Snow Flower

*This is the post I wrote that led me to stop blogging.  In the moment, I just wasn’t happy with it, got frustrated and wrote and published the goodbye post instead.  Reading it now, I’m not sure what the problem was, so I’m going to share it.

Today I started reading this wonderfully gripping book called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  I began reading the second chapter with my hand over my mouth and tears forming in my eyes.  Further into the chapter something happened that has never happened to me while reading before.  I started getting light headed and had to put the book down for fear that I would pass out in the middle of the pediatric dentist’s waiting room.  To give you a clue as to why, chapter two in the book is titled “Foot Binding.”

The book is set in China and is written in first person.  You see the world through the eyes of a young girl who is the 3rd child,  2nd daughter in her somewhat poor family.    So far the book is just this vast reminder of how far we’ve come in terms of women’s rights and equality.  And of course I am really only aware of my culture and society, so I realize this change of beliefs is not necessarily true in other places.  I know in China it is still most desirable to have a son and the orphanages are filled with girls.  One would believe it impossible for a mother to give up a child just because it was not born a boy but if even a little bit of the attitude in this book prevailed daughters do not receive what we think of as mother’s love.  There is one event in this book that, as a mother, surely would have sent me to the loony bin but was barely a blip on this fictional mother’s radar (or at least thus far, I’m only on page 59).

It just saddens me the way ignorant, prejudice, and twisted ideas can take flight.  How entire societies and cultures can be built upon traditions of torture and slavery.  The only freedom these women experienced was prior to the age of 6.  At 6-years-old the foot binding begins.  And the reason for the foot binding was so that they could get a husband.  And for the families with daughters, the livelihood depended on them being married off.  So at the age of 6 little girl’s feet were broken and twisted up by their own mothers.  They spent weeks or months in agony learning to walk on broken stumps (more or less).  I know I could easily research it, but I just wonder how this came to be?  Who decided that was attractive?  Who set that as a standard for making a woman marriage material?  What kind of person makes that decision and why in the Hell does anyone listen to them?

I know there are things in our society that are comparable.  Women go under the knife for all sorts of reasons.  But at least we have a choice in the matter.  At least those of us that aren’t willing to make any drastic changes to our bodies will still be able to find husbands (or wives-if we continue on the evolution to equality).

I am only a little ways into this book, but since it was recommended to me and it has truly sucked me in, I would definitely recommend it to you.  I also invite you to go back and read Karen’s Click which is about her grandmother’s tiny feet.

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5 thoughts on “Snow Flower

  1. OpinionatedGift October 6, 2010 / 7:40 am

    History is replete with the oppression of women in the cause of “beauty” or obedience (or both).

    You’re right that technically women have a choice here, but psychologically I wonder how many of those women feel that it’s a free choice. Just pondering.

    That it still goes on anywhere in this day and age, any kind of this behavior from foot binding to clitoral mutilation, literally makes me ill.

  2. Amanda October 6, 2010 / 8:40 am

    Read this in book club too, Les. It truly is horrific to think of, and when I think of my own daughter, it just makes me nauseous…

  3. Rhonda Simpson October 7, 2010 / 11:46 pm

    As a writer, I have found that when I touch on certain issues, even if I feel deeply about them, it stops me, and makes me doubt, even if I can write with flow about anything else. I feel that has to do with areas we haven’t quite come to terms with yet, and as women, we all feel the oppression of the ages within us-so it’s a touchy thing to touch down on. I’m hunching that’s why this one stopped you in your tracks, but I’m glad you found your footing and didn’t put the pen down.

    • lesleehorner October 8, 2010 / 8:12 am

      Thank you Rhonda, very insightful…

  4. whatsaysyou March 3, 2011 / 6:45 pm

    Excellent and lovely post. Footbinding is not just horrific but also it is counted as oppression against women in this day and age if this so-called beauty practice is allowed to continue.

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