Translation: Pop Singer Tan Weiwei’s New Album Spotlights Violence Against Women

A new album from a Mandopop superstar is raising awareness of domestic abuse in China at a time when a series of brutal recent news stories have sparked widespread public outrage over endemic against women in the country. The newest album from 38-year-old pop singer and actress Tan Weiwei (aka Sitar Tan) chronicles the grisly fate of so many Chinese women victimized or even killed by domestic violence. At Sixth Tone, Cai Xuejiao reports:

Since July, Tan Weiwei has been releasing new singles from her album “3811,” with each of the 11 songs chronicling stories of women from diverse backgrounds, including a taxi-driving single mom, an illiterate elderly woman, and a female poet from the Tang dynasty. On Friday, she released the final track, titled “Xiao Juan (Pseudonym),” for a generic name the Chinese authorities sometimes give to female victims of violent crimes.

[…] Many who have praised Tan’s latest single see parallels between its lyrics and several real-life incidents of violence against women, including the grisly murder of a woman by her husband in the eastern city of Hangzhou in July. He dismembered her body and disposed of it in a septic tank.

[…] Tan’s latest song has triggered wide discussion online, with a related hashtag on microblogging platform Weibo viewed over 320 million times as of Monday evening. Many users have commended the singer’s courage in speaking up for female survivors and shedding light on an uncomfortable topic that tends to get swept under the rug.

“For society to improve, brave voices must be heard, and constructive actions must also be taken,” read one comment under a related post. [Source]

Phoebe Zhang of The South China Morning Post writes about the cases which inspired Tan’s lyrics in her most recent song:

Listeners recognised references in the lyrics to recent incidents in China that made headlines: “petrol” is a reference to Tibetan vlogget Lhamo, who died after being doused in petrol and set on fire by her ex-husband in September, while “sewage” references the case of a woman in Hangzhou killed and dismembered by her husband, who flushed some of her body parts down the toilet.

[…] The song also touches on misogyny, listing Chinese words with negative connotations that have the radical (component of a Chinese character) “women” in them – jidu (jealousy), nu (slave), changji (prostitution) and biao (bitch). [Source]

CDT has translated the lyrics of the most recent single, “Xiao Juan (Pseudonym).” In an effort to interpret the element of wordplay contained in the song, editors have parenthetically included the Chinese characters underneath two lines where each character contains the radical for “woman” (女).

Xiao Juan (Pseudonym)

Our names are not Xiao Juan
The alias is our last defense
You see us in breaking news
In pixelated photos from the crime scene

You spend lots of energy to silence us
No one dares to disobey
You use your fists, gasoline, and sulfuric acid
Shave our heads, troll us, or judge us in silence

In the end, this is how you describe us:
Banshee, shrew, whore, and hooker
Fishwife, bitch, slutty man-eater.
[奻姦妖婊嫖姘娼妓奴
耍婪佞妄娱嫌妨嫉妒]
Look, this is how you belittle us.

Erase our names, forget our beings
Same tragedy continues and repeats
Lock up our bodies, cut off our tongues
And silently use our tears to weave a silk brocade
Oh

Flush us down the drain,
From wedding bed to riverbed
Stuff my body into a suitcase
Or put it in a freezer on your balcony

Near a school, a factory, or a busy street
A nice spot that our loved ones pick
In the end, this is how you discipline us:

Banshee, shrew, whore, and hooker
Fishwife, bitch, slutty man-eater.
In the end, this is how you circumcise our souls

Erase our names, forget our beings
Same tragedy continues and repeats
Lock up our bodies, cut off our tongues
And silently use our tears to weave a silk brocade
Oh

Our names are not Xiao Juan
The alias is our last defense
Our tragedy makes excellent after-dinner chats
Then you forget about us in no time

Know my name, and remember it
When can we put the tragedy to an end
Bury my body, and unknit my brows
Use your tears to shine my tombstone.

Know my name, and remember it
When can we put the tragedy to an end
Bury my dreams, and rest my souls
Use your tears to engrave my tombstone
Oh [Chinese]

CDT Chinese editors have pointed to a fan-made music video for Xiao Juan, in which the song plays over a montage of news footage covering violence against women.

【CDTV】“我们的名字不叫小娟,化名是我们最后体面”

See also a recent Chinese-language interview with Tan Weiwei, and a performance of her new album time-stamped to the rendition of “Xiao Juan.”

Translation by Yakexi

 

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