An English translation of Tan Weiwei/Sitar Tan’s “Xiao Juan” (#DomesticViolence #ViolenceAgainstWomen #Abuse)

 

Translator’s Note: For background information about this powerful, haunting song, as well as image source, please see “She’s a Chinese Pop Star with Millions of Fans. Her Latest Hit is about Domestic Violence” by Elsie Chen, The New York Times, January 26, 2021. Also see “The angry pop song calling out China’s domestic violence problem” by Yvette Tan and Waiyee Yip, BBC News, December 18, 2020. You can listen to the song HERE.


 

Xiao Juan (“Little Juan”/”Jane Doe”)
Written by Yin Yue, Performed by Tan Weiwei/Sitar Tan
English Translation by Christine Yunn-Yu Sun

 

Our names are not “Jane Doe”.
This alias – our last line of defence.
See us in sensationalised media front pages,
in photos, eyes pixelated to conceal our identities.

You try so hard to mute the nightingales.
Whoever dares disobey, you’re on them every moment.

Raise your fists. Splash gasoline and acid on us.
Shave our heads. Your eyes and keyboards judge us.

How you remember us in the end:
Nasty Women. Trouble. Demons. Prostitutes. Whores. Cunts. Bitches. Sluts. Slaves.
Manipulative. Greedy. Flirtatious. Deceitful. Absurd. Suspicious. Oppressive. Jealous. Spiteful.
You despise and dictate us, drilling these words into our heads.

Hide our names. Forget our names
The same tragedy goes on and on.
Imprison our bodies. Cut off our tongues.
In silence, our tears are woven into our clothes.

Flush us down the sewage. Sink us from wedding beds to riverbeds.
Stuff us into suitcases. Store us in freezers on balconies.

At schools, in factories, by the roadside –
“Good places” that our partners choose to dump us.
How you conquer us in the end:
Nasty Women. Trouble. Demons. Prostitutes. Whores. Cunts. Bitches. Sluts. Slaves.
Manipulative. Greedy. Flirtatious. Deceitful. Absurd. Suspicious. Oppressive. Jealous. Spiteful.
Mutilate our souls, leaving behind blood and bones.

Hide our names. Forget our names.
The same tragedy goes on and on.
Imprison our bodies. Cut off our tongues.
In silence, our tears are woven into our clothing.

Our names are not “Jane Doe”.
This alias – our last presentable mask.
Over teacups or meals, as topics of chit-chat,
soon we are cast aside, dismissed and forgotten.

Know our names. Remember our names.
When will this tragedy end at last?
Bury our bodies. Smoothen our brows.
In silence, cleanse our gravestones with our tears.

Know our names. Remember our names.
Why is this tragedy still going?
Bury our dreams. Stitch together our shattered hearts.
In silence, our tears are etched into our gravestones.

 

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Random American
    Sep 18, 2021 @ 02:06:14

    Great translation! My wife introduced me to this song, and, sadly, it captures all of the abuse against women in China that my wife reads about on Douban and Weibo and relays to me. Your translation captures the intensity and anger of the original lyrics so well!

    Reply

  2. Christine Yunn-Yu Sun
    Sep 18, 2021 @ 10:52:25

    Hello Random American, Many thanks for your comment. Glad to know more people who care about this problem, as it happens not just in China but almost every other country and culture. We are all doing what we can to raise awareness of the issue. My best wishes to you and your wife and her families and friends in China. Sincerely, Christine Sun.

    Reply

    • Random American
      Sep 20, 2021 @ 13:32:06

      Yes, you’re absolutely right; it’s a global problem. I’m sorry if I implied it is specific to China. I hope this song, and translations like yours, can bring attention to this problem, and hopefully attention will bring solutions.

      Reply

  3. Christine Yunn-Yu Sun
    Sep 20, 2021 @ 14:31:38

    Hello Random American, No need to apologise because I see no implication in your comments that the problem is specific to China. In fact, as I translated the song’s lyrics, I was thinking the problem seems pretty bad here in Australia and other countries in the West. I cannot agree more with your good words: “Hopefully attention to this problem will bring solutions,”.Hence the more we talk about it, the better. Bring it to the open. Thanks again. Cheers, Christine Sun.

    Reply

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