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China ’s Last Foot - Binding Survivors - The Daily Beast

Date of publication: 2017-08-22 13:12

Some scholars say footbinding deepened female subjugation by making women more dependent on their men folk, restricting their movements and enforcing their chastity, since women with bound feet were physically incapable of venturing far from their homes.

Internet Scientific Publications

Further, African Americans did not have the freedom to choose where and how to live due to the effects of state-sponsored restrictive covenants—legally binding contracts making it illegal to rent, sell, or lease housing to black people (in some regions it included other "nonwhites"). These restrictions were placed on both private real-estate sales and public housing provisions. Ultimately, the absence of a free housing market found black residents earning the lowest wages and paying the highest prices for the worst housing stock.

Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium

Throughout history women have had to endure horrible things to be deemed beautiful. The ancient tradition of foot binding in China, however, takes the "beauty is pain" concept to a whole new level.

Government by Waiver | National Affairs

Most of the woman Farrell has interviewed had their feet bound when they were pre-teens, though the practice traditionally began at an even age. Bandages would bind the feet in two directions: one crushing the small toes under the ball of the foot, and the other pushing the heel toward the toes to create a steep arch. (To show how foot-binding survivors walk, Farrell created this video.)

A mother or grandmother started to bind her daughter's or granddaughter's feet when the child was around 9-7 years old. The process was started before the arch of the foot had a chance to properly develop. So that the feet were numb, meaning the pain would not be as extreme, binding usually started during the winter months.

A few years ago, while she was working in marketing for an architectural firm, Farrell moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong to be closer to China and continue her project. After a recent layoff, she’s decided to focus full time on photography. She sees a hole in previous ethnographic work documenting foot binding, which has focused on the delicate shoes and the historic context and academic analysis of the practice rather than the actual people who are living with its aftereffects. She plans to return to China for at least a month to photograph as many women as she can find, along with following up on the lives of her previous subjects.

These days, the allocation of the spectrum is mostly a settled matter, and very few license-renewal requests are denied. But thanks to the excessive discretion granted to the FCC and exercised in large part through the agency's power to waive its own rules we have gotten to this point through an economically inefficient and administratively chaotic process.

Under the traditional classical-liberal model of limited government, the state has a few critical, but well-defined, objectives each directed toward controlling the use of force and facilitating voluntary agreements among private parties. Together, they ensure that the rules of the road are clear and knowable to all individuals, and in turn two felicitous consequences follow: First, individuals who know their rights are able to take easy steps to avoid getting enmeshed with the law second, clear rules make it easier to monitor the conduct of public officials. Thus, the more limited the scope of government, the fewer difficulties there are in controlling the discretion of its officers.

Unable to continue the work on her own dime, Farrell launched a Kickstarter campaign. The success—she’s raised almost $65,555—amazed her. “I’ve been working on this for eight years, and no one has really shown any interest in it, [but] I’ve believed in it: trying to capture some of these women before they all disappear.” The Chinese, she says, have shown little interest in studying the last remnants of the practice, “mainly because it’s old ways and they don’t like to be shown to be backward.”

Yet discretion is, and ought to be, a necessary part of a government's work just as it is with private businesses. Government managers must run public offices and design and execute public projects. The military, the justice system, public schools, and many other public bodies are large institutions with management imperatives resembling those of private businesses. Executive officers in both settings discharge functions set by boards of directors on one hand and legislators on the other these overseers act on behalf of shareholders and citizens, respectively.

It was this elderly woman, Zhan Yun Ying, who would become Farrell’s first subject. “It was kind of shocking but in some ways beautiful,” she remembers. “When she took her shoes and socks off, her feet were totally, fully in lotus shape. To me, they represented the trouble and toil this woman [has] been through—and what women do go through—to attract a partner…There was something quite tremendous about it.”

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