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Indiana University


Video Lending Library


Program Title: A Small Happiness
EASC Code: CS-21
Series Title:
Region/Country: China
Language: English
Program Type: Documentary
Media Type: VHS
Release Date:
Running Time: 58 min.
Color or BW: Color
Program Abstract:"In “Small Happiness,” Carma Hinton investigates the conditions of life for Chinese village women today and in the past. The women themselves speak frankly about marriage, love, foot binding, the new birth control policy, work and relationships. Hinton was born and raised in Beijing. How does her view differ from those of rural Chinese women? In what ways are they similar? Is she using an Emic or an Etic perspective? Is her perspective emic in some ways, etic in others?

In rural villages in China, three-generation households are common. These extended families exert much influence and control over family members, especially women. In rural China, descent is traced through males (Patrilineal). Residence patterns are virilocal (a married couple lives with the husband’s relatives). If a woman has no sons, a family name may die out. For this reason, daughters are seen as less desirable than sons. When daughters grow up they live with their husbands and his family. A woman expresses this in the film by saying, “we raise girls for other families.” A male child on the other hand will carry on the family name and contribute to the family’s productivity by remaining in the family and bringing in a wife. How does virilocality affect rural women’s lives? What patriarchal values do you observe in rural China? Remember patriarchy, the notion of male superiority and dominance, is different from patrilineality, tracing descent through males. Do rural Chinese women see themselves as devalued? What does one of the women mean when she calls her husband “feudal” and tyrannical”. How are perceptions about women and their gender roles changing in rural China? What are the social and economic conditions that make having a son desirable? How could this be changed?

According to the new birth control policy, families can only have two children. After this the mother should be sterilized. What attitudes do rural Chinese men have about non-reproductive sex and the one child policy? Are there conflicting positions? What is their actual practice in regards to having children? What perceptions do rural Chinese men have about the one child policy?"

Data Entry Date: 9/11/2001