Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji, set in the Heian Period, gives a good idea of what the model Heian man and Heian woman should look like. Genji himself is like a physical embodiment of male perfection, while a large portion of the Broom Tree chapter outlines the ideal of a woman—that it is men who decide what constitutes a perfect woman, and the fact that even they cannot come to decide which traits are the best, and whether anyone can realistically possess all of those traits shows that the function of women in the eyes of men of that period was largely to cater to their husbands and households. Broken down, there are similarities and differences between the standard for Heian men and women, and the Tale of Genji provides excellent examples of characters who fit into their respective gender roles.
Joseph Conlans “State of War; The Violent Order of Fourteenth Century Japan” is an depth look at Japans emerging warrior class during a time period of constant warfare in Medieval Japan. His work however doesn’t revolve around the re-fabrication and in-depth analysis of battles sieged like many contemporary examinations of wars and battles won and lost. Instead the author vies to navigate the reader on journey into the warrior class’s lives and how they evolved through a statistical analysis of records. This illustrates how warfare changed and transformed with the constant evolving of the Samurai, but it also includes how their actions affected their Political environment as well as the society in which they dwelled from the bottom up. Through his survey of records and documents, Conlan is able to give readers a compelling look into the Warrior class and at times shatters in the process many of the pre-conceived general notions that one may hold about this ancient class of professional warriors. Many of the notions & common misconceptions debunked in this scholarly piece include the idea that the Samurai was a male only fraternity, reserved for those of impeccable candor and loyalty. When truth be known, woman and young men (boys) were also trained in the art of war and thus were as likely to be found on the battle fields as men when times were tough and solider numbers were depleted. Further, another misconception (Generally thought to be caused by the popular and well known; “The Bushido Code: The Eight Virtues of the Samurai”) of the warrior class is that all of these men were truly Samurai which translated to “one who serves” when really, loyalty for the warrior class as Conlan points out only went as far as ones right to ...
Aside from ancient Greece and China, there has been much diversity and contradictory evidence for women in the Roman Empire. On one hand, the cultural assumption was that women were inferior to men and they should obey their husbands or fathers. While, on the other hand, there is scattered evidence that women were engaged in commerce, heading of the household, and influencing politics. An approach to this second assumption was suggested that their participation by women in all these affairs was not “real.” It may have appeared that they held religious and public offices, but they were unimportant.
Kano, Ayako. Acting Like A Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and Nationalism. New York, Palgrave. 2001
Jansen, Marius B.. "Japan Between the Wars." The making of modern Japan. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002. 495. Print.
Kim, Young-Ching. On Political Thought in Tokugawa Japan. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1961. Print.
The Chinese possessed strong beliefs about astrology, so when it was prophesised that a women ruler would soon ascend the throne word quickly spread throughout the common people. It was predicted that within 30 years this woman known as ‘The Prince of Wu’ would rule over China. Whether or not Empress Wu’s rise to power was due to ‘heaven ordained fate’, she fulfilled the prophecy and became China’s first woman ruler in the 7th century. Historians, scholars and common people alike have long debated Wu’s reign. She is commonly referred to as an evil usurper due to the way she took power. However whether she fully deserves this reputation is to be examined. As the only female Chinese ruler, Wu challenged traditional gender roles and legitimized herself as a leader at a time when women were not meant for such positions. Empress Wu came to power through self-determination and a remarkable gift for politics. Once on the throne, she kept her power by all means necessary, often those means being murder and betrayal. Some of her actions were undoubtedly cruel. However once she was established as an empress conducted a mostly peaceful and prosperous reign. Empress Wu was by definition a usurper of the Chinese throne however not necessarily an evil one. She was manipulative and ruthless yet brilliant and exceptionally gifted. Her rise to power through sheer determination is to be commended despite the harsh tactics she used along the way.
