An analysis of the representation of females in Chinese literature.
This paper examines how Mu-lan, Jaia Sun Childers, Zhang Xinxin, and other contemporary Chinese female writers, persist with the idea that women cannot achieve a wholeness in the assumption of a role, whether it be that of Chinese soldier, revolutionary warrior, or scorned lover. It looks at how gender roles appear only to limit a woman; only once she has achieved wholeness with her femininity and her strength as a woman, outside of traditional bonds or in a cultural gender-neutral framework, can the Chinese woman truly aspire to autonomy, intellectualism, and love.
“Chinese women writers have found it necessary even in modern times, to reject the social roles that men have imposed upon them. These social roles represent one that is quite different from that which faced Mu-lan. For Chinese women writers of the 20th and 21st centuries, it has become more crucial for them to bring the idea of femininity into focus, as opposed to Mu-lan who had to hide her femininity entirely. Much of this stems from the Chinese Cultural Revolution. At this time, many of the traditional social and moral values changed, and lost their validity. At this time, women writers who produced works which embraced and celebrated femininity were widely criticized for having thought and ideas that ran counter to the revolution.”