Red Illuminates II
My research started with a new word coined in 2006, ‘剩女’ [ShengNv], a term meaning ‘Leftover Women’ that refer to women who have passed the age of marriage generally considered by society but are still unmarried. This derogatory term targets women who were born since the one-child policy was enforced. As sons are preferred in culture, gender selection for the only child has become a norm. The policy has resulted in the abandonment or abortion of girls, leading to a gender imbalance. When this generation reached marriageable age and men struggled to find wives, a strategy was to invent a culture of shame targeting women to persuade them into marriage at an early age to compensate for this gender imbalance.
By deconstructing the connection between the family planning policy and the tremendous societal pressure faced by unmarried Chinese women, this work explores feminist issues related to culture, childbearing, and the role that state influence plays. The image selected reflects China’s family planning policy changes over the years. Following the one-child policy and the gradually loosed two-child policy, the three-child policy was implemented in 2021. The text in the image reads “Having three children is the best option; you don’t need the state to take care of you when you’re old.” These texts are ubiquitous in China and are often displayed on red banners made with fabric ties strung between trees on city streets.
Red Illuminates II examines state-controlled policies that serve as a “public goal” at the time of their implementation, however, they triggered many satellite issues in real life. In this context, women are reduced to mere objects that serve society through their reproductive abilities.
Red Illuminates II is part of the New Irish Works series and runs at the Library Project until Sunday May 28.