This week the English media circus has had a field day over the sexist remarks and behaviour of Sky Sports’ anchormen Andy Gray and Richard Keys. Although their off air remarks are ‘pre-historic’ (Rio Ferdinand) it is not particularly surprising and it seems to state a fact that most people would have thought was obvious.
At Brushduck we will be breaking another shocking story. No, it is not about the religious persuasion of the current Pontiff, nor is it concerning the defecation habits of bears in coniferous outgrowths.We have uncovered more sexism. This time in Chinese folk music.
The song in question is one of my personal favourites.
or ‘Girl from the the city of Daban’
please watch the priceless video below:
At further examination we can get to the bottom of the ‘sexism’ that pervades this folk yarn.
Daban City’s stone streets – hard and flat, ha!
Watermelons big and sweet! (Is this a sexist metaphor? … I think so)
A girl who lives there has long braided hair, ha!
And a pair of beautiful eyes!
If you think of marrying, don’t marry another,
You must marry only me.
Bring a lot of money
And your younger sister, riding in the horse cart too!
(here we have the assumption of the male protagonist that her younger sister will also be ‘up for it’. In later versions such as the one in the video – this is softened to ‘bring your dowry’)
‘Girl from the city of Daban’ is essentially a song wooing a young virginal girl from Xinjiang. When I have asked Han Chinese about the song they will tell you it is a classic Uighur song. However, when I travelled around Xinjiang singing the song in mandarin expecting a rapturous response from my Uighur brothers I was met with fierce glares. In retrospect I can see why singing a song about taking away their young women (especially one sung in Chinese) might come across the wrong way. It would be a bit like an American singing about how hot Iraqi virgins are…