Chusheng emphasizes that Wei Ming’s tribulations originate in the residue of institutional Confucianism. The China depicted in New Woman features a progressive veneer, replete with bustling urban centers and a glamorous elite, but a Confucian social structure underlies this cosmetic modernity. In New Woman, the most pervasive aspect of this structure is its rigid gender hierarchy. Confucianism, as a religious philosophy and cultural tradition, relies on a system of familial and communal obligations; this system mandates the subservience of the female gender, requiring women to obey, in turn, their fathers, husbands...
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...ng lays dying in a hospital bed after her suicide attempt, he prints an article attacking her character.
Wei Ming’s death is Chusheng’s most strident assault on China’s Confucian gender hierarchy. A society that compels one of its members to choose between slave-like subservience and death is eminently unjust, and Wei Ming depicts 1930s China as such a society. Chusheng depicts every injustice inflicted upon Wei Ming as either absurdly misogynistic or sexually depraved, portraying these as the logical results of a Confucian system that mandates women’s lifelong subservience to men. While New Woman suggests no solutions or specific reforms that might provide redress for this social ill, it makes one thing very clear: Women deserve the respect and autonomy accorded to their male counterparts, and a social structure that rejects this truth must not go unchallenged.
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