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Download the book here (PDF with higher resolution images).
About this Work
In Mona Eltahawy’s book The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, she writes about anger as a valuable tool that should be used by women to fight against the patriarchy (2). “Tale of the Huli Jing” follows a similar theme, but it also depicts how the fight against misogyny and patriarchy in our society requires more than just the contributions of women. The Huli Jing are spiritual beings that exist in Chinese culture. It is believed that they were evil shapeshifters that bewitched married men with their beauty.
The Huli Jing in the children’s book I created differ from that of the myth. I wanted to change the misogynistic storyline and convert it into a cautionary tale to emphasize how the fight against prevailing misogyny requires the contribution of both men and women. Rather than having the Huli Jing be a symbol of sex and temptation, the Huli Jing in the book are representative of the suppressed anger of the women in the village. The book starts off following the typical myth of the Huli Jing until the main character, Ai, learns that the Huli Jing were not what the men described and are actually the women in the village.
Since I adopted the story from a Chinese myth, I wanted to integrate some traditional Chinese beliefs and superstitions without taking away from the cautionary tale. For example, in Chinese culture, the moon is one of the most powerful sources of spiritual energy. This is referenced in the book, as the moon is the one that grants the women in the village the power to shapeshift in order to give them an outlet to safely express their anger. Instead of a violent form of expression, the Huli Jing remove the negative energy that surrounds men, which is representative of a patriarchal mindset. Before granting them their powers, the moon warns the women that they must find a way to reverse the patriarchy within one hundred years or else the switch will be permanent and the women will lose their human form forever.
The ending of the book shows that there has not been any change in modern-day society yet. Patriarchy still exists, which is why all the women remain in the form of the fox. The intent of the book is to teach children the importance of allowing women to feel anger when injustices are committed against them and that patriarchy will not disappear unless more people start joining the battle.
If the villagers allowed the women to express their anger in their human form there would have been no need for the moon to grant them the power to shape shift. If the men assisted the women in fighting the “negative energy” then the women would not have lost their human form. The women use their anger in their Huli Jing form to fight against patriarchy, but it is not enough to save them before the hundred years have elapsed. Through the Huli Jing, the book depicts the dangers of letting this kind of society continue.
Eltahawy, Mona. The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. Beacon Press, 2020.
About the Author
Lauren So is a sophomore at Fordham University. She is majoring in Biological Sciences and is currently on the pre-health track. Lauren believes that children’s literature plays a crucial role in the intellectual development of students and, therefore, should reflect deep-rooted issues that continue to persist in society.