Women's Role in China " The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: 'It's a girl.' '-Shirley Ch islom- Women have had changing roles in every society for centuries. Depending on the country, some women have had a harder time achieving equality. One of these countries is China. These women have faced such obstacles as foot binding to concubines. Until the twentieth century women were not considered equals in their society. Many cruel things were done to women in ancient china that are considered unfathomable in other countries.
According to Confucius women weren't equal to men because they were unworthy or incapable of literary education. This was as much as he mentioned women because it was such a natural idea to him that there was no need to mention it, as other early Chinese writers and theorists thought. Women were only considered property and had to obey their brothers and fathers no matter what. Fathers also despised their daughters to the point where instead of being named they were considered daughter number one and daughter number two, etc.
Once the woman was married instead of being property to her brother and father, she was now property to her husband and mother in law, whom also despised the girl. It was also common for a husband to have three or four wives. If a woman's husband were to die she was unable to remarry, sometimes causing women to commit suicide due to no food or income. If a woman were to remarry then her skin was peeled of her bones until she died.
Another cruel act that was practiced in ancient china against women was foot binding. This tradition started around 1000 when an Emperor believed his concubines small feet were beautiful. This process began when a girl was between three and eleven. "Her toes were turned under her feet and pressed against the bottom of her foot.
The arches were then broken as the foot was pulled straight with the leg, a long narrow cotton bandage would then be tightly wound around the foot from the toes to the ankle to hold to toes in place" (W. , Jacob 1). The bandages would then be tightened everyday. This would cause the foot to be around 3 inches long, called lily feet, and sometimes making the toes fall off for lack of blood flow to them.
A girl would be considered unacceptable if her feet were ugly and would not be considered for marriage. The foot binding process also prevented women from wandering, because it was impossible for the woman to walk without assistance and even then it was very painful for her. This is just one of the many horrible things that were done to women. The low status of a woman was even shown only three days after her birth.
At this time, the girl baby was placed under the bed given a piece of broken pottery to play with. This meant that the girl was a second class human, her parents would have preferred a boy, and that her duty was to be humble. The broken pottery showed that she would be a laborer and it was her duty to continue the observance of worship in the home. Not until the twentieth century did things start to turn around for women in china. This is when a woman's movement began to spread and demanded an end to foot binding. Perhaps the biggest factor in women's equality was communism.
Communists believe that women were equal to men and the government started to pass laws in favor of women. One law was The Chinese constitution of the early 1950 s which said that "Chinese women enjoyed equal rights with men in political, economic, social, cultural, and family life. The state protected women's rights and interest, practiced equal pay for work and provided equal opportunity for women's training and promotion (W. , Jacob 2). Another law was The Inheritance Law, which allowed women to inherit family property. The Marriage Law eliminated arranged marriages and said that "both women and men [are] free to choose their marriage partners, and widows [are] allowed to remarry" (W.
Jacob 2). Women were guaranteed fifty six days of maternity leave with full pay by the Labor Insurance Regulations Law of 1951. The Land Reform Law gave rural women and equal share of land under their own name. Some other things that helped equalize women through Mao and communism were that child weddings were banned, the outlaw of concubines and the closing of brothels. Women were also now allowed to hold real jobs and work in factories and go to night school. This is all due to the communist government believing that equalizing women was necessary for complete freedom of China and also so that China could become a world power.
The statistics prove just how drastic the changes in women's lives were. According to Heng 35 million, 40% of agricultural workers are women. 6 million business women are employed in Chinese cities. In large cities, 80-90% of working age women are employed in factories and businesses. Women are now mayors or vice mayors in 250 of the 514 cities in China. In Beijing, 345, 453 women are government officials, 44.
26% of the total. 275, 415 women are technical workers in business enterprises they make up 51% of the total. 200, 000 women are university graduates 33. 3%. Women make up over one-third of workers in the fields of trade, industry, finance, and communication, and almost half of those in education, culture, and health (Heng). These statistics are incredible and accurately depict the dramatic changes in equality.
Is it possible to think that China may one day have a woman president, possibly even before the United States of America? Considering these statistics it seems hard to believe that women still have many obstacles to overcome. Although they have these laws to protect them, not all Chinese view women as equal and still treat them as they used to. Due to China's 1. 3 billion population, the largest in the world, they have initiated a one child policy. Unfortunately this leads the killing of female babies because men want a male child to help them with hard labor. Since it is illegal to kill a newborn baby an abortion is very popular.
There are now hundreds of mobile abortion clinics that have body clamps to hold women down that are doing it "voluntarily" so that they can bring the abortion to the countryside. Due to this the ration in China is 118 males to 100 females because there are half a million female abortions a year. Since there are so few females teenage girls are sold for prostitution and $500 mail order brides since the late 1980 s. This has also made the literacy rate of women fall, more than 70% of school dropouts are girls. Because of these dropouts more than 70% of China's semiliterate or illiterate people are women. In conclusion, the role of women in china has made a drastic change from being concubines to being mayors in major cities.
Equality was something that took a long time to achieve but through all the hard work they have eventually overcome many obstacles but there are still many more that they need to work on. Perhaps women will always be looked down upon because that is how it started and that is the origin of many people's thoughts but achieving the status that they have today is a great success. Although the changes came at a later time than that of the west, equality in China took a shorter amount of time. All in all, Chinese women have had great success in their reforms.