Nacer mujer en China: Las voces silenciadas

ISBN: 8496580199
ISBN 13: 9788496580190
By: Xinran Sofía Pascual Pape

Check Price Now


Asia Biography China Currently Reading Favorites History Non Fiction Nonfiction To Read Women

About this book

Un relato colectivo revelador acerca de los deseos, los sufrimientos y los suenos de muchas mujeres de la China contemporanea que hasta ahora no habian encontrado expresion publica. Sinopsis: Xinran Xue era presentadora de un influyente programa radiofonico chino cuando en 1989 recibio una carta angustiosa: una nina habia sido secuestrada y forzada a casarse con un anciano que desde entonces la mantenia encadenada. Los hierros estaban lacerandole la cintura y se temia por su vida. Xinran obtuvo la liberacion de la victima, pero se percato de que un silencio historico imperaba sobre la situacion de las mujeres en su nacion. Decidio difundir las historias de oyentes que cada noche llamaban a su programa. Esta iniciativa inedita tuvo por respuesta miles de cartas con increibles relatos personales y convirtio a Xinran en una celebridad. Entre los numerosos testimonios que escucho y dio a conocer, selecciono quince para que integraran este libro. Nacer mujer en China es un relato colectivo revelador acerca de los deseos, los sufrimientos y los suenos de muchas mujeres que hasta ahora no habian encontrado expresion publica.

Reader's Thoughts


U zadnjih, otprilike, dvije godine pročitala sam dosta knjiga kojima je zajednički "nazivnik" Kina, a posebno Kineskinje i njihov život, položaj u društvu, njihova duša, um i postojanje. I to u različitim vremenskim razdobljima - od, recimo, 17. stoljeća pa sve do danas. Svaki put sam fascinirana pročitanim, na različite načine, naravno, jer su i priče različite. Ali vrlo su dojmljive, zanimljive i posebne - naravno da ovisi i tko je te knjige napisao, ali pretpostavljam da sam imala sreće u odabiru, pa mi se uglavnom sve pročitano svidjelo.Ova knjiga, "Dobre kineske žene", briljantna je. Sastavljena je od petnaestak različitih priča - istinitih priča, dakako - koje je napisala novinarka imenom Xinran, a koje su joj ispričale (ili napisale, ali to je rjeđe) Kineskinje, koje su željele s nekim podijeliti svoje, uglavnom tragične i, za nas, nevjerojatne priče. Koliko god mi mislili da znamo što se u Kini događalo za vrijeme Maove vladavine, prije toga, a i poslije toga, mogu samo reći da bismo se trebali pokriti po glavi i zašutjeti, jer nemamo blage veze. Znamo ono što nam se servira(lo) (kao, uostalom, i kod većine povijesnih detalja i istina, iz bilo kojeg dijela svijeta), a to je tako malo i - proizvoljno. Žene u većini zemalja svijeta žive teže od muškaraca (što god tko mislio o tome i uvjeravao me da nije tako - tako je i nikako drukčije), ali ovo što su prolazile - i na neki način još uvijek prolaze - kineske žene, zaista je izvan svake usporedbe. Xinran piše na novinarski način, naravno, ali moram reći da je i literarno nadarena, sjajno zna prenijeti osjećaje, a ne gubi ništa kod izlaganja i opisa činjenica. Strahovito me dirnula, uspjela me i zaprepastiti (iako sam, kažem, dosta čitala o cijeloj temi), rasplakati (često i od ljutnje) i potaknuti da čitam još o tome i govorim o tome. Prijevod Martine Čičin Šain je apsolutno sjajan. Preporuka od srca.

