Women in China

Satisfactory Essays
Women in China

Traditionally, the family has been the most important unit of Chinese society, and holds true till today. Over the last couple of years or so, new definitions of women's roles have been formed as many Chinese women have received higher education, have joined the work force, begun to compete with men, and become financially independent.

Confucianism and the Communist movement greatly influenced the role of women and the family structure in China. Classical literature played an essential part in defining family and the Classical women. The Book of Changes illustrates the role of women and family through history. This book emphasized on a perfect society in which each person would wholeheartedly accept the parts assigned to them, devoting themselves to their responsibilities to others. Other literature glorifies and defines the ideal women, by stressing the main theme of submission. Throughout life, women were to follow the Three Submissions, which are as follows: observing filial piety in childhood, submitting to ones husband in marriage, and obeying ones son in widowhood.

With such notable exceptions as the old empress-dowager, women in traditional China were largely deprived of a public role, and certainly of a political one. The position of women in traditional China was based upon two considerations.

First, there was the masculine prejudice, which was common to most societies, which insists that a women's place is in the home and their contribution in is all respects secondary to that of the male. The second factor comes from the structure of a society, which depends so much upon family and clan. In traditional China, a woman married away from home and took up residence in her husband's house, normally under the eye of her parents-in-law. The function of marriage was basically to maintain the male lineage upon which the future depended, and a woman's status depended very considerably upon the sons she produced. Should she fail this duty, a principal wife could find herself supplemented by a concubine, in which there was no reason why the husband should decline the younger favorite.

In contrast, the definition of women's roles and family changed dramatically during the Communist Movement. The idea of communism was that of collectivism and equality. In this movement, religion was thought to be a numbing agent that only caused false hope; therefore many old rituals and Confucian ideas were somewhat dismissed and women became equal. The object of the movement was to promote women's participation in all aspects of social life.
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