lørdag 8. januar 2022

Zhou Wei: The pressure to have a son is still omnipresent in many women’s lives

Late last winter, I found myself standing among members of my extended family — almost all of them male — at the Zhou family graveyard. Perched atop a hillside interspersed with bare bushes and lean trees, this place holds the bones of generations of Zhous: It’s where my grandfather, his brothers, my aunt, and all my ancestors lie buried. The winter sun showered us with gold, dusty light, but the icy cold still cut to the bone. As we burned yellowish money and luxury cars made of joss paper, faded memories began to resurface amid the puffs of smoke — the pains of scars half-healed. In that moment, I realized I wasn’t just sad. I was furious.

I was angry because of one particular death, that of my aunt, who died of ovarian cancer in 2020, leaving two daughters behind, one in kindergarten and the other in primary school. Originally from the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, she met my uncle when they were classmates in the same associate degree program.