Chinese Corner: ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and failed urban design

What I know about ‘The Vagina Monologues’ at Fudan University

By 阿夏
June 3, 2018

“Lu Xun once said, ‘On seeing a woman in short sleeves, they immediately think of white arms, naked bodies, genitals, sexual intercourse, promiscuity, and bastards — Chinese people’s imagination is capable of such great advances in matters such as these.’ Years later, nothing has changed.”

For the first time in 14 years, Fudan’s annual performance of the feminist play The Vagina Monologues (阴道独白 yīndào dúbái) was canceled this year. According to an on-campus student organization responsible for the production, the show was called off at the last minute “due to unclear reasons.” Dismayed by the news, a Fudan graduate wrote this personal essay, recalling the performance of The Vagina Monologues in 2013 and why it was a life-altering experience for her.

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The collective trauma of women abandoned as babies

By 陈少远 | 谷雨实验室
June 6, 2018

In an epic four-part story, journalist Chen Shaoyuan 陈少远 at Guyu Lab 谷雨实验室 takes a deep dive into the market for trafficked female infants in Changle and Putian, two regions in Fujian Province, from the 1960s to the turn of the century. The extensive dark web involved more than 20,000 girls who were abandoned in Changle by their biological parents due to gender preference and poverty. Many of them were bought by adoptive parents in Putian, where they became child brides, called “A-Le” (阿乐 ā lè) by locals.

Decades later, thousands of these women began to search for their biological parents, but often fruitlessly, because no records were kept. Others discovered they had sisters who had also been abandoned.

“In the course of my reporting, I gradually realized the complexities exhibited by this group of abandoned daughters,” Chen wrote, revealing that she is a Changle native and often feels depressed by her own parents’ preference for her younger brother, the fourth child in her family after three daughters. “This story is not only about these women’s mental struggles to find their parents or persistent inquiries about why they were abandoned, but it also showcases a poignant issue facing women — the collective trauma of being abandoned, humiliated, and hurt, and the inability to salvage themselves,” Chen wrote.

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Xu Zhiyuan, an idealist who just doesn’t fit in

By Lunananana | X博士
May 28, 2018

Thirteen Invitations (十三邀 shísān yāo) is an online talk show hosted by 42-year-old journalist and author Xu Zhiyuan 许知远, who was described by Ai Weiwei 艾未未 as “the most important Chinese intellectual of his generation.” Despite a star-studded guest list, including director Jiang Wen 姜文, writer Bai Xianyong 白先勇, and musician Luo Dayou 罗大佑, the dialogue often breaks down into awkward silences.

In this article, Blogger Lunananana argues that the awkwardness primarily stems from Xu’s disconnection with the world around him. On multiple occasions, Xu is visibly frustrated not by his guests, but by his own questions, such as “Do you think the world is drowning?” and “Does the form of life resemble some sort of elegy?” The show captures Xu’s despair — he is trapped in the old soul of a hopeless idealist, while everyone around him has matured, adapting to the evolving environment by giving up values that they once believed in.

Failed urban designs make Chinese cities hostile

By 李迪华 | 不正经历史研究所
June 12, 2018

Newsstands in the middle of sidewalks, roads too narrow to allow two people to walk side by side, glass floors that become dangerously slippery on rainy days: Design failures like these pose constant threats to urban residents in China, argues Li Dihua 李迪华, an architecture professor at Peking University, in this photo essay. However, most Chinese would rather tolerate awful urban design rather than voice their discontent because they assume their complaints to the government will land on deaf ears. “Let your kindness shine, otherwise, there won’t be any change,” Li wrote, encouraging readers to take some action.

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How to terminate a Japanese anime project in two weeks

By Lushark | 游研社
June 10, 2018

On May 22, a Japanese animation studio announced a new project adapted from a novel called Second Life in a Different World (在异世界开拓第二人生 二度目の人生を異世界で) about a sociopathic war maniac, who gets a second life after death. While the novel doesn’t specify the main character’s background, it vaguely hints that he is a Japanese soldier who kills more than 3,000 people in a world war. The news caught the attention of Chinese internet users, who argued that the story was based on the Second Sino-Japanese War, with the main character based on an imperial Japanese soldier who kills many Chinese people.

While there’s no solid evidence to confirm the theory, the controversy escalated quickly after the Global Times chimed in with a commentary, accusing the author of glorifying a fictitious war criminal who commits hideous crimes against Chinese people.

The project has now been canceled under mounting pressure from Chinese internet users.