专题采访

马丽新书访谈(二):女性应当坚定无畏地发出声音

 

四季书评:你的新书最近好像一石激起千层浪,收到各种各样的反响和公共讨论。有没有一些让你觉得出人意外的回应?

马丽: 有些负面回应是在我预期中的,因为尽管作为一本基于11年档案史料和口述史访谈的研究,书中提及的一些事件和个人,都是比较有争议性的。我书中指出的一些现象(包括对女性的边缘化和性侵现象),不是一些相关人士他们想要看到的。最近的一些阴谋论、泼脏水、语言暴力、网络水军、甚至动用非学术的权力,不仅对我甚至对于一些受访者都进行施压和报复,这也都是延续我书中所描述的激进化现象,我对此并不感到惊讶。比较反讽的是,我为反性侵发声,他们却指责我没学术伦理,但这些人却丝毫不关心弱势女性所遭受的苦难。

但我获得了更多是比较正面的回应和鼓励,特别是来自学术界和公共媒体,觉得这本书很有意义,填补了一个空白,值得关注,反而让我很意外(in a good way),当这本书出来以后,很多过去被认为不适合公共讨论所谓“敏感”的议题,现在大家不觉得不能公开讨论一些事件了,特别是处在社会边缘群体的女性的关注,这是非常重要而有意义的。

 

四季书评:最近在很多微信群里传播的一篇署名G. K. Deng的批判,题为“学术外衣下的危言耸听”,好像很尖锐。你怎样看?

马丽: 首先,这是一个假名字,更不是学者,没有任何的学术声誉和对话的可能。对于我书中第一章已经澄清的伦理原则(public domain里出现的人用实名,其他人有匿名的选择),他或他们表示不满。对于一个不熟悉学术规范、拒绝被说服的人,我也没办法说服他。

其次,从该文本本身透露出更多信息,就是作者是一个或多个我书中所写的体系内部的男权人士,他(们)指责我为什么选择性使用一些档案,而不去用另外一些他(们)认为好的内部会议档案。这说明他们是看过内部档案的。也就是说,他们希望我使用与他们有利的“官方”内部档案。但我在书的第一章已经说过,我只使用在公共领域传播过的档案,而不是内部档案。他们如此关注“教会法庭审判王华生”的细节,但显然他们似乎只是活着自己权力构建的宗教世界中,却忘了这本是一场因Facebook言论而起的闹剧。这种高度荒谬在于,就好比我们讨论的是能不能吃人,而他们辩护说自己是用刀叉吃的,不是用手拿着吃的。

还有就是,他们继续在文中为所谓的男性权柄辩护,号称“古老的教义”。他们不会进行公共讨论,只能用一些僵硬内部“黑话”来批评这本书,他们根本就缺乏公共的对话能力。甚至很荒唐的是,他们谴责我只访谈性侵受害者(尽管这些受害人向我不仅提供了可信的证据和记录,还有第三方的人证),反而怪我没有去访谈施害者 (而这些人本身就常在公共领域亮相,满口仁义道德),这是非常荒谬的。

躲在这篇文章后面的,是几个时代错乱的头脑,他们不敢见光,只能用一个假名字,迷惑自己小圈子里一些人。而任何文本都不是完美的,这篇反而给读者一些此地无银三百两的发现。

也因为这篇不伦不类的文章,引导一些不知所以然的人真的以为我违背了学术伦理,不买书、不读书就留言在Amazon上谩骂(内容大家可以自己去看)。有人说我暴露了一些人名,没有保护研究对象,等等。这些评论仍暴露出他们缺乏基本公共讨论的修养和能力。

不过,也许我应该感谢他行文的“危言耸听”(sensationalism),让很多本来没兴趣的人,也想去买一本看看,到底马丽写了啥,让别人这么慷慨激昂地反驳,还只能通过私下进行传播。有一句老话,所有的公开讨论都是好的公开讨论(All publicity is good publicity).

