The Yue Opera is a popular theatrical form that is performed by female actresses and for a female audience. The opera became well known in Shanghai during the late 1930s and 1940s and its influence spread throughout China. The progression of the Yue Opera is shaped by traditional forms of Chinese operas. One of the most important aspects and differences of the Yue Opera is the entrance of women into the opera market, audiences and actresses. This unique development from all-male to an all-female cast has revolutionized the traditional Chinese Opera since it drawn public attention and questions about women’s culture and gender identity in Shanghai during the Republican Period in1913. This paper studies the impact of the Yue Opera’s plays on women’s status in China. Women in China have suffered due to gender inequality, low status and the philosophical system of Confucianism. These three subjects are the most important issues in the Yue Opera since they are a way to attract and reflect women’s concerns about their personal freedom, education and status in society. The Yue Opera allows the female audience to change and fight for their rights.
For centuries, China has gone through major changes in the reform of women’s culture and movement. In the traditional Chinese society, males were the dominant actor in the family where sons are preferred to daughters and women are expected to be subordinate to fathers, husbands, and sons. Women were taught to be restrained and were expected to be faithful and modest. The concept of feminism was defined as “a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Behavior traits that are considered feminine include gentleness, empathy and sensitivity” (Class note). These characteristics of feminine are well portrayed and demonstrated in the Chinese society. In the article “Woman as Other,” Beauvoir studies the relationship between the role of a woman and a man. Beauvoir describes that “man is the subject” while “woman is the object” since women are always depending on men and they are often treated as slaves. Men are more superior in the Chinese society since they are more valued and respected by parents and society. Historically, the Chinese women had no power and no legal rights in society since they were held in a lower position than men and Confucianist thought has greatly influenced women. Discrimination in education and employment has a huge impact on women since it leads them to rebel for their freedom. During the 20th Century, the women’s movement had a huge impact in changing women’s status in China because it led to uprisings and reforms of Chinese women.
Confucianism has played an essential role in the Chinese culture since the value of Confucianism was taught in school, tested in the imperial civil service examinations and used to shape social relationships and moral thought (Li, I). Confucius emphasizes and examines the complex system of moral and social thoughts, educational system and religious belief in the ancient Chinese tradition. The goal of Confucianism is to stress the importance of education, moral development and the behavior of the individual. Confucianist thoughts have a great influenced in women and it discriminated against women because women are placed at the bottom of the Confucian hierarchy. According to filial piety, Confucianism stipulated that women must obey her father before marriage, her husband after marriage, and her son after her husband dies. These three rules of obedience helped to maintain the patriarchal order for women in the Chinese culture. However, the role of conduct was directed towards men since parents paid all the respect to their son whereas a woman must not only be devoted to her parents but also to her husband, parents in law, sons, and husband’s relative. Women do not have the freedom and the potential to defend their rights and their own goals since Chinese’s society had been influenced by the...
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