Some of Us: A Documentary
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Li Xiaojiang, a Chinese feminist scholar, in tracing the lineage and usage of foreign ideology in modern China, concludes two most important strands of influence on discourses on women in the mainland: the enlightenment ideas of democracy and reason that flourished in the 1920s (a time period later named by historians as the Chinese Enlightenment), and a socialist discourse based on Marxism that was introduced after the victory of the Russian October Revolution (Yang 266). After over a hundred years of local history in mainland China, feminism as a discourse has gone through radical changes. Despite its marginalized status in China right now, feminism has been, at every step, closely tied to the “fate” of this land: from the anti-imperial struggles to establish a nation-state (the Republic of China), to the Suffrage Movement in the 1910s, to the founding and rising of the communist party in the 20s and 30s, to the Second World War and later the Civil War, to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, to the socialist period following after and the Great Cultural Revolution, to the economic reformation in the 80s and 90s, and finally to China’s present incorporation into the world economy. So with what discourse do we reflect on Chinese feminism today? How have people of this land reflected on the nation’s recent history? Where is feminism’s future in China, and moreover, where is China’s future? On the one hand, people have become aware of classical Marxism and Maoism’s limitations in interpreting and prescribing a “cure” for the social conditions in China; but on the other hand, there are both welcoming and resistance to the so-called “Western” ideology as the economy grows alongside the sense of nationalism and a skepticism of the “Western” powers. Bearing these questions in mind, I embarked on the journey of this project. At first, it was more out of curiosity about the history of modern China interplayed with that of feminism, and of the contemporary feminist scene in the mainland. As I went into filming, out of serendipity, or accumulated unconscious decisions, this project gradually morphed from a mere historical and social exploration into one that incorporated the personal, familial, and generational. It became my lens to re-look at my immediate surroundings at home, to learn about the women’s lives in my family, to understand more in depth China’s past and present, and to contemplate on its future. For all these important lessons and experience, I am forever grateful.