This rich and perceptive book shatters the myth of the submissive Asian woman with its vivid portraits of women in the region. Drawing on her many years working in Asia, Louise Williams frames the issues facing women through the experiences of individuals. We are introduced to women as varied as politicians, callgirls and mistresses, revolutionary heroines, laborers, and business magnates.
Exploring the paths to power - both private and public - available to women in Asia, Williams has had remarkable access to the famous and the faceless. She has skillfully drawn out the stories of extraordinary individuals ranging from Benazir Bhutto, Corazon Aquino, and Aung San Suu Kyi to the one-time Viet Cong commando, the Jakarta factory girl, the Korean publisher, and the 'second wife' in the Chinese mistress village that serves Hong Kong's wealthy men.
Common themes emerge: the expectation that women will place their duties to their husbands at the forefront of their daily lives, whether or not they have their own vocations to pursue; the continuing importance placed on the need to bear male children; the pervasive attitude among Asian men that extramarital relationships are their prerogative. We discover how a region that elects the world's first female prime minister at the same time tolerates child prostitution in Bangkok and Manila. We see how women can rise to the top of industrial conglomerates or be sold into servitude.
Set in a vast region of enormous social disparity and rapid change, these unique stories dispel Western stereotypes and show just how often the concerns of women in Asia differ from those of women in the West.