Monday, October 29, 2007

De’erhe: The Seventies

 The Seventies
    by De’erhe  tr. FAN Jinghua

Women’s trousers then
Opened on one side


  This is a very cute two-line poem from a series of two-line poems by the author, born in 1976, who is often associated with the Lower-Body Poetry and Colloquial Style Poetry and usually publishes his poems in his own blog or associated websites. This poem lends to interpretations to several dimensions, if the socio-cultural background of contemporary China is taken into full consideration. In the late seventies, Mao died (in 1976) and the Cultural Revolution ended; but the state economy system was still in full swing. Mao’s era was a time when the differences between the sexes were consciously removed or suppressed. Women did not wear skirts but trousers. However, men’s trousers with fly-fronts were obviously not catering for the female, therefore the side-opening was adapted into the female style. This both enforces and weakens the visual perception of the sexual identity of the wearer. The alternative interpretation of this then would be about sex or sexuality and their use. Compared with contemporary lower-riders and such, which overtly expose the body, trousers fully cover the women’s body, which went together with the conservatism about sex at that time. However, behind this sexual conservatism was the tension about voyeurism and economical use of sex or sexual appeal. In a time when everyday consumption products were not plenty, there was so called “under-counter” market or exchange. The side-opening of the trousers might lend to this interpretation. Therefore, this two-line poem may be read as a critique of contemporary sexual morality, which might be summarized as a Cash-and-Carry act.


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