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Role of Women in China - Ancient times and Today

Uploaded by jacobw500 on Apr 12, 2002

The role of women in China has changed dramatically, from one of servitude and repression in ancient China, to one of equality in modern communist China.

For two thousand years in ancient China women lived under the rules set by Confucius in his analects. Confucius doctrine said women weren’t equal to men, because women were unworthy or incapable of a literary education. Other than this Confucius says little about women, which perhaps shows better than anything else how a standing they had in ancient Chinese society. The author of the books that set social standards in China for two thousand years barely mentions them. This was probably because most Confucians accepted the subservience of women to men as so natural that it wasn’t really needed to write it down in the first place (Andrea and Overfield, pg.82-90).

Throughout ancient Chinese women were in a position of servitude from birth till death. They were actually considered a man’s private property (Heng) This was justified because it was said, “disorder is not sent down by heaven, it is produced by women” (womeninworldhistory.com pg.3). Women were subject from birth to their fathers and brothers. They had to obey them without question. Women were often despised by their fathers, so much so that many Chinese women had no name. They were simply called daughter No. 1, Daughter No. 2 and so on.

After women got married conditions remained much the same, only instead of being subject to a father they were subject to their husbands. Like they had to with their brothers and fathers they had to obey their husbands absolutely and without question. Their husbands often had two or three wives. A major change though when a woman got married was that she was also subject to her mother in law, a relationship that was often very nasty (Zhou). When a woman’s husband died she couldn’t remarry, that would be disloyal to her husband. Even if she had no food it was better for a woman to die of hunger than remarry. If a woman did remarry she had her skin peeled of the bones to death. Some women even committed suicide when their husbands died (Wudunn, pg. 1). A woman could rarely hold a job outside the house. They were supposed to spend their time cleaning the home for their husbands, indeed it was said, “the woman with no talent is the one who...

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Uploaded by:   jacobw500

Date:   04/12/2002

Category:   Women's Rights

Length:   7 pages (1,495 words)

Views:   3232

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