Gendered memory During the first decade after the establishment of PRC, various ambitious policies were enacted and implemented. However, other than the numbing official records and dossiers, the response to these governmental initiatives from the society at that time was unknown to us. Among the society as the recipient of governmental management, the rural area was less silent than the urban citizenship, and among the rural, women’s voice was rendered all the more distant to us. Hershatter’s study was an effort to explore the dynamic responses from the rural women-- the largely under-represented class, the most marginal population under the rule of the Communist party-state in the 1950s. By conducting interviews, the author provided us with a history of 1950s written from the perspective of rural women, their oral narratives, and their “gendered memory.” An apt interpretation of gendered memory can be made through examining women’s understanding of historical moments and events. Women remembered the various movements of the 1950s differently from men, not to mention the state archives. For example, they were familiar with the term Great Leap Forward Movement, but in their internalized memory and oral presentation, the movement was referred to as “the time when we smelted steel” or “the time when we ate in collective dining hall.” The Three-Year Famine was understood by women as “the years of low standard when squash and other vegetables were substituted.” Women also marked years by the birth years of their children, the natural bond between their gendered roles as wife and mother, the under-standard medical development, and the high infant/children mortality rate at that time “gendered” women’s memories. State-effect paradigm: the molding of rural women’s minds through cadres One theme that persists in the book is the endless negotiation between the state and the society. In this book, the significance of “society” should be restricted in the scope of its study, the rural Shaanxi 陝西, a relatively backward area among the general rural countryside of China back in the 1950s. Hershatter showed how the communist state-party exerted its power to the mass rural population. Women played an important role during the negotiations and communications between the government and the society. For example, during the implementation of various central decrees such as the literacy improvement classes, the marriage law, the collectivization movement, the poorly educated rural majority was reached and persuaded by cadres sent by Women’s Federation. Hershatter mentioned that cadres would actually go to the households in the village one by one, living with the peasants to convey the government polices by persuasion and education. Such everyday practice was called “dundian” 蹲點, a term easily reminds us of Sheldon Garon’s “Molding of Japanese Minds.” Garon proposed that the Japanese government executed its state power on its population through Kyoka (教化 moral suasion), especially on its female subjects. Through inculcating Japanese women/housewives the importance of everyday frugality, the state successfully accumulated capital and wealth. Speaking Bitterness “Speaking Bitterness was most often elicited by party-state cadres from poor peasants and women in a public forum designed to break the power of local elites and to build support for the new state (p. 34). ” Women referred to the period of time before 1949 as “feudal.” They also attributed the misfortunes they suffered before the savior Communist Party bestowed them liberation to feudalism. Their accusation of feudal oppression was seclusion. However, as Hershatter’s second chapter “No One Is Home” suggests, rural Shaanxi women were denied the privilege of being secluded/protected at home before 1949. Due to various political turmoil and natural disasters, women were constantly exposed to the outside world. They fled from soldiers and bandits; they wandered from village to village to beg for food; they also worked in the field replacing the absent men who had been conscripted by Guomingdang. These girls and women had already appeared in public sphere, they did not, as themselves had claimed, emerge outside of home as the result of the emancipation and liberation of the new party-state led by benevolent communists. Such narrative practice betrayed the government’s manipulation of the society’s ideology. It might be understood in Foucaultian term of govern mentality: Foucault emphasized that power seeks to mobilize the conduct of individuals towards certain ends through their active participation in the system. In other words, it operates through the governing of self-governing. In the case of rural women’s Speaking Bitterness practice, because the Party-state regarded women’s seclusion as the most distinctive and detestable feature of feudal order, the women actively cooperated with the newly established government by misremembering their past as one of confinement, rather than unprotected exposure. Gender inequality: During the collectivization period, both men and women had to work collectively in the fields to earn work points. However, the distribution of points was based on what kind of person (men or women) was performing the labor rather than on the task itself. Women earned less points than men did even though they paid the same amount of effort. Nevertheless, women held no resentment toward such system because they see it a result of gender difference rather than gender inequality. What they did not see was, even such seeming objective, immutable, scientific gender difference, was subjectively justified by the physical difference between men and women. Should physical strength to become the sole benchmark of the evaluation of the worth of women’s labor? Can economic equality be downplayed just because women were recognized equal to men politically and ideologically?