Role of Women in Maoist China and Nazi Germany

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History SL Essay

Analyse the role of women in Maoist China and Nazi Germany.

“Chairman Mao is regarded as a sexist for his dalliances with young women in his old age. But on one day in 1949 Chairman Mao and the CPC did more for the liberation of women than perhaps had ever been done before in history.” This signifies the attitude of Mao towards women who benefited hugely under his policy in China after he had gained power. However, Hitler’s approach how to deal with women is contrary and destructive for society. “His hostility to women was shown by his decision to make them ineligible to jury service because he believed them to be unable to ‘think logically or reason objectively, since they are ruled only by emotion.’" In the following essay, the role of women in Maoist China and Nazi Germany will be analysed and compared.

To analyse the role of women in Maoist China, the status before Chairman Mao came to power must be explained. When Mao was young he was active with groups opposed to the feudal marriage traditions in China. In 1919, he wrote an article about the suicide of a young woman named Miss Chao in which he attacked the oppression of women: “There was no way for her to go on living ... It happened because of the shameful system of arranged marriages, because of the darkness of the social system, the negation of the individual will, and the absence of the freedom to choose one's own mate." This shows his attitude in his youth which set the basis for his change in policy with women after the repressive regime of the Guomindang had been defeated. By 1927, as quoted in the ‘Little Red Book’ of his writings, Mao referred to the oppression of women as feudal patriarchy and condemned it forcefully. This opinion was also set by the Weimar Republic government which tried to stand up for women’s rights much earlier in time than Mao Zedong in China.

Once in power, Mao's comments echoed those of Lenin, made six years earlier for International Women's Day: "Under capitalism, the female half of the human race suffers under a double yoke. The working woman and peasant woman are oppressed by capital; but in addition to that, even in the most democratic of bourgeois republics, they are in an inferior position because the law denies them equality with men.” In 1945, on the verge of revolution, he demanded that "ensure freedom of marriage and equality as between men and women," (from Women in The Little Red Book). In 1955, as President of the Peoples Republic of China, Mao insisted that in order to build a socialist society it is important to arouse the masses of women to join in productive activity. Men and women should receive equal pay for equal work in production. Genuine equality between the sexes could only be realized in the process of the socialist transformation of society as a whole.

There is scarcely a woman one meets in China who does not remember a grandmother or mother with bound feet.  That torture persisted in Chang Kaishek’s China, supported by the U.S., until Liberation of 1949 when China ‘stood up’ as Chairman Mao was put into power. On October 1, 1949, the binding of feet was banned by the government. But in addition to land reform giving the peasants their own land to till which also found its way to China then, the Communist Party of China mandated the end of arranged marriages and the right of women to own property and to own half the property of a married couple.  Women were now full citizens in the New China.

After some years it became widely accepted that women did no longer have to enter into arranged marriages but could marry who they wished. Treatment overall greatly improved as it became more noticed and customary for women to take positions of higher authority at work, in parliament and in land ownership. Even the most ardent “Red China” critics concede that Mao Zedong and his Communist Party made life...
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