兄弟,蹲茅坑不? – Squat latrines anyone? – English

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After the match in Fushun, where the Shen Hua team suffered a crushing defeat, the boss Yu Zhifei couldn’t sit still, so he decided to go to the Songjiang training camp himself and eat, live and train with the team. This suddenly made me think of a term from the “Four Clean-ups movement”: “squat latrine”. First I thought this was pure “revolutionary language”, however in Fushun, a soccer journalist from the NorthEast told me: “squat latrine is an old saying from the NortEeast. I’ll tell you, in the NorthEast, its other meaning is ‘go to the toilet’.”

When speaking about Chinese soccer, I would never have thought that I would drag latrines into the picture, but it’s sounds reasonable that these two do have one thing in common—the stink. Prior to the 1980s, there were few individual latrines, only public latrines. And most of the public latrines did not have any compartment. The people who used public latrines in town were often neighbours or colleagues, and when three or five people squat in line, conversation is inevitable; greetings asking “have you eaten yet?” were also inevitable there. In this unique “public space”, listening in to what people talked about while squatting next to each other, you could see the proximity of interpersonal relations. At that time, children who often played together used to accompany each other to the latrine. Sometimes while you were eating, you could hear Gou Dan shouting from out the door: “Hei Zi, squat latrine with me?”

Although the “public space” of public latrines was unique, its social function in the Mao era was very significant, with flattering words such as “are you squat latrining here by yourself?” Obviously this could never happen in an individual latrine, it could only happen in the public latrines of public office buildings. And a certain Li from the foreign ministry swore to me that the story was true in those years, that some people were flattering Minister Chen in that way.

You may say: what kind of talk is this? It seems a bit unbecoming, but life did use to be like this.

In recent years, the internet has developed rapidly. Strolling across internet forums regularly, I know clearly there is too much dirty language in them, therefore it is easy to think of them as “public latrines”. With the ironic labeling of these forums as “holes full of shit”, there’s a possibility that “throwing stones in the public latrines will arouse public anger (shit)”. I really don’t disdain forums, on the contrary, I can see the possibility of the “public sphere” being largely expanded from these holes full of shit

People have always had a kind of inexplicable fear and anxiety about public opinion. If you come to the forum, you will be able to feel how the trend towards more space for expression in the internet generation cannot be stopped, and as it grows, there may be a more balanced feeling towards public opinion. Taking the Chinese soccer association as an example, after a lot of shit was thrown upon them, now they are obviously getting used to facing public opinions, even if it is a very intense public opinion. Therefore, “squat latrines” are very useful — by rolling around in this public space a few times, the capacity to compress will improve greatly.

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact [email protected]