Before Confucianism became an integral philosophy for Japan during the Edo period (1602-1868), Japanese women exercised multiple freedoms. Women could own and inherit property, be highly educated, hold a family position in feudal Japan, and become a female samurai. “They were expected to control the household budget and household decisions to allow men to serve their lord.” In fact, Japan was considered mainly as a matriarchal society until Buddhism, Confucianism, and the Samurai ethic influenced the culture. This change came about when the Tokugawa Shogunate came to power and the government embraced Confucianism. The main ideology that was emphasized was the supreme position of male authority and a new hierarchal structure from matriarchal to patriarchal.
With the rise of the shogunate came the samurai class and the confucian belief that women were subservient to men. First, a woman must submit first to her father, her husband, and then her son when widowed. A buddhist belief was that a woman “should look upon her husband as if he were heaven itself.” Buddhism taught men that women were inherently evil and prevented men from following the way of Buddha. In an “excerpt from The Tale of Genji, an 11th century Japanese novel, written by a woman; she said: ‘If they [women] were not fundamentally evil, they would not have been born women at all.’” It was this oppression that stripped wom...
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... the most notable is the Onna Daigaku.
Confucian ethics for women to uphold the five cardinal Confucian virtues of “benevolence, justice, politeness, wisdom, and fidelity,” were taught from the manual, “‘Onna Daigaku’ or ‘Greater Learning for Women.’” The Onna Daigaku also stated with the Buddhist belief that, “Her nature was subject to five evils: willfulness and disobedience; rage and ill will; tendency to slander and abuse others; jealousy, and shallow understanding.” A women was supposed to remain demure, poised, and never allowed to admonish him with anger. Instead, she must wait calmly and gently before speaking to him. Due to these evils, a man possessed the ability to divorce his wife if “she does not obey his father and mother; she is lecherous, jealous, has a nasty disease, is barren, talks too much, or steals,” or punish her should she display the evils.
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