Lora Grigorova

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices: The Good Women of China has been particularly painful – and I doubt as painful for men as it is actually for women. After the Cultural Revolution and Deng Xiaoping’s policies to open up China to the West many journalists began enjoying freedom of speech – or at least much more freedom of speech than during the Communist rule. In the 1980s Xinran, a Chinese journalist, started hosting her own radio show, Words on the Night Breeze, which gave women the unprecedented opportunity to raise their voice. Within months after the initiation of her radio program, Xinran is overwhelmed with letters – female stories during and immediately after the Cultural Revolution. In The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices Xinran tells 14 of these stories, including her own. There is nothing particularly new, at least from our point of view. Women being raped. Women being forced into arranged marriages. Women being treated inferior. Women living as beggars because their own children disowned them. A girl dying after an earthquake, trapped in a building. And her mother comforting us. Another girl losing her mind because a group of soldiers raped her. Way too many times. From my point-of-view now, more than 30 years later, it feels way too familiar. Yet it always hurts the same for a woman to hear or read about another one being treated that way.Read more:

Ann Evans

A must, must, must read book. I'm not really going to review it here. I last read it about five years ago, and I'm picking it up right now to read again. It is both chilling and heart-warming, both frightening and hopeful. Women in China are HEROES.

Maria Paiz

In 1988, Chinese journalism was still carefully monitored by the Chinese government --any remark even slightly considered against the regime could end in a journalist's (and her boss, and HIS boss) losing their jobs, or in extreme cases, their freedom or even possibly their lives. However, times were changing and communications were opening up, so when Xinran, the radio presenter of a night program called "Words on the Night Breeze" started taking interest in women's stories and presenting them on the air, the public response was astounding. Hundreds of letters poured in every day, through which women recounted their lives, mostly anonymously, and almost always with poignant, harrowing, and heart-wrenching stories.These were stories from women of all ages, describing lives from throughout the 20th century. Their tales were a testimony of the suffering of women, who were culturally seen as less than men, as their property, as having no rights or protection, receiving consistent abuse and torture, and bearing their pain with doleful stoicism. Chinese women, for centuries, belonged to a strict social hierarchy: they were expected to obey their father, then their husband (and his mother) and, after his death, her own son, all while caring for the children, keeping house, tolerating infidelities, beatings, or other of her husband's misgivings, and being irreproachable in face of society. They were expected to accept hardships without complaining; after all, their mothers and all their other women ancestors had endured the same.Women were often kept in ignorance (after all, "it was Confucius who said that lack of talent in a woman was a virtue"), so the letters often addressed women's issues such as love, sexuality, shame, neglect, abuse, education, and human rights. After 10 years of running the show and becoming a celebrity, Xinran moved to London, where she taught Chinese studies at London University and later got married. The freedom she felt in England allowed her the opportunity to write a compendium of some of the stories that captured her heart while working as a journalist. Even throughout wretched, unbearable situations, the spirit of Chinese women is reflected as one of great strength. This book helps explain the tyranny that Chinese women endured in the past century and their evolution towards the role they have today. Highly recommendable.

Sue Lyle

I read this book in a day. I couldn't put it down even though it was the most heart-breaking, true story of women's lives brutalised by a totalitarian regime. I want to know more about the legacy of the Chinese cultural revolution on people's lives in china today. In another book I read of the baby milk scandal where a company deliberately sold a flour mix as baby milk knowing it would cause malnutrition. Why? because it would increase sales. Many babies died and 1000s are permanently damaged mentally and physically. I could not understand how anyone could deliberately set out to do this to babies. Having read this account of the lives of children growing up during the cultural revolution and the cruelties imposed on families by the state, about the whipped up fervour of the Red Guards and how children were encouraged to be so cruel to others, I want to know how many children lacked the opportunity to grow up in a loving family. The legacy of this time in history must reverberate through the years. History shows over and over again how easy it is to brutalise people. This is a very important set of true stories that provide a glimpse into the miseries imposed on girl children and women that everyone should read.


I have real mixed feelings about this book and found it hard to read. It was so sad to read the stories of the various women of China and when you pile each of these stories upon each other, the effect is very upsetting. Yes, this was propbably the reality for many women in China in 2002 but it was hard to read about it. I would have liked to learn more about the narrator and think she could have put more of herself out there, as she told her stories. The book probably deserves more stars than I selected and if you enjoy Chinese history and can handle reading about these awful experiences, you will find this to be an exceptional book.


