "old feudal" family ties (confucious ideals of filial piety)...

Hope some of this helps.

Mon, Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:14 am (UTC)

Have you finished it? Can I read it?

Tue, Jul. 4th, 2006 04:48 am (UTC)

You're welcome to read it if you'd like. Shall I email it to you, or post it here? I've since read "Wild Swans" and I think I could add another whole dimension to the paper.

Tue, Jul. 4th, 2006 10:58 am (UTC)

My email address is mobiletash AT yahoo.com.au or you can post it as well. It's up to you.