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Coon Hunting, China and The Revolution


I am no Sinophile, nor a specialist on gender equality, nor a hunter.


But ignorance of the topic at hand has never precipitated self-restraint before - why should we suddenly change things up?


I've long wondered about China. I tried digging a hole to the place from our house in Toronto when I was small. And I took Mandarin lessons later in life, learning the hard way that the same false cognate word is used for pen, pencil, brush and pussy. Given that components for my smart phone find their origin in China, along with a desk lamp, eyeglass frames, truck differential, lawnmower, football sweater, painting canvas, tape-measure, notebook, steak knives, pen, pencil, and brush, it would be easy to say we are surrounded by all things Chinese - except poetry and words that rhyme with wussy.


On reflection, why I dug a hole, I'm not sure. Chalk it up to youthful exuberance. I would not do it again. Indeed, after investing $4 trillion on housing in the past decade and with 65 million housing units sitting there all vacant and lonely, the Chinese seem infinitely capable of digging their own hole. They need no help from me.


So we should not be surprised to learn that when it comes to China and the sexual revolution, suspicions linger. At the time of the event Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Tabatha Southey posed the following cheeky question on Twitter: "What is it about the headline 'China launches woman into space' that makes me assume she did something wrong?"


Hua Lu (14 x 9 w/c)Multivalent is that question, casting doubt over the progress of women in the Middle Kingdom and their Long March to gender equity. Which, according to the New York Times, has stalled. Incomes of women relative to those of men have fallen 23 percent in rural China since 1990. In urban China they've dropped 10 percent. There is no woman in the inner circle of power, the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party, and only one in 16 members of the Communist Party’s Central Committee is female.


By the Chinese government’s own measure of how women are faring — the Third Survey of the Social Status of Women in China (2010) — nearly 62 percent of men and 55 percent of women said "men belong in public life and women belong at home." So while no one said women should be launched, the numbers who want them at home have risen 7.7 and 4.4 percent since 2000 when Chinese folks last were asked where women belong.


Now it's true Chinese women are allowed to drive cars and trucks, something Saudi Arabian women are not free to do. But even in the People's Revolutionary Army, the world's largest by number of troops, women only fill support positions, and the PRA requires female recruits to demonstrate talent such as singing or dancing as part of the selection process. (Comet Over Dayan Footbridge 16x12 w/c)


All of this gender equality slow-boating by China is taking place against a backdrop of solid progress elsewhere. For example, in America women have joined men in that once exclusively male domain – the raccoon hunt.


There was a foretaste of this as Leon F Whitney and Acil B Underwood observed in their excellent 1951 guide on the subject: "Coon hunting in one respect is like politics or religion: a fellow thinks of the kind he knows – the kind he was born into – as the only kind. He often doesn't bother to investigate the other kinds." Such as coon hunting with women, or coon hunting by women, for example.


Although the progress has not been immediate, women have been breeding coon hunting dogs in the United States since at least 1958. "Any success I've had, I owe to my husband," Mrs. William Amos told reporters of her success as a breeder. (Not sure if her first name is William or if she has a first name, story in the Toledo Blade just referred to her as Mrs. William Amos).


Incidentally, Whitney and Underwood's Coon Hunter's Handbook is indispensable by anyone of any gender who aspires to excel at finding, chasing, cornering, treeing, bagging, executing, cooking and eating the standard North American raccoon.


First thing, man or woman, you need for coon hunting is a good dog with a pleasant voice. Square brackets below are mine for the purpose of advancing gender equity: "What old hunter can't close his [or her] eyes and still hear the lovely strains of hound music floating across a valley or steam? Surely no man-made [or woman-made] music can light the fires of imagination or bring a greater thrill of delight than can a hunter's best friend – his [or her] hound," the handbook says.


Finally, some sage advice (to those such as Mrs. William Amos) on cooking the coon and presenting it to the hungry mob at supper:


"It is not a bad idea to dismember the carcass in the kitchen. At every coon supper where someone carves, there will be remarks about how much the coon looks like a cat or a monkey, and inquisitive Johnny [or Julie] will ask if Daddy [or Mommy] is sure it is not a skunk. If our experience is worth anything, it indicates that when the coon is served in pieces on a platter and camouflaged as much as possible, it will be all for the best, because someone is sure to bite on a BB shot anyway, and that will start the conversation back to the coon hunt and what a good time everybody had. Then Bill [or Bonnie] will tell how the dogs stretched the coon, and Mike [or Mary] will describe how the coon squealed, and sure as shooting someone will have to get up and leave the table." And start a whole new revolution.


(Top Image: Huxingting Tea House 12 x 9 India Ink and Sepia)