After four months of working and living in northern India, I found myself captivated by the western-ness of China, particularly in regards to women. Deplaning in Guangzhou, China, I noticed women in short skirts and shorts, and couldn’t help but stare at their bare legs. I felt almost scandalized, and for a moment wondered if the young women were operating a second business (perhaps). But I also realized how my eyes had changed; I saw those women through the lens of a conservative culture.
In northern India, I had been covered in shapeless modest clothes and long pants in even the hottest of weather, 110 degrees Fahrenheit or more. There, women traveled in groups and rode on the “Women’s Only” Metro car in New Delhi for their safety.
In Wenchang City on the island of Hainan, as I waited for a friend in a computer repair shop, I began taking pictures of the rickshaw drivers and motorcycles passing on the street. I was amazed to see female rickshaw drivers, confidently moving independently, safe on their own. I was particularly struck by these two women on a motorbike in their western clothing, the one on the back taking the pose of a model. Only later in reviewing this photo did I notice that there was a child riding on a short high chair between the driver’s legs.
I continued taking pictures of females on wheels, as if to document this reality, one so different from what I had become accustomed to.