The Good Women of China is by far one of the best books I have read about modern China. Honest, frightening and downright depressing at times, this book is a must read. For anyone interested in learning about the real China, I cannot urge you strongly enough to read this book.The book starts off with the author, Xinran, describing the impetus for first becoming interested in a women’s radio show and later, for writing this book: helping save a 12 year old girl from death after learning through an anonymous letter that the young girl had been sold into marriage with a 60 year old crippled man. Fearing the young girl would try to escape, the old man had kept the girl bound to a iron chain which had been rapidly gnawing away at the flesh on her waist where it was tied. In response to Xinran’s pleas to save this young girls life, local officers simply replied, "This sort of thing happens a lot. If everyone reacted like you, we'd be worked to death. Anyway, it's a hopeless case. We have piles of reports here, and our human and financial resources are limited. I would be very wary of getting mixed up in it if I were you. Villagers like that aren't afraid of anyone or anything; even if we turned up there, they'd torch our cars and beat up our officers."The officers believed that they had no clout in the countryside and were thus reluctant to venture there and take action. Thankfully, Xinran persuaded them otherwise and once the girl had been successfully rescued and returned to her hometown where she was trafficked from, Xinran received no praise and "only criticism for 'moving the troops about and stirring up the people' and wasting the radio station's time and money. I was shaken by these complaints. A young girl had been in danger and yet going to her rescue was seen as "exhausting the people and draining the treasury". Just what was a woman's life worth in China?" From this initial experience, Xinran is further impelled to investigate women’s lives, disseminate their experiences, and encourage public dialogue about culturally-sensitive or taboo issues for one of the first times ever. And so begins Xinran’s quest to understand and probe deep into Chinese muted past through the lives of these seemingly ordinary women, whose experiences are anything but the latter.Each story has left a strong and meaningful impression on my mind and led me to reflect even more on the past two years in China as my service here comes to a close. Many times, upon finishing a story in the book, I found myself just staring for several minutes trying to fully absorb what I had just read.

Astrid Reza

The "good women" in China, in Xin Ran stories, are not women that view as "good women" in the Chinese society. I had to do some applause for Xin Ran and those women who had shared their stories. It's wonderful and excruciating. I had never found stories as tragic as their stories. Life is just hard, but hey, they move on. They keep on living, even if it only in their own dreams. Their imagination that cannot held back by anyone. Not the government, not the society, not even the people who love them. I had to thanks for them for sharing their lives so personally. So close, that I even felt that I related with them (as you know, I'm always in denial with my Chinese blood).Thank you for all your kindness, strangers, friend, enemy, sister, mother, auntie, nieces, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter. Thank you Xin Ran for putting your own life in saving this manuscript in London. I love u all.


What a heart-wrenching book! Xinran was about to share with us stories of Chinese women who never had a chance to speak out the truth when she was a journalist/radio host. There are so many stories in here that are so heart-wrenching. Many difficult situations that are mentioned are rape, inequality, incest, forced marriages and divorces, distrust of men, a broken society, women and children as property, etc. In "The Girl Who Kept a Fly as a Pet," this young woman's story was told through a long letter about how her father molested her and later raped her repeatedly. After the repeated trauma and anxiety, the girl got so sick that she made many hospital visits. There was a wall of silence and the girl had no one to turn to. When she finally told her mother, she was upset about what was going on with her daughter. However, since how society set it up, there wasn't anywhere to go. The time period of this happening was in the 60s and 70s China when there was still a Cultural Revolution going on. The mother said to her daughter," You have to be quiet. If you don't, who will protect us?" Basically this mother let her daughter be sacrificed so that the family is secure in housing, finances, food and still be part of the community. Why does it has to be like that? How did the girl get a pet fly? What actually happened to the girl? Read this book to find out. In here you also meet so many courageous Chinese women dealing with horrible experiences and they stayed hopeful and strong. They gave so much of themselves so their husbands and sons get what they needs while these mothers and wives go without so many things.


