When tennis star Li Na said her dream was to be a housewife with as few responsibilities as possible, millions of Chinese women were nodding in agreement.
But when Li uttered her words, she had already devoted 15 years to becoming one of the world’s top tennis talents. Few of those nodding young women could say they have given similar dedication to anything.
That is the crux of Please Respect Girls’ Efforts, the latest book from popular freelance writer Yang Xiwen. Her idea for the book came as much from Li Na’s story as her experiences as a student in New Zealand. It has been especially popular with readers who have overseas experience.
Yang says payback and returns are not what women should be looking for. Effort should be more about taking control of one’s own life than becoming outstanding or different.
Yang met different kinds of students. Some enjoyed a luxurious life bankrolled by irresponsible parents. Others dropped out of school and spent heavily on their looks with the goal of marrying a rich man. Both looked down on Yang when she went to work wearing average, smelly clothes.
Yang experienced their bullying and survived. She describes a life spent living out of a suitcase with no guarantee of a shelter; racial and gender discrimination; and endless part-time work.
One day, she realized that everyone’s parents would get old and become unable to support themselves. Asking a husband to provide financial support to her parents would be depressing, she said.
Yang’s stories offer vignettes of different female lives and advice on how young women can take control of their lives and live proudly.
The book’s mass-market release on the Chinese mainland is scheduled for October 1.