 

四季书评:类似你这本新书的研究,需要遵循Protection of Human Subjects (IRB保护研究对象)的要求吗?

马丽:回答这个问题的确需要一些学术界的常识。我的书是在美国出版的。近年,联邦政府特别将历史学术研究、口述历史和新闻类研究,从Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects《联邦政府对保护研究对象的政策》条款中删除。后者是自1991年施行的旧规范,多针对科学界用人作为研究对象的,如自然科学、医学、临床心理学、实验经济学等。

我虽然在康奈尔大学接受的是社会学训练,但近些年陆续出的书,都是口述史和社会史类的。学界一直提出,历史研究项目不应受IRB约束,因为历史研究一般依赖历史文件和档案,也就是在历史事件中对一些个人的识别identification,包括“直接关于具体个人的信息收集和使用”。自此条款以后,历史学界或口述史协会对研究者只提供可参考的“最佳做法”(Best Practices),不是硬性要求。

实际上,很多历史研究、口述史著作都是用实名的,最著名的系列包括牛津大学出版社(Oxford University Press)和帕尔格雷福出版社(Palgrave MacMillan)的口述史系列(我的另一本关于中国女性的书今年年底会在这个系列出版)。认为口述历史一定要匿名处理的,是没搞懂这个领域的规范和常识。

我在此前访谈中已经说明,这本书历时十余年,出版社的流程决定几时问世。关于身陷囹圄的某位公共人物,我个人希望他得到公开公正的审判。但正因为他是公共人物,本应受到公共监督。这本书也论述了政治大环境收紧的背景,并没有对此进行回避。

 

四季书评:可以再解释一下书中的实名提及原则吗?

马丽重申我书中第一章所讲的,我这本书中提及的实名人士有三类:(1)在公共领域(public domain)有公开记录的人,包括参与公开大会、机构的负责人,以及机构公开网站上的实名人士(2)在教会公共事务中出现过实名的人,包括教会周报上实名的人,(3)经许可后愿意实名提及的口述史访谈者。

我能理解使用实名会“冒犯”一些已经比较出名的负责人,但我想说的是,他们需要懂得逻辑一致:不能既想要在公共领域出名,又想免去公共监督;就想是,你不能想要在镁光灯下露脸,又不让别人看到你没穿鞋,一样的道理。我书中谈到的很多海外机构,所用的都是它们自己在网站和媒体上进行宣传的材料,但为什么用在我的书中就成为了一种对于这些机构和个人进行了曝光,危害到了他们的安全?根本不存在这种道理。对普通读者来说,这个逻辑是一致的,道理很容易理解。

另外,我要说一点就是,这些海外机构也应当出来说明它和秋雨和华西区会之间究竟是什么关系,它对于秋雨这个体系下遭受到伤害和经济损失的个体应当承担怎样的责任,特别是它们是否应当对于被权力体系虐待和伤害,因为怀孕而被解雇的女性,被性侵的女性等等这些受害者应当承担怎样的责任,它们是否应当给予这些受害者公开的道歉和经济上的赔偿,这些都是进一步需要大家深入关注和继续讨论的问题。

我完全不害怕这些人仅仅用一些损人听闻的话说这本书暴露了他们的秘密,危害到了他们的安全,等等此类的荒谬指责,书中的事实都在呈现在那里,他们可以用具体的实例来支持说明自己的主张。我确实期待,他们能够进入到公共的讨论中,特别是说明他们应该对于受害者如何进行补偿。

 

四季书评:为什么对于这本书来说,伦理性的批判声音尤其比较尖锐?

