Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Questionable Fact: The Evolution of Fu Ping's Gang-Rape Memory

The Original Story:
In her book and various media interview, Fu Ping claimed that she had been gang-raped when she was only 10. It is one of the most sensational stories in her life. In Bend, Not Break, she recalls the gang-rape episode throughout different stages of her life.

First, when it happened: On Pages 75-77, she told the story of how, on "one lazy, hot summer afternoon," she was lured out of her room because her sister was thrown into a river and she rushed out to save her. She was then surrounded by "a group of about ten teenage boys" who took her to the soccer field and brutally beat her up:
For a few nightmarish moments, all I could do was feel the boys cutting my clothes off, the knife ripping into my armpits and my bare stomach, and the pain of something blunt pressing between my legs. I lost consciousness. 
The next thing I remember, I woke up at the NUAA health clinic. A kind nurse told me that I had sustained "deep cuts, a broken tailbone, and internal injuries." It had taken more than forty stitches to close the wounds. I carry the scar to this day. 
I did not understand what had happened to me or why, and I wouldn't for several years. We received no sex education in China and I had no parents or guardians to explain to me that I had been gang-raped. I thought the boys had beaten me up badly, which was cruel, but I didn't realize that what they'd done had brought deep shame upon me.
Then, two years later, she told a visiting "Uncle W" of her attack, on Page 89:
Uncle W's eyes searched my face as I spoke, as if he were looking for clues to my true identity. He asked a few questions, but delicately, so that they never felt intrusive. He was the first one to tell me that I had been raped -- and to explain what "broken shoes" really meant. He told me with a compassionate yet firm voice that it wasn't my fault.
After confiding to this "uncle" she just met, she chose not to tell her own mother, who came back half a year after Uncle W's visit (Page 126):
Nanjing Mother had never asked and I never did tell her about the rape, though I suspect at some point she guessed what had really happened. 
Finally, some time in 2005, when Fu Ping was about 47 years old. She was invited to attend a leadership training that involved "a guided hypnosis session," during which she had a sudden, unexpected mental breakdown (Page 222):
I saw blood. I saw the guts of my teacher splattered across a lawn. I saw my journals burning. Then, for the first time in my life, vivid details of the rape flooded my brain. I saw the faces of my attackers twisted into sneers. I heard them shouting, "Beat her!" I felt the sharp pain of something entering me between my legs.

The Debunking:
In a nutshell, Fu Ping did not know she was raped when it happened. The "kind nurse" who cared for her did not mention any injuries of sexual nature, which should have been severe for a 10-year-old girl after a gang-rape. Yet she was released from the clinic right away. (We will have more on the clinic and injuries in a separate post.)

"Uncle W" was a "middle-aged man" and a distant relative who came to visit Fu Ping out of blue when she was 12 years old and befriended her right away. This part of the story is truly unsettling: What kind of a middle-aged man who heard a girl that young -- who he just met -- recalling a beating that happened two years ago would immediately jump to the conclusion and inform the poor girl that she had been raped?!

Other than this mysterious "Uncle W," however, there is no mention of Fu Ping talking to anybody else about this tragedy. Not even her Shanghai mother, who she regarded as the dearest to her, she had visited quite a few times during the same time period. The sentence above she used to explain not telling her biological mother sounded strange -- how would the mother suspect or guess that she had been raped if she didn't tell, just because she was teased by other kids as a "broken shoe"?

As if that was not bizarre enough, Fu Ping would, many many years later and for the first time in her life, saw her attackers' faces and felt the sharp pain of penetration while being hypnotized. Is this gang-rape event a socalled "suppressed memory" that "Uncle W" had at least helped seeding?

Or, could it be another occurrence of the author's "emotional memory"?  After all, in the exact same "awakening," she had also seen the guts of her teacher splattered across a lawn, a "vivid detail" that she could no longer be certain about.

How believable is her story then? We can't know for sure. But in the next several posts we will look into more details of this dark episode.

1 comment:

  1. The insensitive manner in which you discuss her rape is despicable. She didn't realize she was raped until "Uncle W" informed her because she was ignorant about sexuality. Is sexual intercourse openly discussed in Chinese culture? No, I didn't think so. Add to this the fact that she had been separated from her parents and received no formal education. She didn't understand what happened to her. That doesn't negate the fact that it did happen. Being nicknamed "Broken Shoe" by her peers supports the notion that the rape did occur. It also reflects the deep insensitivity and double standard regarding this violation. Sadly, this insensitivity is not unique to the Chinese culture, but you embarrass yourself and your culture by sustaining this callous attitude. Further, the fact that you are so hellbent on invalidating Ping Fu that you would challenge her rape story reveals your own suspect motives.