Upcoming lecture highlights women’s issues in China

Back in November, a series of lectures began at the UAA Bookstore regarding Chinese works of literature and what American audiences can learn from them. Previously, books like “Red Sorghum” and “Fortress Besieged” were discussed, but now a film called “Feng Shui” will be explored.

Since the film is in Chinese, it will not be screened in its entirety ; only a small excerpt will be shown. But lecturer and professor at the UAA College of Business and Public Policy Yong Cao hopes this will be enough to get people talking.

“(It’s about) women’s status in the family,” Cao said. “I’m going to play five or 10 minutes (of the movie) and then use it as an introduction. Then I will focus on what the role of women is in China’s society, and also what their role is in the family.”

The film features a female character that takes a dominant role in society and in her own family — which, until very recently, has been far outside the norm in Chinese culture.

“China has been a feudal society for thousands of years,” said Annie Zeng, one of the directors of UAA’s Confucius Institute. “The people’s mindsets are not easily changed. So a lot of people still think women should do housework. Particularly in the Northern part of China, women still work very, very hard, not only at home, but on the outside.”

Traditionally, a woman in China is seen as a mother; someone to stay home and take care of the family’s children. Since the 1960s, however, women in China have been becoming a dominant force in Chinese society, both in the workplace and in the family. However, Cao argues that this can be destructive if taken to the extreme.

“Children should be better protected in some ways, and women should also be productive in their own ways,” Cao said. “That’s the basic idea of this.”

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It’s a debate that’s becoming increasingly relevant worldwide, and those organizing the lecture hope the event will raise awareness of the Chinese perspective of this issue.

“I feel this series presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about Chinese culture and changes happening in China today,” said Rachel Epstein, the events coordinator at the UAA Bookstore. “Having people willing to engage in open discussion and free expression about Chinese society is exciting. Students can learn a lot by attending these events and have fun doing so.”

The lecture will take place Jan. 22, from 5 PM to 7 PM.