Ancient Chinese beliefs are at the heart of Cinderella Moon. When the first Cinderella was written, Chinese believed that the balance of Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine) were the basis of well-being; that events in the heavens reflected events on earth; and that men were better than women.
The ancient Chinese believed that everything in the world has two seemingly opposite forces existing in relationship with each other. They called these forces Yin and Yang. The quality of our lives and our world’s overall well-being depend on opposing tendencies being in balance with each other.
“Male” forces were defined as Yang, symbolized by the sun, and the “female” forces were considered Yin and symbolized by the moon. To keep heaven running smoothly, the King in ancient China had the job of maintaining balance between the sun and moon.
Chinese Kings and their astronomers measured, tracked and predicted the behavior of heavenly bodies because they believed that what happened in the heavens was intimately connected with what happened on earth.
Like all Yin-Yang opposites, Heaven (masculine) and Earth (feminine) reflected each other. If there was a disturbance in the Heavens, the cause was likely on Earth. Likewise, if any of the Heavenly bodies somehow strayed from where they belonged, the resulting imbalance of forces would cause problems on Earth.
The male principle Yang was given qualities that were often interpreted positively, and the female principle Yin was given qualities that were considered inferior. So, it’s pretty easy to see how this ancient view of the world made the low status of women seem “natural” and why boys were universally considered more valuable than girls.
The preference for boys was reflected in the family, which was a revered institution in ancient Chinese society. Family bonds were both sacred and hierarchical and, in the marriage between a man and woman, men led the way. In an agrarian society, it was sons whose labor would provide parents with old-age security. Since family property passed to the eldest son, boys provided family continuity over generations.
Daughters, on the other hand, were considered merely mouths to feed who would end up in other families anyway, usually at the cost of a precious dowry. Girls were rountinely treated as property, bought and sold between families, or even brokered through matchmakers. If a wife couldn’t produce her husband a son, she was often replaced or demoted by her husband marrying additional wives until the family had its son.
Beyond Prince Charming
It’s in this world that Cinderella Moon’s protagonist Mei Mei … an orphaned girl without family ties … finds herself at the mercy of her scheming stepmother. The moon grows unhappy at Mei Mei’s sad fate. It reflects the fact that she’s not where she belongs … and it starts to lose its way. As her fate grows worse, an imbalance grows between moon and sun … until the heavens eventually endanger all life on Earth .
With a little help from magic, there might be time for Mei Mei to find were she belongs … so the moon can find where it belongs. She might just become a girl who saves the world.