马丽:我想是因为书的立论(新书访谈中提到)与很多人长期所持的印象之间,以及国际媒体所塑造的完美无缺的形象,两者在认知上有巨大的鸿沟,很多人变得感到被冒犯而竭力辩解(defensive),竭力要维护自己之前所认为的“真相”。缺乏公开的讨论了解真相,却用水军在Amazon点击差评的做法,恰恰支持了我在书中的主要论证,这就是一种激进化倾向和对舆论的操纵。

倘若非要说我有任何价值预设,那就是,作为一个女性学者,我希望呈现出这个群体中被伤害的弱者和女性的声音。这是我一贯的写作风格,我始终关注在这个社会的边缘群体,如农民工、留守儿童、被侵犯的女性等等,我认为这些也是整个中国社会最缺乏的视角。我只能说,以女性权利和自由作为论证视角,这也挑战了一些男权叙事的权威性,这些可能也让很多人接受不了。

 

四季书评:你期待读者在公共领域怎样对待这本有争议的书?

马丽:这本书之所以有争议,是因为所写的对象是一件有争议的明星教会(celebrity church),不是我写作本身的问题。在新书出来之前,这间教会就已经在国际媒体上享誉盛名,然后又产生了非常多的公共性争议事件了,我只是把一些公共事件汇总而已,当然有我自己的解读视角。如果我研究的是另一间私密化教会,伦理挑战就比较大,估计我也不会写。但这间教会是公开化程度最强的,也一直宣传公开化是他们的使命。一旦进入公共领域,就要受到公共舆论的监督,不可能在退回“内政不可干涉”、“保密协议”的逻辑。

有争议就必定有不同的声音,这也是我希望呈现的复杂性。我书中驳斥的靶子,就是对中国基督教的刻板呈现,或地下隐秘化、或因逼迫而称义,各种扁平化的描写,我认为都很失真。

没有读书就谩骂攻击的人,我也无话可说。但他们的行为已经显明他们的偏见和一贯的语言暴力。总之,我没有太多期待。我只是做了一个女性学者应该做的。我认为在中国社会各个领域,都应该有女性的声音出来。而我最近遭遇到的一些学者试图用非学术的手段进行诋毁和网络暴力也表明,如果像我这样一位女性学者,用一本全球知名的出版社出版的学术书籍,发出一些声音,都要面对如此多的阻力,可想而知,那些被这个体系所侵犯的弱势女性的声音要被外界听到,该有多困难?她们所要付出的代价会多沉重?

这本书所引发的公共讨论,也是一场针对女性发声的公共事件,我想要用我的行动来说明这一点,当女性在遭遇到不公正、暴力和侵犯时,尽管我们会面对更多的阻力、压力和黑暗,压制我们的声音,让我们成为沉默的大多数,但是,这才是我们努力要坚定无所畏惧地发出自己的声音的动力。我不想说是由我个人来代表谁发出声音,相反,我认为,在当下,每一位女性都要勇敢坚定地发出声音,维护自己的尊严,争取自己的权利。这点应当不分种族、地位、信仰、阶级等等,而我只是她们中的一位。

最后我想用这本书所写的献词来说明我自己的女性立场:“我今天的写作是献给我们的后人,让他们知道我们并没有允许这些事情在沉默中逝去;献给那些在黑暗和谎言中仍旧坚守正直的人;献给我的姐妹们。”

附英文版问答:

Women Should Raise Their Voices Without Fear: Interview with Li Ma (2)

 

Religious Entrepreneurism in China’s Urban House Churches: The Rise and Fall of Early Rain Reformed Presbyterian Church (Routledge Studies in Religion, 2019)

 

Q: Your new book seems to have caused quite a stir. Are there any surprising reactions?

 

Ma: I was expecting negative responses, because although the book is a historical scholarship based on eleven years of archival research and oral history interviews, some organizations and individuals I mention in the book have been controversial ones. What I point out in the book, including the marginalization and alleged sexual abuses of women are not what some people hope to know. So recently, there has been all kinds of conspiracy theories, verbal attacks, online mobs, big names being pulled along, these are a continuation of what I call a phase of radicalization. So I was not surprised at all. Most ironically, however, is that they criticize me for lacking ethics while totally ignoring the suffering of vulnerable women.

