Qiu Jin (1879-1907)

"Thought should be given to the black darkness of our China; what it is like! To the hazard, danger of the road before our China, what it is like! To the black darkness of women's realm in our China: still more what it is like! Sad, downcast, I grieve, moved by affection I rise, I run forward calling loudly to elder sisters, younger sisters, companions of the womb, begging them to establish a women's publication in China. Ah! slowly, slowly a thread of light is piercing the black darkness of our women's realm, which shut in on all sides, for four times one thousand years has existed until the present day.

portrait of Qiu dresssed as samurai...I would now bind twice then thousand times ten thousand women in single indivisibility under our guidance; would at dawn and dusk penetrate women's realm throughout the country discussing general control in women's affairs; would provide women with dashing waves of independence in life's course. I would now rouse women's essence, spirit, to rise as birds in flight over fields, leaving swiftly earths dust, that they may speedily cross the frontier into the great world of light and brilliance. I desire that they be leaders, awakened lions, advance messengers of learning and intelligence; that they may serve as rafts crossing cloudy ferries; as lamps in dark chambers. That they may let shine, from the center of women's realm in our country, bright light resplendant, glittering rare in the beauty of its color; that on the whole earth globe, they startle the hearts, snatch the eyes of men, causing all to applaud, rejoice.

I desire my companions of the womb, uniting to encourage themselves enthusiastically, to expend their strength, to pray that this magazine be established.

--from Qiu Jin's appeal for a Chinese women's newspaper Zhongguo Nu Bao which she and Xu Zi-hua founded.

Qiu's activism included organizing for women's rights and education and against the customs of binding girls' feet and selling women and girls into slavery. She herself lost custody of her children because her husband disapproved of her political action. The photo (above left) shows her defiantly dressed in male samurai garb during her political exile in Japan. Jin was involved in Sun Yat-sen's organization of the Guomintang and in efforts to overthrow the Manchu dynasty. Its rulers beheaded her for sedition in 1907.


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