Chinese Footbinding

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Chinese Foot Binding

Throughout history women have been subjected to many forms of oppression. Oppression, defined by the academics of (widely considered as a commendable source), is - “the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc.” Foot binding in ancient China is one of the most renowned examples of oppression of women due to the mental and physical boundaries associated with the practice. Foot binding in China was a tool for the political, economic and social oppression of women. By subjecting women to such physical disabilities, men could control and dominate particularly keeping them from participating in political power. Furthermore, a woman who did not bind her feet could not be married, and was therefore economically oppressed. The practice of foot binding did not only physically disable a woman for life, but deprived her of her social status, independence and opportunity. It was often described as a fashion statement, but in reality, was a tool for males to assert their control and power over women.

The practice of foot binding enabled men to politically oppress Chinese women. It is believed the ancient practice of foot binding begun in the Song Dynasty AD 960-1280 (Hutchins, C. 2004), and from this time, the political status and roles of women began to dramatically decrease (Homan, J. 2010). Before foot binding became a cultural tradition, women were actively involved in the education of arts and classics, they had rights to property and wealth and they could legally marry and divorce by choice (Homan, J. 2010). As the trend spread from higher class’ to lower class’, their independence was lost and their status and political influence changed. Historians claim that the practice of foot binding redefined women’s status and rights by suppressing their independence and mobility, which consequently made political succession, or any other form of succession, highly unlikely...
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