But there have been positive responses saying that this book is very meaningful and it fills a gap which is worth noticing. These surprised me in a good way. Since the book’s release, some sensitive topics that people did not consider as fit for public discussions are now viewed as themes that they must talk about in public.

 

Q: There is a critical review article titled “Sensationalism Disguised as Scholarship” by G. K. Deng that has been widely circulated in many WeChat groups. His tone seems very harsh. What do you think?

Ma: First, this is not a real name. Nor is he/she a scholar. He/she seems very dissatisfied and unpersuaded by what I have clearly laid out as ethical principles (public domain, anonymity as an option for vulnerable groups who are not in the public domain) in the first chapter of the book. I cannot persuade someone who is unfamiliar with academic ethical standards and who refuses to be persuaded.

Secondly, Deng’s text reveals more information that he/she (or they) is an insider. He/she accuses me for selectively using some church documents, while neglecting some internal documents he/she/they considered as good. This reveals that he/she/they have seen the internal documents, and they hope that I can use their officially approved documents. But as I explained in the first chapter of the book, I only use documents that have been circulated publicly, not internal documents. They seem to be preoccupied with the details pertaining to the “church court trial of Wang Huasheng” that they are totally oblivious to the nature of this event—a farce caused by a Facebook comment. They seem to be living in a religious world constructed by their own power narratives. This is highly absurd because, it is as if that we are discussing about whether cannibalism is good, and they defend themselves by saying that they used knives and forks instead of their hands.

Furthermore, they continue to defend for a male-dominated power and call it their ancient creed. They know nothing about civilized public discourse, but rather use some rigid jargon to criticize this book. They lack the basic abilities of public discourse.

Most ridiculously, they accuse me for only interviewing the victims of alleged sexual abuses (even though these victims provided credible evidence and documentation, plus third-party witnesses). They blame me for not having interviewed the perpetrators, who often show up in the public domain speaking words of high morality.

Hidden behind this article are a few anachronist minds, who dare not show themselves in day light, but beguile some people in their own circles by using a fake name. Any text is imperfect. This article gave readers a clumsy denial resulting in self-exposure.

Because of this dysfunctional article, some people were led to believe that I, the author, have indeed done unethical scholarship. Without buying and reading the book, they left cursing remarks on Amazon (you can see them for yourselves). Some accused me for “exposing” the names of certain people and did not project these research subjects, etc. These comments themselves show how utterly incompetent they are for civilized public discussion.

But maybe in the end, I should rather thank this G. K. Deng for his review. Because of its “sensationalism,” many people who were uninterested decided to buy the book and read it for themselves about what is it that Li Ma wrote which can anger someone to respond with such enthusiasm. As an old saying goes, all publicity is good publicity.

 

Q: For a book like yours, do you have to follow the requirements of Protection of Human Subjects?

Ma: This question does take some common sense when it comes to scholarly works. My book is published in the U.S. ,  in recent years, the federal government of the United States issued its final rule govering Institutional Review Board, which “explicitly removes” historical research (including oral history interviews) and journalism from the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, which originated in 1991. The historical scholarly community have long argued that scholarly history projects should not be subject to standard IRB procedures since the latter were designed for research practices of the sciences, such as natural sciences, medical research, clinical psychology and experimental economic research.

This federal policy acknowledges that historical research more generally depends on the identification of individual actions in history, including “the collection and use of information that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected.” Since this policy, the historical research community and oral history association have only recommended Best Practices, but not as rigid requirements.

In fact, many historical research and oral history projects used people’s real names. The most famous series are Oxford University Press and Palgrave MacMillan. Those who think that any oral history works need to anonymize the subjects, they did not know the academic norms of this subfield.

I have stated in an earlier interview. This book took more than ten years to come out. The publisher had the right to decide when it is released. About the public figure who is currently awaiting trial, I personally hope that he could be treated openly and fairly. But because he is a public figure, there should naturally be public monitoring. This book, rather than evading the suppressive climate, it documents how the political climate tightened up.

 

Q: Can you explain one more time about the use of real names in this book?

