Oh My Aching Feet
In John King Fairbank’s short story, “Footbinding,” Chinese parents choose to bind their daughters’ feet so they could have a better chance for a good marriage arrangement and success in life. A Chinese custom in practice for decades, “Footbinding spread as a mark of gentility and upper-class status” and as a way “[…] to preserve female chastity” (Fairbank 403). At a very young age, parents tightly wrap their daughters’ feet with cloth to prevent growth and change the shape in order to have small feet. Fairbank tells us, “The small foot was called a ‘golden lotus’ or ‘golden lily’ […]” and more desirable by Chinese men (Fairbank 403). It is a sexual attraction for men-a three inch foot is ideal (Fairbank 405). On the other hand, because of their small feet, foot binding prevents women from doing physical labor, keeps them in the home and safeguards male domination in China (Fairbank 406). Not only does it restrict what women can do, it is a very painful process. Foot binding, a cultural norm in earlier Chinese society, has many negative consequences which outweigh the positive consequences. Fairbank describes a painful Chinese custom that most people cannot imagine is real. Foot binding is real and has many painful effects. The binding process itself is painful. Unbearable pain and suffering from toes bent under the foot held so tight by cloth, that it makes them swell and bleed (Fairbank 405). Everyday walking to us presents agonizing pain-to say the least-for girls with bound feet. Referring to the pain from bound feet, the well-known author states “[…] my feet felt on fire and I couldn’t sleep […]” (Fairbank 405). We know there is little relief from constant aching, soreness and pain! Girls experience tremendous pain from forcing their heel towards the ball of the foot, eventually causing the arches to break (Fairbank 405). Daily unbinding the foot also brings pain from releasing the pressure, as well as rebinding and applying pressure to...
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