Insufficient Women or Insufficient Equality
Feminism is the equality of the sexes in social, political, and economic standards. Balzaccand the Little Chinese Seamstress shows how many assumptions and expectations there are of women, compared to those of men. This piece of literature does not support feminism because not only does the Little Chinese Seamstress tolerate two men who think they are better than her, but her ultimate solution to make a better life for herself stems from her newly bred confidence from her realization that beauty holds a great value. This is one of many stereotypical assumptions people make, saying that women must be beautiful in order to be successful, fit in, and find love. She gives in to Luo’s idea of sophistication which ultimately supports men’s unrealistic expectations of women and their way of thinking that places themselves above women.
From the beginning of the novel, Luo underlines the Little Chinese Seamstress as not good enough for him. After the narrator and Luo first meet the Little Chinese Seamstress, who is called the “princess of Phoenix mountain” (Sijie 21), the narrator questions Luo about his feelings for the Little Chinese Seamstress saying, “‘Have you fallen in love with her?’”, Luo replies, “‘She’s not civilized, at least not enough for me!’” (27). Luo’s prejudice against the village women displays how there is a male dominance encompassing society. By embracing these beliefs, Luo stereotypes the Little Chinese Seamstress as a lesser person than men; especially since the Little Chinese Seamstress is viewed as the best woman in the area by many others. The two boys also come across a book, upon which, they automatically think to read the book to the seamstress so that they might educate her and improve her. This exhibits how the village women are constantly constructed by society to strive to impress men, but the community never seems to ask the men to upgrade themselves for women. This is a socially unequal pressure directed towards women in the village, which implies that Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is not a piece of feminist literature.
In Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, the characters often overly dramatize any visit with the Little Chinese Seamstress. No matter the occasion, the boys are always ecstatic to see the Little Chinese Seamstress; however, they view her more as a fascinating object than a person. When the Little Chinese Seamstress loses her virginity, she is compressed into the stereotypical power of men over women; especially because the book does not make a big deal of Luo losing his virginity. By speaking unequally about the two events, the book shows the higher expectations and society’s constricting rules for women in the time period. This differs from the idea of feminism because both men and women should be socially equal, meaning women should be given the same expectations and allowances of men. When the Little Chinese Seamstress is swimming in the company of Luo, she says, “I just love pleasing Luo, that’s all there is to it” (144). The simplicity of her tone shows how the need for her to better herself for Luo is now a commonality. At this point in the story, Balzac and other authors have changed the seamstress’s opinions and morals. Since the Little Chinese Seamstress is a woman, she should have retained the idea of women being equal to men; instead by saying this, she gave in to society’s idea of women. This does not support feminism because women do not need to change themselves for men and should be given the same standards as males as well.
The ending of the story ultimately does not support feminism, as women need not rely on beauty and their physical appearance. Luo’s attempt at making her more pleasing to him ends up changing the Little Chinese Seamstress so much that she is independently able to follow her dreams of a better life. This would be an empowering ending for women, until the author tells the readers why the seamstress is inspired. The last line of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress says, “She said she had learnt one thing from Balzac: that a woman’s beauty is a treasure beyond price” (184). After all that transpired, the only way for her to become confident was for her to realize the power of beauty. Although beauty is unfortunately very important in society, women should not be taught this like the Little Chinese Seamstress learned from Balzac. Men are never required to bind their feet, wear makeup, or even dress elegantly. Women are constantly asked to change themselves to be good enough of men, as they are treated inferior to men. The book needs to describe a place where men and women are entirely equal to support feminism, which is not showcased in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. This does not support feminism because beauty does not define a woman, and neither should the way someone fits society’s standards.
The voice of women is lost in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress’s society, as they are given more rules to follow and a guide from society about what makes someone a woman. Men in the society are infrequently asked to change and can do as they please without repercussion. Balzac did not educate the Little Chinese Seamstress, he just gave an unconfident girl confidence. The book does not support feminism because it is socially unequal. The Little Chinese Seamstress shows us that men think of women inferior to them, women are often considered uncivilized compared to men, society has higher standards for women, women are taught to do whatever possible to please men, and the upper-class taught young women that beauty holds the highest value. All these principles are unfair and represent gender inequality. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is not a feminist piece of literature because it does not support the social equality of the sexes.
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Feminism is the equality of the sexes in social, political, and economic standards. Balzaccand the Little Chinese Seamstress shows how many assumptions and expectations there are of women, compared to […]