The Good Women of China had been sitting on my bookshelf for probably 5 years before I picked it up to read. My copy was given to me by my boyfriend at the time as he knew of my personal interest in learning more about myself and reconciling my Asian-Australian-ness. But why did it take me so long to get to it? Perhaps I wasn't ready at the time. But I actually think my reasons were more superficial than that - I looked at the cover, read the blurb on the back and thought it would be boring - I mean, I am a Chinese woman, what more is there to know?Just like Xinran when she started on this journey, I came to realise how little I know and how wrong I was!I'm currently doing some research on the history of the Chinese in Australia, particularly in my home state of Queensland, and the women's experience, for a piece of work I am creating. And I am ashamed to say that my brain went, sigh, I think its time to read that book. So I plucked it off the shelf and started reading.I don't know what to say about this book except that it moved me. No, it reached in, grabbed me by the heart and soul, and shook me, hard. It totally rattled me. Each chapter tells the story of a Chinese woman's experience in modern China. The reality of their lives - sexual abuse, forced marriages, poverty, oppression - horrified me. I'm still coming to terms with the violence and sadness within the pages. I can only imagine what Xinran would have gone through to listen to all those stories. I'm so glad that she decided to weave her personal reflections on the stories as I felt that it helped me process what I was reading.This book is harrowing and stark, tragic and confronting, shocking and eye-opening. The Good Women of China gave me further insight into my heritage, the suffering, the patterns but also the strength and resilience.I couldn't agree more with Amy Tan's (author of the Joy Luck Club and many other novels about the Asian-American experience) testimonial on the back of the book:"These are stories that must be read. The lives of these anonymous women are so moving that when I finished reading their stories I felt my soul had been altered. This is a rare collection of testimonies that shows the scale of our humanity, both good and bad, wondrous and horrific. The voices are poetic in their simplicity and honesty. I feel privileged and humbled to have been witness to the lives of these good women."Xinran, thank you. I will never judge another one of your books by its cover ever again. I can only dream to touch another so deeply as you have touched me. Thank you.


I would never have read this book if I hadn't needed an "X" for my A-Z author challenge. It was certainly an eye-opener!These are true stories from Chinese women about their lives, collected by a journalist and radio presenter. She was also surprised by the stories she was told. Some of the stories of abuse are unbelievable and it is hard to imagine, living in Western society, that these things are going on in modern times. It is pure luck who you are and where you were born but I am so grateful to be living in an open and free thinking society.I had no concept of China at all, and certainly learned a few things about the culture. I may look a bit further into it, but then again I'm not sure I want to either, as I would probably get quite angry about it all.


This book is horrifying and fascinating. Xinran chronicles the stories of a few individuals, and expertly pinpoints how the stories she presents are (unfortunately) not necessarily unique. She explains how Chinese history and culture relate to each woman's experiences, without lecturing or giving a history lesson (some knowledge of Chinese history is useful, although Xinran does an excellent job of concisely describing the key points). Each chapter is masterfully woven into the next, and each interview is distinct but connected to the others by Xinran's narrative. Her writing is beautiful, and she is "present" just enough, at some times more than others. She tells her own story to an extent, which I think is very appropriate to the tone and theme of this book. Throughout her interviews she often tells the women that they can share openly with her because they are both women and can understand each other (or some variation of that statement). It helps to know Xinran's story, to understand how she herself relates to the women in her interviews.At times I was amazed by the bravery of women in these stories, but was almost always struck by the sobering thought "what choice do they have?" It often seems like their choices are to continue living with their pain (or complete numbness) or to kill themselves. For quite a few women in this book, those were the options they felt obligated to choose between. That's really how bleak some of these stories are--imagining how "healing" is possible for some of the women in this book seems like a naive hope either because they have been so horribly traumatized and/or because they live in a society that makes healing impossible for them.The last chapter, "The Women of Shouting Hill", is interesting because it is quite different from the others. In it, Xinran describes her experiences with a group of women in a remote village. The politics and history that so strongly influenced the experiences of other women are seemingly not present here. The women lead difficult, poverty-stricken, primitive, and painful lives. They are not valued at all beyond their ability to produce children (sons being the most highly valued of course). And yet "out of the hundreds of Chinese women [Xinran] had spoken to over nearly ten years of broadcasting and journalism, the women of Shouting Hill were the only ones to tell [her] they were happy." (pg. 239)That one line has left me reeling.This book is wonderful, but horrible, and truly worth reading.