The inception of the Tokugawa Shogunate around 1600 would reduce the impact of foreign relations throughout Japanese society. This bulwark helped resist change and development in Japan, although it continued throughout the western world. Following two hundred years of self imposed seclusion from the rest of the world, the forceful re-entry of the foreigner brought about considerable change in Japan. While managing the foreign threat, there was also an imbalance of power in the current feudal system of the Tokugawa Shogunate. This imbalance created uncertainty for Japan and the imperialistic foreigners. This imbalance and uncertainty would lead to the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the emergence of the Meiji Restoration. However, to understand the transition between the current Shogunate government and the modernization through the Meiji Restoration, it is imperative to realize not only the necessity of modernization but also difficulties modernizing presented. To achieve modernization, Japan would have to abandon or modify various traditional cultural institutions and ideologies which were weakening the Japanese Nation.
Yamamura Kozo. " The Cambridge History Of Japan(East Asia)." Volume III, Chapter IX, Pages 396-446. Copyright Date 1990.
The Tale of Genji is considered the first great novel in the history of world literature. Murasaki Shikibu’s actual name is unknown, however it was common to name women after the office held by a male relative. Her father admired her academic brilliance but wished she were born a man instead because in the Heian society, Chinese learning was only valued for men. Men and women were strictly segregated in Heian Japan. Typically, women were married around ten or eleven, and their role was to bear children. The purpose of marriage was to continue the family line and create alliances with other families. Heian women’s literature thrived in this world of gender asymmetries. As female authors, women voiced how they suffered from their dependence on their husbands.
Thesis: During the Post Classical Era, from 600 - 1450 CE, many of the dynasties throughout Asia, went through changes such as artistic advances, technological advances, and social interaction. Specifically in China, they had golden ages, and also ages of hard times in despair. During this time, China was thriving due to the expansion of arts , literacy, and vivid culture. China had three prominent dynasties such as the Tang , Song, and Ming,. These dynasties continued to prosper throughout the ages. During the time of Japan, Prince Shotoku was a very important figure in the upbringing of Japan by bringing Chinese culture to Japan. Whether the changes were politically, religiously, or culturally, all of these changes were involved in the upbringing or down-breaking of the empires within Japan and China.
Most classical society’s political and social organization revolved around the idea of patriarchy, a male dominated social system. This system exacerbated the inherit difference between men and woman and assigned gender roles based on these observations. Men were generally regarded as superior to woman therefore given greater religious and political roles as well as more legal rights. As the natural inverse, women were subordinated and seen as week; their main roles reproductive and domestic. Information about patriarchy in the classical era, though abundant, was, for the most part, written by men, therefore history does not give us an accurate depiction of women’s viewpoints. Four societies of the classical era, India, China, Greece, and Rome, adopted a patriarchal system, however, due to many factors, each developed identifiable characteristics.
This literary analysis will define the historical differentiation of female gender identity roles that occurred in the Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong and the Tale of Genji. The modern gender values in the Joseon Period define a more elevated freedom for women in patriarchal Korean society that is defined in Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong. In a more progressive gender role for women, Lady Hyegyong exhibits an aggressive male trait in angrily denouncing the execution of her younger brother, which advocates a less submission depiction of women’s rights in early 19th century Korea. In contrast to this aggressive female gender role, Murasaki Shikibu writes a novel through the perspective of Emperor Hikaru Genji and his illicit love affair with his stepmother, Lady Fujitsubo. Lady Fujitsubo is a strong woman, much like the mother of Genji, but she is a concubine with little real power in the court. Historically, the patriarchal culture of 11th century Heian Period in Japan is different from the Joseon Period in that
In order to analyze how gender ideals in the Heian society were formulated and how they were expressed in the Genji Monogatari, it is necessary to have an understanding of the Chinese society from which they were derived. The Chinese works often alluded to in the Genji Monogatari are primarily from the Tang dynasty period of China(618-907AD), which formed the basis of the flourishing of Japanese culture during the Heian period.3 Therefore an analysis of Heian gender ideals must begin from the Tang dynasty court-life culture.