Female Solidarity as Hope: A Re-Examination of Socialist Feminism in the Literary Works of Ding Ling and Christa Wolf

Yejun Zou

Article Full Text

Abstract:  Recent scholarship has questioned the validity of Western feminism as a model for feminist movements in contemporary China and highlights a gap in the scholarly understanding of the tradition and trajectory of socialist feminism in China (Song, 2012; Wang, 2017). In this article, I will examine the practicality of socialist feminism as an alternative model for contemporary Chinese feminism by comparing the depiction of women in the literary works of the Chinese writer Ding Ling and the East German author Christa Wolf. In Ding Ling’s novel In the Hospital, she strives for gender equality via collaborative work between men and women, while incorporating this feminist task into the agenda of socialist revolution. Christa Wolf’s novel The Quest for Christa T., in contrast, explores female friendship as a means of overcoming stagnation and cynicism in the GDR. I ask how both authors articulate their concerns and criticism of inadequate gender practices in socialist states through the lens of women’s perspectives. This article thereby offers an insight into the way their writings negotiate women’s concern with the official narrative of life in socialist states and the extent to which these texts illuminate alternative Chinese feminist approaches in a contemporary context.

Keywords:  socialist feminism; comparative literature; women’s writing; GDR; China; transnationalism; Christa Wolf; Ding Ling.