The stories are, as you would expect, fascinating and harrowing. The writing on the other hand is unforgivably juvenile. These women deserved better. But let's think for a moment about the type of person who would be allowed to become a journalist for state media in a repressive dictatorship. Logically, their selection would have little to do with any storytelling talent. Instead, it would hinge on being the type of conformist able to swallow and parrot propaganda without any intellectual analysis. The author tries hard to talk the reader into believing she's an actual journalist but her incompetence (or, if we're being kind, naive bumbling) is painfully apparent. Example: she spends several days with a woman in a hotel, only to realize AFTERWARDS that she was someone whom she was actively searching for. This in a country where you absolutely cannot check into a hotel anonymously. It never occurred to this "journalist" to get the woman's name from the front desk. This was not an exception. I had time and time again the same "how can you be such an idiot?!" reaction to her lack of research.And then there's the writing style, which manages to be simultaneously sterile and cloying. ALL the supposed first person quotes sound exactly the same. Maybe they're not fabricated. It's possible all these women tell their stories in exactly the same way. Or maybe the nuances get lost in the translation. But something is definitely off. Having recently read a couple of good books dealing with first person accounts of misery and oppression (ex. Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Life Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity and Nothing to Envy - Ordinary Lives in North Korea) throws into stark contrast how bad this one is. I found this really infuriating because these are important stories and they deserve a much more impactful telling.


For nearly 8 years in the late 80s and early 90s, Xinran hosted a radio program in China called Words on the Night Breeze where she invited women to call in and share their stories. Unfortunately, because of strong government censorship, many of the calls could not be shared or the experiences talked about in full. Xinran received thousands of letters, voice messages, and personal interviews from women whose stories could not be shared with the women who needed to hear the stories the most - fellow Chinese women.Thus, The Good Women of China was born after Xinran moved to England and was allowed to share the thing she had learned publicly. When Xinran first began collecting stories from women in China, very few people, even women, knew anything about Chinese women. I know that seems like a very bizarre statement to make, but it is true. Women were expected to stay silent and keep their pain and their stories to themselves. Xinran found that women in China usually knew nothing about what it really means to be a woman, knew nothing about their relationships with each other or with men, and knew nothing of sexuality. Xinran's idea of exploring women's lives was considered radical and she was routinely shocked by the things she learned. Even though the book is older (first published in 2002) and the stories are even older (most collected while Xinran was still in China doing her radio program from around 1988-1996), they are a slice-of-life glimpse into the lives of women during the cultural revolution through the great opening up and reform era of Deng Xiaoping. The stories are heartbreaking. Most of the women were victims of rape at one point. I sobbed while I read the chapter on the mothers who lost their children in the great Tangshan earthquake in 1976. I was sickened by the story of the Guomindan general's daughter. These stories are not for the faint of heart, but they are all true. And even though the stories are 30, 40, 50+ years old, they are not so far removed as to be irrelevant and help explain why the role of women in China today is the way it is. If you want to understand more about women in China, this is the quintessential guide. 4 stars.


My long-held belief that the roots of extreme sexual repression can be traced to Judea-Christian influences has unraveled completely in the first 10 pages of this book. In George Orwell's 1984 it was obvious that his dsytopia was taken directly from Soviet Russia, but I never understood where Orwell was getting his images of sexual repression and taboos against romantic love. Wherever it came from it was also present in China.The stories of Chinese women collected in this book will break your heart and make you grateful for any freedom you have, even if it's just the freedom to eat an egg (without first having to bear a son) or to use feminine hygiene products that don't shred your skin. This book has stirred in me the desire to read more about China, especially the period preceding and during the Cultural Revolution. It's hard to believe that I have walked on this earth during a time when women in China were imprisoned for being lesbian or even co-habitating with a man outside of marriage.With the last three books I've read I have come to appreciate some of the redeeming qualities of my own country. America is wrong in a lot of ways but at least we can fly a kite here, at least we can live a life independent of a man, own property, get a divorce if we need to and take a lesbian lover without having to worry about going to prison for it....I wonder how long it will last?

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *