Half the Galaxy: Female Writers of Chinese Science Fiction

Through a year of quarantines and lockdowns throughout the world, many women are finding that hard won progress in their emancipation has somewhat diminished. Their roles regressed to the main caregiver, or manager of the house, regardless of their other responsibilities. On this year’s International Women’s Day, it’s important to remember the capabilities and achievements women have pushed forward with, both in spite of gender stereotypes and male bias, and in light of freedoms won. I have recently researched China’s net novelists, and was amazed at the creative output of women who were writing whilst also holding down full time jobs, and labouring under the yoke of domestic responsibility. Science fiction is another realm still primarily considered to be the domain of men, where women’s contribution is often overlooked, especially in China.

Posted in Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Five Fabulous Chinese Goddesses: Xi Wang Mu

Even though China’s pantheon is mammoth, there does tend to be more male deities than female, it’s an imbalance I’ve tried to redress in my book. For Chinese goddesses are fabulous indeed, they come in many types – deities of the elements, the trades, protectors, creators. Most of the Nü Shen, Chinese for female deity, are very powerful. They also have amazing stories, and are some of China’s oldest supernatural beings. In this mini-series I write about 5 of them. 

Posted in Culture and tagged , , , , , ,

An October of Theatre Part I

This October has been an extremely good month for Sinophiles in London, with so many China-related events in museums, theatres, conferences as well as TV and the radio. I have actually overexerted myself a little over this month, attending so many events, filling notebooks with article plans and talk outlines, that I gave myself no time to actually write and upload anything, so consider this article a guide to the highlights, and pitfalls, of Chinese culture through the Western lense.

Posted in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , ,

On The Factory (Covent Garden) and Artistic Photography in China

Located in the heart of the West End, the Factory is a boutique photography studio that offers shoots for modelling, other professional purposes or just keepsakes for a fun day out. Earlier this year, I was bought a session as a treat by some friends, and of all the special instructions they passed on, only the one about not offering me too much to drink was passed through on the day.  The first shoot did not go well at all, what we were told would happen didn’t, the pictures were nothing like we were expecting, and I was very distraught. After my friends had words with the studio, and the situation was discussed, The Studio saw where they went wrong, and corrected it. They also gave me a second shoot, in order to show exactly how they could do it. This is a review based on that second shoot, and with the consideration that they’re continuing with the very high standard they showed us. The studio, situated on the top floor of the terraces on Great Newport Street, is not as big as one would expect, even announcing itself as boutique. It consists of a lounge area with make-up mirrrors against one wall, and one hair styling chair, two actual studios, one of which usually serves as a changing room for clients, and a small office/viewing room. The changing room, which, with its fleur-de-lis wall-paper and brocaded chaise-longue, felt rather like a boudoir (right down to the very low level Continue Reading →

Posted in Culture and tagged , , , ,

From Tie Gu Niang to Sheng Nu: Gender Issues in China

In the last week or so, China’s new generation of leaders was announced, in a statement that only really happens every 10 years or so. The fact that all the figures who walked onto the dais at the Great Hall of the People were men wasn’t really a surprise, but it was a disappointment.   Whilst imperial China was very much a patriarchal, chauvinist society,  the 1950s and 60s brought forth “Tie Gu Niang”(铁姑娘),or the iron maidens. Neither the torture device, nor the east London metallers, but strong, robust young women who frequented the battlefield, ploughed the fields and shoveled coal into the steelmaking furnaces. These androgynous, almost masculine women are often found on propaganda posters. Cradling farm tools, or machine guns, gazing off into the glorious new dawn. The public face of these industrial heroines also stretched to Cinema, and Tie Gu Niang graced the screens of two classics of this period, Five Golden Flowers (1959) and The Red Detachment of Women (1961). In a relatively rare romance from this period, Five Golden Flowers tells the story of village youth, Ah Peng, who falls in love at the March Festival with a girl who dismisses his vows of undying love, instead giving him her name and the place to meet the following year. What follows is a comedy of errors featuring four other girls of the same name, a man only known as “the old meddler” and two bumbling artists of Chang Chun Film Studios from the city (who Continue Reading →

Posted in Commentary and tagged , , ,