Ma: I want to restate what was clearly explained in my first chapter. There are two categories of people who I use real names in my book: (1) individuals whose names already exist in the public domain or public records, including conferences, personnel of organizations, websites; (2) individuals whose names appeared in this church’s bulletins or played major roles in its public affairs, and (3) oral history interview respondents who are willing to use their real names.

I can understand why my use of real names may offend some well-known leaders of certain organizations. But I hope that they can be logically consistent—you cannot expect to gain fame in the public domain and not expecting public monitoring; you cannot expect to enjoy the spotlight and not letting people notice the fact that you are in fact barefoot. If these individuals and organizations publicize about themselves on various websites, media and conferences, why does it become a threat once they appear in my book? This logic is consistent to the regular reader, I think. It is easy to understand.

Another point. Maybe these individuals and organizations should step out in the open and explain their relationship with the Early Rain, the Western China Presbytery. They should be responsible to people who have suffered losses and damage in Early Rain. These include members who were abused, women who were fired during pregnancy, and women victims of alleged sexual abuses. Should these individuals and organizations apologize to these people and compensate for the harm they suffered? These can be further discussed in the public realm.

I am not concerned about how their sensational charge that this book revealed their secrets and harmed their safety. This is a book about facts and historical happenings. Maybe they can use specific examples to support their counter-arguments. I do expect these discussions to happen in the public, especially when it comes to how they should compensate the victims.

 

Q: Why are there sharp ethical criticisms towards this book?

Ma: I think it is because my main arguments (in my previous interview) created a cognitive gap for many people who have held unto a stereotype. Some people got defensive and tried to preserve what they consider as “truth”. Mobilizing a cyber mob to click on negative reviews on Amazon actually support my argument in the book about radicalization.

If there were any moral presuppositions and assumptions in my research, I have to say that it is from the perspective of a female social historian. I hope to bring the voices of the vulnerable and women to the public. It has also been my consistent style of doing scholarship. I used to do scholarly that brings attention to the most marginalized groups of this society, including migrant workers, migrant children, and sexually abused women. I think this is a most needed perspective for all Chinese society. So I have to say, my perspective in support of women’s rights and freedom has also made many dissatisfied because they have long been entrenched in a male-dominated narrative.

 

Q: Do you have any other expectations for readers in the public sphere?

Ma: This book now is controversial because it documented a controversial celebrity church, not because of my writing. Before the book came out, this church has enjoyed much fame and spotlight internationally. Later it had many more controversial public events. My job is only to collect these public events and put them into a larger story. If I had chosen to study a more secretive church, there would be more ethical challenges. I guess I would not have written a book. But this very church has the most public face, and they claimed publicness as their mission.

Controversies bring out an array of voices, and that is what I desire to show: the complexity of things. My arguments in the book target against some stereotypical depiction of Chinese Christianity, including the images of secretive underground churches, or justification by persecution. These are very flattened depictions. I consider them as lacking truthfulness.

I have no more words to those who refuse to read the book and verbally attack me. But their actions have demonstrated their own bias and consistent verbal violence. In all, I have not more expectations. I only did what a female scholar should have done. I think in all areas of the Chinese society, there should be female voices speaking up. What happened to me recently, including how some scholars attempt to use nonacademic means to slander me and incite mob cyber violence against me, these shows the reality—if even I, as a woman scholar who published a scholarly book through a globally well-known publisher, have to face so much resistance when speaking up, how much more difficult does it take for the voices of vulnerable women in this system to be heard? How much more costs do they have to pay?

The public debates caused by the release of this book is in itself a public event responding to the voice of a woman. I want to show by my actions that when women experience injustice and abuses, although we face much more resistance and pressure, we still need to raise up our voices determinedly without fear. I am not speaking for other women. On the contrary, I think in the present time, every woman need to raise their voice without fear. They should strive to preserve their dignity and gain their rights. This applies to women across ethnicity, status, religious belief, classes, ect. And I am only one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

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