Sunday, June 2, 2013

I am not a nameless Chinese Mormon woman

Maxine Hong Kingston’s book, The Woman Warrior, started with the story titled “No Name Woman”. The story goes like this: No one in Maxine’s family would dare to mention Maxine’s aunt and her name was not recorded in the family genealogy. From the narrative of Maxine’s mother, the seemingly insubordinate aunt did something that brought shame to the whole family. No one knew what the aunt did and no one would want to know the true story behind, or if the aunt really did something that brought shame to the family. It became a mystery. I read this story when I was an undergrad and it stays in my mind until now. I remember this no name woman.

In most cases, only male’s names in the family are recorded in the family genealogy in the Chinese society. Rarely a woman’s name is recorded. The way women’s names are recorded is that they will be recorded as “Chan Tai Man (husband’s full name) Fu Yan (Mrs.)” or “Chan (maiden name, father’s last name) Si (surname in Chinese)”. You hardly find a woman’s full name in family genealogy.

As I serve as a temple worker and have done proxy temple ordinances for the deceased in the temple, I have seen hundreds and thousands of these no name Chinese Mormon women. Their “names” were printed in these little pink paper, all lining up and waiting for the chance to receive sacred ordinances. They are referred as so-and-so’s wife under the husband’s name, so-and-so’s daughter under the father’s family name. These women, no matter what they have done to themselves or to the family, be it good or bad, glorious or shameful, they remain nameless, they remain unrecognized. My heart grieves to know that, even for the most scared ordinances in the temple, these women receive the ordinances without name.

Hundreds and thousands of nameless women’s name and stories are hidden. Their voices are unheard.

bell hooks said in her book Remembered the Rapture: the Writer at Work, “Indeed, no woman writer can write ‘too much’… No woman has ever written enough.”

Right. No woman has ever written enough. There is a need for more voices. Women are not nameless. I told myself the same thing. I am not nameless and I have a story to tell.  


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