Review of the documentary “One Child Nation”

I watched the documentary “One Child Nation” today. It makes me think about my identity of being a woman and my own story. My mom told me that because I was a baby girl my grandpa refused to give me a name and my grandma asked my mom to stay at the hospital after giving birth to me during the Chinese New Year. At that time, most of the people went home to celebrate the festival with their families but my mom had to stay in the hospital. Every time she mentioned this to me, I felt very sorry about what happened to her and felt ashamed of my own identity as a woman. The documentary makes me realize that I am not the only one. In Guangdong, traditionally, people think sons are more valuable than daughters. Due to the one-child policy, people abandoned their daughters because they want to have a son. Some families are wealthy so they keep having babies until they get a son. Even today, I knew a friend who came from Zhongshan. Her husband really wants a son. No matter how hard they tried, they got three daughters they still want another baby because they want a son. Gender discrimination deeply influences our lives in China. I remembered that when I gave birth to my daughter my parents-in-law were very happy because they always wanted to have a daughter but they only got two sons. Now they finally got a granddaughter. But a woman in the next room had a second daughter cried very hard. The nurse explained that the woman came from a rural area, which allows people to have a second baby if the first one is a girl. They all want so much to have a son, now they felt disappointed. When I learned about this, I am more aware of how gender identity impacts my life. I felt very upset when I found how my grandparents treated me because I was a baby girl. However, now I don’t blame them because they are the ones who were influenced by the traditional mindset. China was an agricultural society for more than three thousand years. For a long time, people think men are stronger than women. Families want to survive so they want to have more male offsprings. Nowadays, it’s totally different. It’s the 21st century, the digital age. Women make more than men. We are good at strategy and problem-solving. I feel more confident than before.

The other thing impressive of the documentary is how collectivism manipulated people’s lives. No one questioned and challenged the party’s leading and the policy. No matter how many lives were taken away, people never considered to disobey the party or change the policy. We don’t have individual thoughts in China. When I was young, my parents and teachers always emphasized that following rules was the best quality I should have. Obedient was the basic standard to be a good child, a good student, and a good citizen. I felt shocked to find out what I think is correct is not the way I really thinking but after being mind washed. I was never encouraged to speak up and have a different opinion. I gained benefits from following instructions. It’s easy to pass the exams, enter college, and get a job in a state-owned enterprise. However, life is more complicated. There is only one answer to the question in the exam. Life is full of multiple choices. I did not develop critical thinking skills in schools in China. Do I have the freedom to choose for my life? Being aware of the problems is not enough. What can I do with that is the next step I should consider.

I read the reviews of this documentary. Many people think it’s one-sided. I agreed. It’s better to provide some evidence to show people get benefits from the one-child policy. After all, it did help to reduce the growth of the population. Both of my parents have siblings. My father has five and my mother has three. My mother-in-law had seven siblings while my father-in-law had ten siblings. During Mao’s leading period, women were motivated to have as many children as they could. The mother who gave birth to more children was considered a glorious mother. I could never imagine that a woman had eleven children, who could form a football team. I heard that my husband’s grandma contributed her whole life to her family having babies and taking care of them. Then after her children grew up, she continued to take care of her grandchildren. I don’t want to have a life like that honestly. I am glad that the only-child policy limited numbers of people for my generation. If I have siblings, I need to share my parents' resources with them. If my sibling is a boy, he might get more from my parents. My mom always told me, Mao announced that more people means more power, however, Mao didn’t realize that more people also need more food. The only-child policy did make China become richer and prosperous. China developed the technology and become the second-largest economy in the world in the last forty years.




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