Hi, Steemit friends: thank you for the warm welcome to this wonderful community. I would like to share my experience growing up in China, starting with a story about my birth. Through my personal story, I hope you can have a glimpse of how Chinese traditional culture of valuing boys over girls played such an important role in people’s lives. As a girl born and raised in China, I have always been very sensitive to gender inequality issues. Since I started working as a China adoption coordinator for an international adoption agency in 1995, I have been aware that within about twelve years, there were over tens of thousands of infant girls adopted by American families. Most of them were abandoned by their birth parents simply because they were born female. However, China is a changing country. I am happy to learn that in recent years, especially in big cities, girls are no longer discriminated against and they are equally valued by their parents as boys.
This was my first photo taken when I was three years old with my father, two older sisters and our nannie. My mother was away working in a labor camp. Unlike my eldest sister who had many baby photos of herself, I did not have one single baby photo.
My parents spent the Chinese New Year in 1964 with great expectation and excitement. They were soon expecting the birth of their third child. One week after the Chinese New Year celebration, I was born. Unfortunately, my very birth was a big disappointment to my parents, especially to my father. After having two daughters already, my parents desperately wanted their third child to be a son. Although both my parents were college educated and both worked for the government agencies in China, they were influenced by the deeply rooted Chinese culture of valuing boys over girls. The world I was born into was cold and bitter, like the winter in Chengdu. My mother had to go through the labor and child birth without the comfort and support from my father or other family members because during that time in China husbands or relatives were not allowed in the birthing room. After she gave birth and returned to her ward, she was not received by a loving and supportive husband. What she saw in my father’s eyes was disappointment and displeasure. She held me tightly in her arms with sadness and a deep sense of shame. For in China at that time people believed that it was the woman’s fault and incompetence if she was not able to give birth to male off-springs.
A photo of me taken at home in 1968 when I was four years old. I was standing on a small stool putting my hand on the most expensive possession of our family at that time -- a radio.
My mother reacted very defensively to whatever my father would say or do while she stayed at the hospital after my birth. One day, she accidentally spilled some water on the sleeve of her cotton coat, she asked my father to take the coat to the kitchen and dry the sleeve over the stove. She did not want to catch a cold wearing a cotton coat with a wet sleeve. My father told her that he had bought himself a movie ticket and was just getting ready to leave so she had to wait. My mothered was so shocked and enraged by my father’s insensitive and cold response that she threw her cotton coat right into his face in front of other three women who shared the same ward with her. My mother shared this story with me several times when I was older. Each time she repeated this story was when she and my father had a fight, which happened a lot during my childhood. My mother carried her resentment toward my father for many years to come. She could not forget about how she was treated by my father when she was at the weakest of her time after giving birth to me.
A photo of my mother and two older sisters taken at a photo studio in Chengdu in 1962, two years before I was born. My mother had a perm and a scarf which matched the scarfs she put on both my sisters. My sisters also had decorative ribbons on their hair.