Can princesses have abortions? – 公主可以堕胎吗 – English

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When children bring up ‘unmentionables’ earlier than expected, they shouldn’t be laughed at, and certainly not punished or made examples of.

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom, in which the King and Queen were desperately begging the Prince to find a princess to marry. The King commanded all the eligible girls to be rounded up for the Prince to take his pick. The Prince chose a girl named Lina, and married her. One day, Lina went out to play with a young man named Vladimir, and told the Prince that Vladimir was her former boyfriend. Vladimir told the Prince that Lina was carrying his child. The Prince gave Lina a choice: stay with him, but get rid of the child, or stay with Vladimir, and get divorced. Lina chose to have an abortion. The Prince summoned a famous doctor. Lina drank a concoction the doctor made, and had the Prince strike her stomach twenty times. Much blood flowed underfoot, and the baby was no more. From that day, the Prince and the Princess lived happily together.

This is a piece a Fuzhou third grader wrote for a test. When the teacher saw it, he gave it -10 points, and then ‘shared’ a photo of it with friends on Weibo. Then the media picked it up, and ran a story about how it made people shudder and break out in a cold sweat. Netizens wailed and moaned about how the poison of television dramas had penetrated deeply into today’s children.

For a really bad piece of work, a teacher can give a low mark, even a zero, but a negative score? Obviously, -10 is a very harsh, punitive grade. And even that didn’t satisfy the teacher; his ‘sharing’ was really more like naming and shaming. Just in case the student, the parents, and friends had trouble identifying the culprit, he included a photo of the handwriting, and gave the student’s name.

Until the media camped outside his door, the teacher probably thought he hadn’t done anything wrong, and refused to be interviewed. But his refusal didn’t slow the reporters down; they kept printing their scaremongering reports. Netizens chimed in, and without anyone finding anything wrong with the teacher or the media, passed on the stories and wrote countless diatribes against the student.

A primary school student, using what they understand of their own life, rewrites a fairy tale that shows abundant imagination, lucid prose, and clear logic, and forms a complete whole, but it still doesn’t count as a good composition? What’s more, the story is written with respect, tolerance, and fairness. First, he observes and satirizes the phenomenon of rushed marriages. Then he is able to conceive that a king abusing his power, a whole country being involved in the selection of a bride, and the lady plucked from obscurity not only already having a boyfriend, but already being pregnant by him as well, as an unremarkable state of affairs. This is far superior to those adults clinging to their “holy virgins”. Thirdly, the Prince, the Princess and her lover all calmly sort out the mess. The Prince, finding his bride carrying another man’s child, doesn’t fly off the handle, and lets her choose, setting an example for real-life “officialings”. Fourthly, after the Princess makes her choice, and the ex-boyfriend leaves, the Prince goes with her to the doctor, and takes part in the abortion himself, and they live happily ever after. This sort of fair and open-minded approach to life is, I’m afraid, well beyond the reach of most adults. In addition, this student has not neglected the female pain and suffering inherent in the abortion process, as can be seen in details like “much blood flowed underfoot”.

This student’s biggest crime, it seems, was to write about things he was “too young to understand”, i.e. abortion. But for a child to have early knowledge of the things that trouble adults, and to write about them, is that really a crime? Abortions are commonplace in China, there are advertisements for them everywhere, and children will know something about it; is this really worth making a fuss about? Also, what counts as “early”? If this child were wondering where the universe came from, researching how to kill cancer cells, reading the theories of Mencius or the philosophy of Hegel, would we be tearing our hair out like this? Or, if this student had written the same fairy tale, but made it about the Prince and Princess learning from Lei Feng and dong good deeds, what grade would the teacher have given him?

The truth is, it’s the empty sexual morality and meaningless marriage ethics of adults that’s at the root of the problem. They tell their children that the Prince and Princess love each other, but don’t want to let them know that before they met each other, they may have loved other people; they tell their children that after they get married, the Prince and Princess can have children, but they don’t want to let them know that sometimes there can be unexpected pregnancies; they want their children to think that happy married life lasts forever, so how can you live “happily ever after” after getting pregnant with someone else and aborting the child?

Obviously, I’m not denying the link between a child’s age and what he can understand, or arguing that we need to tell our children all about sex, marriage, life and death. But, if they know a little, and ask questions, we should answer them honestly. For example, the abortion issue, including the debates about bioethics, women’s rights, and medical technology, can all be explained simply and concisely if they want to know. Naturally, a language teacher need not think that they have to do this, or even that they can, but they should at least understand that when a child mentions the “unmentionable”, it’s nothing to make fun of or publicly rebuke.

A student’s assignments, schedule and grades should be like an adult’s daily habits and salary: they should be regarded as the child’s private life. Apart from the teacher, the school and the parents, who need to know, they can’t be shown willy-nilly to all and sundry. The assignments especially are subject to copyright; without the writer’s or guardian’s permission, no one can reproduce, share or publish them. Teachers, parents or media who share a student’s work in this way, even if it’s out of good intentions or to praise the student, are acting unlawfully. Even if you don’t understand the law, you surely know that you shouldn’t take someone else’s things without asking.

Throughout this whole “abortion story” episode, I haven’t seen the adults showing any respect, understanding, concern or appreciation for the child, only mockery, criticism, belittlement and attacks based on hypocritical ethics of concern. This is not the attitude we should take towards the treatment and education of children. The teacher, the media, and the internet community might say in their defence that they were drawing the attention of society to the importance of childhood education. I would say, never mind some abstract ‘society’, it’s our own behavior that we should be paying attention to.

(作者为自由撰稿人)

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Source : Nanfang Zhoumo

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org