FECUND Picnic on literature 热风 Julie Curates China

Julie Curates China 热风


Julie Curates China appears every Wednesday in Hoje Macau

Romeo was a girl


Pan Yue photography


On 21 February 1932 in the afternoon, Xu Qinwen brought his guest away. When he came back home, he met his servant in front of the door telling him that no-one let him in. Annoyed, he took out his own key but was unable to unlock. He rang the doorbell and nobody answered. Xu got angry. He went to the backdoor, broke the iron hook and entered the yard. It was completely silent. He was shocked to find two young female bodies covered in blood lying on the grass. One of them was his friend’s daughter Tao Sijin, now in coma and the other was her best friend, Liu Mengyin, dead. The murder took place by the West Lake in Hangzhou city near Shanghai, one of the most romantic spots in China. The scandalous episode soon became a boiling event and flooded national media throughout the country.

Tao and Liu were students at the Zhejiang Art College where they shared the dormitory and developed a romantic relationship. Both women had agreed to never marry a man in their life. However, when Liu met her teacher, she fell in love with the new woman. Tao swore she would kill one of them. The summer vacation started and Tao and Liu were both staying at Xu’s place. When Liu wanted to take a bath, she sent the servant to get her some skin product for her. Tao locked the doors as soon as he left and started a quarrel with Liu. She demanded the latter to end her relationship with her teacher. The heated argument escalated and Tao decided to take the kitchen knife. She killed her lover and passed out.

Tao was sentenced lifelong. And when WWII broke out, the Japanese seized Hangzhou. The Chinese authority released all prisoners, including Tao. Then she married the judge who ruled the trial as the juicy closing chapter. 

During China’s twenties and thirties, homosexuality was a common phenomenon among both male and female students. However, it was especially trendy for “new women” to have love relationship with one another. “Hot, homosexual sisters” was an expression of elitist social status.

After Tao-Liu scandal shook the country, the influential female magazine Linglong (《玲珑》Exquisite) called to “halt” homosexuality, stating: ” […] homosexuality is illegal, immoral and physiologically wrong. It is a criminal act. This perverse version of pornography is often dangerous. Young women must establish heterosexual love and promote a bright, happy life. ”

Inevitably, the sex trend was reflected in the literature of the time which was heavily influenced by the West. Female writers wrote extensively and significantly about hot, homosexual sisters. For instance, in Lin Shuhua’s (凌叔华 1900–1990)  novel Romeo was a girl (《说有这么一回事》), the writer encouraged the female gender to “get rid of the shadow imposed by the past and embrace experiences different from men’s perception and values”.


Lin Shuhua is likely remembered because of her love affair with Bloomsbery’s son Julian Bell, who wrote in his letter to his mother Vanessa Bell about her: “…though not beautiful, I’m very attracted to her.”

OK, how does this work, my gentle readers? Please write me an email and tell me.

julie 超辣

Determined dreamer. Published author in English, Dutch, and Chinese. Former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) captain turned artist entrepreneur and screenwriter. She survived the Cultural Revolution as a baby. In the 1990’s she left for London and has lived and worked in free exile ever since. Her work covers a wide spectrum. As journalist, she creates content covering a range of topics on contemporary China from an insider perspective. In 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, she hosted a 5-episode talk show TV China for Netherlands’ national broadcaster and discussed China’s media landscape with media stars and experts from both China and the Netherlands. From 2013-2016 she was the Editor-in-Chief of the English/Chinese bilingual magazine XiN 新, focusing on today’s China shaped by consumerism. O’yang contributes a weekly column to Hoje Macau on contemporary Chinese art and culture. Her English language book titles include: Butterfly, a historical crime love story set in the Second World War. Since May 2016 O'yang has been collaborating with Flemish photographer Filip Naudts on an art project, which has resulted in the photo novel The Picture of Dorya Glenn. Julie works from the Netherlands and Denmark.

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