Women and Sexuality in Wei Hui's Shanghai Baby

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As we know that women are always related with sexuality, many people use this theme as a main topic of their novels, articles or any other literatures; included Wei Hui – one of the controversial Chinese feminist writer – who put women and sexuality as her main topic in her forbidden novel, the Shanghai Baby. Having lived in a state of quasi-servitude for over two thousand years, Chinese women began to demand liberation from their serfdom within the family clan complex. They sought to outlaw arranged marriages, selling of wives and children, infanticides, and the practice of binding feet begun in the 10th century. According to Bettina L. Knapp, “The establishment of girl’s schools was one of the most significant steps in China toward the acknowledgement of women as individuals rather than mere appendages of the husband and family, or as concubines, courtesans, or prostitutes.” (Bettina L. Knapp, 1992:80). More and more men and women in China these days are having sex before marriage, creating a new youth sex culture based on romance, leisure, and free choice. In Shanghai Baby, Coco (the main character) is having sex and living with her new impotent boyfriend without marriage (Wei Hui, 2001:3-5). Almost all of unmarried women in the modern China think about sex when they are in the same room with men. They don’t think they need love, but just a man. The Chinese themselves describe these changes as an “opening up” in response to foreign influences and increased westernization. With many games of seduction, young men and women in China balance pragmatism with romance, lust with love, and seriousness with play, collectively constructing and individually coping with a new culture based on market principles. In Shanghai Baby, Coco is a woman graduated from the Fudan University, so she is well educated. But Coco is one of the Chinese women who have many love adventure stories with different men (Wei Hui, 2001:34). Many of the Chinese women see that having sexual...
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