A vintage picture of a young Chinese girl, courtesy of Peter Shay
  • A vintage picture of a young Chinese girl, courtesy of Peter Shay

In China, daughters are traditionally considered "spilled water" — when she's married off she has no value to her family, totally worthless. That's the basis of its gender-bias culture that has far-reaching effects on its women and girls, even today. I wonder how many cultures still consider their daughters that way — worthless. The metaphor can be different but the connotation is the same.

I have thought about this issues long and hard, and have re-branded my documentary film "Rise of the Phoenix" to "Spilled Water" — women redefining their worth. I also like the idea of water being soft, the yin to the yan. The Taoism wisdom says it well, "Water is the source of life. Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving rock nothing can surpass it. The soft overcomes the hard; gentleness overcomes the rigid."

I am very sympathetic to women living in countries with the baggage of sexist cultures that rendered them helpless. The weigh of traditions can be suffocating. But we do have the power to make choices and change our destiny. To empower women is to change their mindset about traditions. Mothers must stop aborting girl fetus because they prefer boys, they must allow daughters to be educated, they must stop viewing them as dowry barter chips. Mothers are their daughters' first teachers, mentors and role models. Women must assess their own worth before they can assert their rights to transform their world. Maybe its time to push back rather than lean in for some of us.

So ladies, can you imagine wearing a T-shirt that says "I am not SPILLED WATER? to show our solidarity" For more information of my film please visit http://spilledwaterdoc.com/

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Girls Transform the World 2013.


This looks wonderful! I've never heard this expression of girls as "spilled water." I love how you are flipping this idea on it's head! Thanks for sharing more info about your documentary

Hi Kim, So glad to encounter you here. Took me almost 4 years to make this doc, and we're in post-production now. I started from one perspective and ended at another — that we have the power to make choices for change. Indeed we're not "spilled water."

Thanks again for reaching out.


I found this truly inspiring and reassuring!

I want share it with a group of young women i work with in rural Lagos, Nigeria. I hope you wont also mind my sharing your documentary with them too.

Thank you for this and keep doing it!

In Solidarity,


"Working towards a just and equitable world for all women, without recourse to status."

Hello Vweta, I'm truly humbled and flattered by your kind words. We know gender issues transcend boundaries and race and we all feel the pain and the pride. Nothing is more gratifying to a filmmaker than to use her/his film to touch people's lives.

Please share the trailer on my website with your friends, and you can see the progress of the film on my FB page. https://www.facebook.com/riseofthephoenixfilm?ref=hl

I'm hoping to finish this film in the fall of 2013. I'd love to share my documentary with you when it's done.

All best, May http://riseofphoenixdoc.com/

Thank you so much for sharing this trailer with me. I'd be honoured to share with my friends too!

I have liked your face book page, that way I'd be updated on your progress with your documentary. I wish you speed and more inspiration as you continue on this noble path!

Much Love,

In Solidarity,


"Working towards a just and equitable world for all women, without recourse to status."

I love that you're taking something so negative and turning it into a powerful force--spilled water. Though I don't come from a culture that devalues women in the way you describe, I came from a family that did and have learned through the years that I am worthy and empowered. I love that you're helping others from cultures that don't value females that these women are beautiful and valued!

Dear ladies, Am very grateful for your kind and encouraging words. There's a lot of talk about "girl power" and "women transforming the world" ... lets start with ourselves.

Will keep you posted. May