“I could hear my bones cracking” she says matter-of-factly. “I lost all feeling. That was the end of them.”

This is Ni Yulan describing her questioning by the police. This is what policing looks like in a society where there are no gendered double standards in the way police treat suspects.

So. The police broke her feet and kneecaps. She is confined to a wheelchair as a result.

Ni Yulan is a lawyer who got involved with fighting semi-legal land grabs in her neighborhood in Beijing. This is a very live issue in China these days. On top of that China is passing through a change of leadership equivalent to a presidential election. This happens about once every ten years these days and this time around the hot issue is political reform and individual rights, such as the right not to have your joints broken when talking to the police or to have your land taken without any kind of due process or equitable compensation. Ni Yulan has been in this struggle for over ten years now, but this was an especially inopportune time to stick her head above the parapet.

Well at least they treat men and women alike under questioning. When’s the last time you heard of the police in the US shooting an unarmed woman or beating her into a coma because she was “resisting arrest” or tasing her into shit-soaked submission or something else along those lines?

I think about Ni Yulan and people like her when I hear about the trials and tribulations of women’s suffrage activists in the UK and the US. Some were jailed, some were even force fed. Oh, how awful! How they suffered! This includes that White Feather ghoul Pankhurst.

Force fed. I wonder how they would have stood up to re-education on a baseline of 400 calories a day. Maybe they would have emerged as something better than social parasites in bustles and yards and yards of silk.

Meanwhile their men were dying in utter misery in the trenches of WWI, their rich social equals in even greater percentages than their working class soldiers. What brave warriors those suffragettes were.

….not fit to carry the slop jars of someone like Ni Yulan.

Jim Doyle
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Jim Doyle

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="2996">10 comments</span>

  • Do you have a source for rich men dying or enlisting more than working class men? I`m inclined to believe you but if I`m going to tell people this I need a source.

  • Wudang, that’s a good question. I don’t have it right at hand and it would take some looking. The death rate among officers in trench warfare was extreme. It was enough of an issue that there were aristocratic houses that went extinct, supposedly.

    Here’s the first I found, don’t know how much that helps:

    This may be more useful:

  • Wudang, it does surpise people because of presentism for one thing – our modern-day elites are all draft-doging chickenhawks, like Romney. But in that day the aristocracy was an actual aristocracy, with military roots. There was a lot of romanticism in that and it got a lot of people killed.

  • Not all elites, see: John McCain. Although you are right, today its the poor that fight, in the past it was the rich and powerful. (See: Knights.)

  • I dunno Lamech; if you go back only a couple hundred years, you have rich people sending slaves in their stead to war. And if you go back to the time of knights, wasn’t it just that the rich were the only ones wearing armor? Feudalism was pretty notorious for wealth being concentrated in the hands of few people.

  • @Druk: In what society? If you’re talking about the US then that’s not an aristocracy.

    Not sure when you mean by “the time of knights,” but to take the example of the 100 years war, everyone on the front lines of battle were armoured, either by themselves or a rich patron. Rich people had better armour, but there wasn’t much use in a shieldwall for someone with no shield. Archers (who were usually poorer than men-at-arms) wore less armour, but they weren’t supposed to end up fighting hand to hand. At any rate, in the era in question, wealth came from land and land came from fighting. It was pretty much impossible to be a rich pacifist, with the exceptions of a few merchants.

  • Regarding aristocracy and military involvement: Watch Jean Renoir’s “Grand Illusion”. They talk about how (during WWI) the aristocracy is a dying breed because of its self-destructive ways, or something like that. Good movie.

  • jr,
    Thanks for that tip. WWI and its second act, WWII, destroyed the aristocracy as a social force in Europe, thoroughly discredited it. (Something similar happened in Japan, witht he differnece that the samurai class lost its position but a lot of the culture went on to inofmr the coprporate culture.) The Church went down too; that is when the atheization of Europe really egts going.

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