Abstract

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.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1096-8598
Print ISSN
1097-2129
Pages
pp. 31-58
Launched on MUSE
2007-04-12
Open Access
No
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