Women's Changing Status in China

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Women’s
changing status
in China

Women's changing status in China

Introduction

The role of women is China has changed a lot over the years. When we consider the position Chinese women held in ancient society, we find that they have come a long way to be where they are today. In the ancient Chinese culture, the role of women was very restricted. They were raised by their parents until the age of marriage to be given away to another family. When living under their father’s roof he was the one they had to obey to, once married they then had to obey to their husband. Women were restricted to the walls of their home, which is no longer the case nowadays. Traditionally, the family has been the most important unit in society, it is still true today. A traditional Chinese family is consisted of the head of the household, his sons and their wives and children, they usually all live under one roof. In addition to this, they also usually have the same surname, which goes from generation to generation but also from men to men. Women were economically dependent, they also had no income to live on, and they had no right of possession or succession of family goods, not to mention their total absence of the political and social life. The evolution of the status of women was mostly initiated during the republic years; consequently ideas are going to be developed in chronological order and following different topics. First, we are going to introduce the ancient Chinese society and focus on the role of women in that society. What were their roles in society, in family? We will then concentrate on their slow evolution throughout Chinese History and finish with their position today.

Ancient Chinese Society’s women

Women in ancient Chinese culture lived accordingly with rules set by men. They spent their whole life being controlled by men, they had no right to follow their will and most of all they had always been considered inferior to men. This way of life for women lasted for about two thousand years: their life was miserable; they were treated with disrespect and often used as slave. People’s general idea was that women could not have any ambition. According to the husband the woman’s biggest duty was to have a son. Women could only have an “important” and respectful status once she had become a Grandmother and when she continued living after her husband’s death. It was a hard time for women, they were totally dependent from their parents, and then from their husband; they could not take any decision for their life and had to always obey to men. In the Ancient Chinese culture, the people always celebrated the birth of a male more that they did of a girl, and the women would gain more respect if she gave birth to a male. In their everyday life, women did not have names; they were usually called daughter number one, number two. This is again a proof of the social isolation of women in the Ancient China.

Education

From their birth until their death, women knew they would spend their life obeying and serving men. Most of girls did not go to school; according to the general opinion women did not need education. According to Confucius, women were not worth to reach an education and to consult literacy. The only education that was necessary was to know how to behave with a man and be a perfect wife.

Wedding

Marriages were arranged between families by fathers. They also used the help of a matchmaker to evaluate the compatibility between the future bride and groom, traditional Chinese wedding was based on six main rituals. Here are the different steps both families had to go through: 1) Marriage proposal: this step went through the matchmaker who helped the families to calm down all tensions between them, in case they did not know each other. 2) Dates of birth: if the future bride’s parents agree to the marriage proposal, the matchmaker would then compare the dates of birth (of both bride and groom) thanks...
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