FROM CONCUBINE TO COMMANDO - NEW GENERATION OF EMPOWERED CHINESE WOMEN FIGHT CENTURIES OLD TRADITIONS
Extraordinary Chinese women battle modern concerns in trailblazing literature series, ‘The Butterfly Dynasty’
A local author is the first in Australia to explore the very personal predicaments that Chinese women of the new millennium are facing in a new century.
Novelist Robert Barclay, who confesses to “write better than he lives”, is the author of the first two books in The Butterfly Dynasty series: The Diary of Katy Yehonala and The Girl in the Orphanage, with two more to come.
“Life today holds a great many challenges specific to Chinese women who may be finding their parents’ expectations quite stifling. Many would like to travel, hold a specific job and date men who are not the ‘ideal’ – for example they are not Chinese or much older or younger – or even choose to live in a non-traditional Chinese way,” he said.
According to Mr Barclay, Chinese custom dating back to Confucian concepts of filial piety demand the respect of family and especially elders, and decree she should marry a Chinese suitor the family unit has agreed will take care of her financially.
“Chinese women who are not affected by ‘Western’ culture tend to be demure in character. She might avoid eye contact and shake your hand limply – if she touches you at all – or may clasp her hands at her waist and modestly bend her knees in greeting,” Mr Barclay said.
However, Mr Barclay said these characteristics and values, often dictated by older generations of Chinese, are causing conflict for younger women who would like to explore other aspects of their life away from her parents and family.
“Do not be misled by the discreet grace of these exceptional modern women,” he says. “Look again. Our high schools and universities are bursting with Chinese women who excel in their studies and many of the women who are billionaires today are Chinese, mostly self-made. The rise of China’s women started decades before the Pankhursts roamed the streets leading the Suffragette movement. What happened?”
“Chinese women have always been feminists in unexpected ways, from the misunderstood Dowager Empress Cixi Yehonala to the fabulous Soong sisters, to the incredible Chinese women today conquering the sporting, musical, literary and entrepreneurial arenas, even space exploration. For centuries, Chinese women have been known to give their husbands good advice in business. There were widows who ran inns, the grandmother who forced her sons and nephews to do what she wanted, and women who drew from their dowries to help their husband’s sisters marry well.”
But Mr Barclay said the infamous Chinese preference for sons was not the only way in which female empowerment has been traditionally stifled.
“Chinese girls were taught in traditional texts to master the seven virtues appropriate to women: humility, resignation, subservience, self-abasement, obedience, cleanliness, and industry. It is therefore all the more extraordinary to look at the modern women of China and applaud at what they are accomplishing.”
Mr Barclay lived in China for several years and retains close ties to the people and to Cambodia with children’s charitable work. He is one of the first Australian authors to explore themes of Chinese women as they seek to mould a future, taking the best from their past and creating an innovative picture to carry them successfully into the centuries ahead.
The Diary of Katy Yehonala can be purchased HERE
The Girl in the Orphanage can be purchased HERE
The Body Shop, third in the series will be released in March, 2023. Read an excerpt HERE
For further information: Kerry McDuling, PR Consultant, tel: + 61 410 578 194