The Emperor and the Prostitute

Xinyi "Leila" Lin

Edited by: Xiangting Feng


He-Yin Zhen (1884-ca.1920) was a pioneering anarcho-feminist who founded the journal Tianyi that ran between 1907 and 1908 in Tokyo, Japan. Despite the fact that her writings had significant influence on the Chinese anarcahist circles during the period she was active, she has been relatively obscure to Chinese modern history. He-Yin's anarchist interpretations of women's liberation and labor stand in sharp contrast to the dominant nationalist discourse on women's reform in the early twentieth century. In particular, this paper analyzes her various uses of the word "prostitute," both concrete and abstract, in her writings in order to show how her concept of prostitution is an inseparable part of her relationship to labor, custom, and power. He-Yin's original views of these matters lie at the core of her feminist critique, which is intertwined with her anarchism.

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