Women in Chinaby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
From the age of foot binding through the communism of today, the role and rights of women have undergone drastic transformation in China. What has been the result of the communist revolution for women?
From the cruelties of foot binding to state coerced family planning, women have been played as pawns of the male dominated Chinese state.
The function of women's literacy and workforce equality has improve the communist state, but not family dynamics. When Chinese women accepted the availability of abortion and state child care as they worked in factories for the betterment of the state, they actually hurt the role of women. Female infanticide produced unbalanced population demographics that favored males. Without enough women, prostitution increased as teenage girls were in high demand. This use of women is not far removed from the earlier centuries of foot binding. Both systems mistreated women for the sake of male dominance.
For centuries before the early 1900's, there was a prominent male domination in the country of China. Women were deprived of all rights and were present mainly to serve men. Women served as slaves, concubines, and prostitutes. Marriages were arranged, sometimes preparing a female from infancy to serve her future husband. This can be seen most effectively by the practice of foot binding. Beginning around the eleventh century, foot binding became a tradition. When a girl became three or four years of age her mother would tightly wrap her daughter's feet in bandages with her toes tucked under the soles. On top of this excruciating pain, the bandages would be tightened each day. If a woman's feet weren't bound she was considered unsuitable for marriage. In fact, it was preferred that the foot be around 3 inches in length.
The gruesome foot binding process as well as the other harsh treatment toward women in China continued for centuries until the demands by the nationalists of the 1920's called for women's rights. Even the missionary Gladys Alward was enlisted to preach that foot binding was against God's design. The Nationalist forces were not able to win against both the invading Japanese and the Communist army. Mao Tse-Tung and the Communist Party formally outlawed many of the old Chinese laws and traditions that they viewed as not benefiting the state. The practice of foot binding had become almost obsolete by the time he took power 1949. He believed that by forcing gender equality he could make China a world power. Although he persecuted Christians and mandated policies that lead to millions of deaths, he did lift shift the oppression of Chinese women from producing for the home to the producing for the state. Husbands were not allowed to abusing their wives, have concubines, or use prostitutes. Marriages could no longer be arranged, wives with unbound feet were encouraged, and divorce was made easier to obtain. Both sexes were forced to wear the same gender neutral padded clothing. These changes initially gave females an increasing sense of self-confidence as they were encouraged to join the work force, become a communist official, and pursue educational opportunities. This indeed was in stark contrast to centuries of being less than second class citizens. Women willingly followed Mao in 1958 with his provision of daycare and soup kitchens to push the patriotic "iron woman" into longer work hours for the benefit of the nation. Unfortunately, this national brainwashing of the "Great Leap Forward" led to the starvation of millions.
What have been the longer term results of dictator enforced equity? Do women today walk the streets of China with pride as they go to work in a variety of places? By law, women have equality in education, marriage, rights, and freedom. However, while there have been many improvements to women's roles in China, there are still some laws that have been ignored. The most insidious violation regards infanticide of female babies. Although killing a newborn child is illegal, killing the child before birth is promoted. Since 1997, hundreds of "mobile abortion clinics", complete with body clamps to hold down Women doing something "voluntarily", have been made to take abortion to the remote countryside.
With the availability of ultrasound and enforcement of the one child policy, China has an unnatural ratio of about 118 males to 100 females due to a half a million sex-specific abortions every year. The reasoning follows since males still have the greatest earning power in the workforce. With these earnings, and a decrease in available females, the abduction and sale of teenage girls is on the rise. Human Rights groups estimate hundreds of thousands of girls have been sold into prostitution and $500 mail-order brides since the economic boom of the late 1980s.
In 1989 a 23 year old woman named Chai Ling Coo was a main leader of the protest in China's Tiananmen Square, which ended with the massacre of hundreds of demonstrators by army troops and riot police. She continued to speak out for liberation while living in the United States during the 1990's. Women may someday enter the upper leadership in modern China.
From the cruelties of foot binding to state coerced family planning, women have been played as pawns of the male dominated state. The function of women's literacy and workforce equality has been to improve communist state. It is for the reader to decide if these dramatic changes are cause for the Chinese woman to hold her head with pride in what her nation has done for her status.
1. At what age did mothers begin binding their daughter's feet?
A. 6 months-1 yr
B. 3-4 yrs
C. 13-14 yrs
D. at betrothal
2. One of the laws that has been "looked over" by the Communist Party
A. foot binding
3. Why are there more males than females in China?
A. it often brought them wealthier husbands
B. it allowed them better jobs
C. education did not exist at this time
D. helped Mao Tse-Tung decide which females would be best as part of the Communist Party
4. All of the following were changes made by Mao Tse-Tung and the Communist Party except:
A. outlawing abuse of women by husbands
B. outlawing of prostitution
C. outlawing Christianity
D. outlawing of arranged marriages
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