3) Analysis of the consequences of Decontextualization
1. Is it “Western colonial discourse” or an internal need of China?
从林则徐“师夷长技以制夷”到维新、辛亥、五四,并非只是被动选择,是面对现实的 主动选择。他们并非只是被动接受西方“殖民话语”。西方话语经他们“消化”已成为 中国的内在需要。
From Lin Zexu (林则徐, – an important Qing official whose burning of Opium started the first Opium-War) with his motto „To learn the skills of the Barbarians to master them“ during the Opium-War in 1839, to the (agents of) Reforms of 1898, of the Revolution of 1911 and finally the May Fourth Movement of 1919, these people did not just have passive choices (被动选择 bèidòng xuǎnzé). They had active choices to face reality. These people did not just passively accept Western “colonial discourse”. The Western discourse itself was “digested” (消化 xiāohuà) by them and then become an internal need (内在需要 nèizài xūyào) of China.
2. The inherent contradictions of “decontextualization” (脱离语境 tuōlí yǔjìng)
“女性主义”是西方已有上百年历史的妇女解放运动的发展,泛指欧美国家中主张男女 平等的各种思潮。它并非一个严密完整的思想体系,不同理论派别之间对各种问题甚至 还有较大的分歧,但基本共同点是都认为现存社会结构是以“男权”为基础、为出发点 的。
“Feminism” (女性主义 nǚxìng zhǔyì) is the product of a the women’s liberation movement (妇女解放运动 fùnǚ jiěfàng yùndòng) in the West with over a century of history. The term refers to various trends of thought in Europe countries and the United States that support equality of men and women (男女平等 nánnǚ píngděng). It is definitely not a rigorous and complete system of thought, but there were rather different theoretical factions who disagreed on various and rather large issues. But the basic thing in common, was that they agreed that the existing social structure was patriarchal (男权 nánquán) based and has this as starting point.
女性主义不仅在政治、经济、社会层面上向男性争取平等权利,而且要从根本上撼动现 存社会、文化秩序,解构传统历史话语,重塑历史,建构新的文化秩序,这就将妇女解 放运动从社会、政治领域扩展到历史、文化、学术领域。
Feminism then is not only fighting for equal rights (平等权利 píngděng quánlì) with men on the political, economic, and social level, but also to fundamentally shake the existing social and cultural order, to deconstruct (解构 jiěgòu) the traditional historical discourse (历史话语 lìshǐ huàyǔ), to reshape (重塑 chóngsù) history and to construct a new cultural order. This women’s liberation movement extended from the social and political fields into the dominion of history, culture, and academia.
女性主义的重要特点是以女性视角观察、解释两性不平等现象的根源,着眼于社会文化 分析,如生理性别差异、分工如何演变以社会性别差异、分工;在以性别为依据进行分 工的社会中,如何认识其社会的生产结构,生育解构以及两性标准等等。进而探讨如何根除男性宰制和女性依附的权力关系,探讨如何解构父权体制,实现女性解放的可能性 和途径。
The important feature of feminism is the use of the female angle of view (女性视角 nǚxìng shìjiǎo) to look at and explain the root causes of gender inequalities (两性不平等 liǎngxìng bùpíngděng), and to attract attention to social and cultural analysis, such as physiological gender differences (性别差异 xìngbié chāyì), on how the division of labor brought about gender differences and a gendered division of labor. In looking at a society where social division of labor is based on gender, feminism concerns itself with the question of how to understand the production structure of its society, with fertility deconstruction (生育解构 shēngyù jiěgòu), with gender criteria and other issues. Then it explores on how to eradicate power relations (权力关系 quánlì guānxi) of male domination (男性宰制 nánxìng zǎizhì) and female dependence/submission (女性依附 nǚxìng yīfù). Feminism explores possibilities and means of how to deconstruct patriarchal systems and of how to establish the liberation of women.
These two theories are connected to “post-modern theory”. It can even be said that they rely on „post-modern theory“ which is particularly popular in Western academia. But this connection also comes from the fact that the two theories share a common social background and shared “struggle objects” (斗争对象 dòuzhēng duìxiàng).
即都以在西方社会占统治/优势地位的“白种男性”的政治、 经济和文化“话语”作为 批判对象,代表了弱势集团对强势集团的抗争,实现了从“边缘”向“中心”的突破, 所以二者虽有种种不同和矛盾,但大体而言在西方是互相支援、互相发明的,形成一种 理论“联盟”。
For both theories, the political, economic and cultural “discourse” on the ruling or dominant position of the “white male” (白种男性 báizhǒng nánxìng) in Western society became a target of criticism. They represent the resistance of disadvantaged groups (弱势集团 ruòshì jítuán) against powerful groups (强势集团 qiángshì jítuán). They stand for the breakthrough of the “periphery” against the “center”. Although both theories have a variety of differences and contradictions, in the West they generally supported each other, they invented each other and ultimately formed an “alliance” (联盟 liánméng) of theories.
However, life can be much more complex than theory. In the face of the incomparably complex and rich life itself, if there is a slight error, a theory will become “incoherent” and self-contradictory (自 相矛盾 zìxiāng máodùn).
For example, recent changes in some Third World countries in the status of women (妇女地位 fùnǚ dìwèi), and changes in traditional lifestyles and in customs all caused some controversy (争论 zhēnglùn). These controversies actually reflect conflicts (冲突 chōngtū) of social development and cultural traditions.
Even so, “strong” and “disadvantaged” here really are not so unified, they are not so distinct from each other. If we apply “postmodern“ – or “postcolonial theory” and “feminism“ which both are originally deeply connected with “postmodern theory”, and let them collide (相碰 xiāngpèng) with each other, then we really do not know which of both sides would attack and which would defend. Very likely the two sides would attack each other.
中国近代传教士对妇女放足的作用。Missionaries in early modern China for example had a great function in the abolishment of foot-binding (放足 fàngzú) of women.