- ".. . the binding altered not only my feet but my whole character": Footbinding and First-World Feminism in Chinese American Literature
- Journal of Asian American Studies
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 10, Number 1, February 2007
- pp. 31-58
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Footbinding and First-World Feminism in Chinese American Literature This article traces the trope of footbinding in Chinese American literature and argues that it primarily appears framed within a first-world feminist perspective that largely condemns it as oppressive, exotic, patriarchal, and/or sexualized. While not condoning this cruel and inhumane practice, this article suggests that a first-world critique of footbinding does an injustice to Chinese women by making them appear to be homogenous and monolithic objects who, through powerlessness and oppression, perpetrated this custom on themselves for a thousand years. The author calls for an activist Asian American literature that gives a better understanding of why reasonable women would have capitulated to such maiming, one that thoroughly illustrates the complex relations of dignity and power symbolized by such a practice. Interdisciplinary cultural studies approach used, including literary criticism, post-colonial theory, psychoanalysis, and historical analysis.