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Women Can Hold Up Half The Sky

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Chapter Summary

Women can hold up half the sky is a Mao-era household phrase that most people have assumed to be a direct quote from Mao Zedong. With the iron curtain separating China from the West, the first tale of the women's liberation movement was passed along by indirect accounts that were general and few and far between. The second tale, heard shortly after the end of the Cultural Revolution in the early 1980s, almost completely changed the perspective. The rise to dominance of postmodern or poststructuralist feminism in the 1980s and '90s, especially in the West, influenced the emergence of what can be collectively identified as the third tale of the CCP-led women's liberation movement. A "fourth-told tale" foregrounds the phrase funü neng ding banbiantian in a way that is simultaneously conscious of both the shortcomings of the CCP-led women's liberation movement.

Keywords: Mao Zedong era; poststructuralist feminism; women's liberation movement



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