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Woman’s Status and its Influence on Spousal Relationship in China

2019-06-03 来源: 51due教员组 类别: Essay范文

下面为大家整理一篇优秀的essay代写范文- Womans Status and its Influence on Spousal Relationship in China,供大家参考学习,这篇论文讨论了中国女性的地位及其对夫妻关系的影响。在很长一段时间里,中国女性被视为男性的下级,受到儒家诸如孝道和贞操等规定的限制,这导致她们在夫妻关系中的地位较低。理想的夫妻关系还将女性置于照顾老人和孩子的角色,这不仅包括简单的夫妻关系,还包括与大家庭的关系。包办婚姻也导致了女性受到的待遇比男性少。女性地位是影响中国夫妻关系的一个主要因素。随着历史上女性社会地位的提高,中国的夫妻关系也随之发展成为一种更加健康的关系。

Spousal Relationship,中国女性地位,essay代写,作业代写,代写

1. Introduction

Spousal relationship is a great component of Chinese culture throughout history and it is a distinctive relationship compared to that in the western societies. One of the features that distinguishes a Chinese spousal relationship from a western one is how women are treated in the relationship. Moreover, the spousal relationship in China is largely based on the status of women in marriage. To elaborate, in the traditional Chinese society, the constraints for women’s behaviors were fundamental for the ideal spousal relationship. On contrast, women’s social status has improved, meaning women become equals to men in marriage as stated in Marriage Law of PRC, thus the spousal relationship has also changed accordingly. In this essay, I will discuss the spousal relationship in the Chinese culture from the perspective of woman’s status, which is the defining factor of said relationship.

2. Confucian Constraints for Women

Confucianism made great contributions to restricting women’s behaviors in the Chinese history and it became fundamental for women’s status in a spousal relationship. This philosophy emphasis on a concept of filial piety in its classic The Book of Filial Piety, which includes advice and regulations for one’s behaviors in front of honourable figures, such as seniors and governing officials. This book was originally applied to a wide range of audience, including both male and female genders. However, a derivation of this book was composed later, around 730 AD, specifically designated for women, entitled The Book of Filial Piety for Women. In this book, females were “told to cultivate Confucian virtues like filial piety, faithfulness, loyalty, diligence, trustworthiness, and sincerity, and warned against such evils as scheming, selfishness, and sensual indulgence.” (Ebrey, 2001) These gender-specific rules suggest that women were required to exceed exceptions for men simply because of their gender, and in addition to that, they need to treat their husbands as superiors as that is what the concept of filial piety entails. In the book, there are more detailed requirements for a wife some of which may sound unreasonable; for example, a woman should agree with what her husband says regardless if he is correct on the subject. This revels that women were not allowed to have opinions and once again, were considered as inferiors to men in a marriage.

Chastity is another important aspect of Confucianism in spousal relationship in terms of women’s status. It is similar to many characteristics of filial piety but it is more strict and voluntary than that. It is considered a virtue also exclusive to women. It suggests that women not only were not supposed to be engaged in sexual activities before marriage, but also should be loyalty to their husbands even after the husbands had died. This chastity cult is linked with neo-Confucianism, starting from the Song dynasty (1127-1279). The statement of “to starve to death is a small matter, but to lose one’s chastity is a great matter” was made by Chen Yi (Ebrey, 2003), declaring that a woman’s virtue is much more important than her life. Later in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, the widows, who had followed the Confucian philosophy since they were girls, would starve themselves to death instead of remarry (Ebrey, 2009). This action is greatly encouraged by the society, including their families, whose reaction was to display “banners or arches proclaiming their virtue” (Ebrey, 2009). This cult of chastity suicide has continued for hundreds of years hereafter; even after May Fourth Movement, suicides of women to preserve chastity were still romanticised in literature by Lu Xun and Mao Zedong, among other writers (Ropp, 2001). This chastity cult is deeply engraved in people’s mind including women’s. They also profoundly believed that their lives did not weigh more than their chastity, labelling themselves as objects rather than human beings.

3. The Ideal Spousal Relationship

Women’s inferior status is also revealed in the ideal of a spousal relationship in the Chinese history. In the traditional Chinese society, an ideal spousal relationship depends greatly on how the wife behaves. This is revealed in personal letters between husbands and wives from the seventeenth century. In these letters, the husband was away and he reminded the wife to take care of his parents, their children, which is not unusual even in a modern context. Furthermore, he further asked her not to “make our parents complain that you are unfilial” or “our children suffer for lack of instruction.” (Lowry, 2001) The wife is positioned as a caretaker of the elderly and children, and that is extremely important in making marital relationship a functional one. In the wife’s response to the letter, she repeated what her husband asked her to do, agreeing that she would serve them well when he was not here. Similarly, women in this period voluntarily play the role of an ideal wife, whose character is based on an unequal gender situation.

The ideal spousal relationship is also based on utilitarianism in the Chinese culture and this led to the result that the basis of a marriage is having a child and continue the family line instead of love. Conjugal relations have not been the focus among all relations in China. In Confucian philosophy, it is listed as the fourth important in five relations in total, which are respectively ruler-minister, father-son, elder brother-younger brother, husband-wife, and friend-friend (Pimentel, 2000). In addition, men therefore is regarded as a link to the ancestor and the descendants. This further resulted in the gender preference when a family was expecting a baby, as they would believe that having a boy is protecting the family line and a girl would eventually married into another family, which made her an outsider. Marriages were also commonly arranged by parents with the help from intermediates. The wife was selected by them using criteria listed earlier in this essay, such as her virtue, trustworthiness, etc. The marriage is arranged for the benefits of the entire family. To be specific, the parents were most concerned about if the wife would serve the elderly well and if she had the ability to bear enough babies. Again, women were considered as caretakers in the family, with an additional role of a birthing instrument. Not only they were valued less than males from birth, they were also put into the position of furthering the family line by providing babies.

Western Chamber, a play written in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) by Wang Shifu, provides a female character who is unafraid to pursue true love in a traditional Chinese context. The story involves Cui, the female protagonist, falling in love with Zhang, a young scholar. Their love was not approved by Cui’s parents, and they were punished because they were contacting each other without the parents knowing. Cui’s mother offered Zhang a condition for them to get married, which is for Zhang to succeed in the exam of the central governing official. The story ends in a happy ending with the two lovers getting married. However, the story was considered immoral at the time, and later was forbidden to circulate. This reveals that the liberation of the female gender is not widely accepted at the time, and the idea of marriage based on love was also most uncommon. Although the story implies that there is a realisation of gender equality and marital relationships with love, it was still not widespread and even forbidden for a long time.

4. Spousal Relationship in the Modern Society

In the modern context, women’s status in a spousal relationship has not improved until the execution of Marriage Law of PRC in 1950. As mentioned earlier, May Fourth Movement did not change how the society viewed woman or how women evaluated themselves—an object subordinated to chastity. The chastity cult still exists in both society and literature. In 1950, Marriage Law of PRC legally states that the two parties in a marriage are equal. However, this cannot guarantee actual gender equality or marriage quality in spousal relationships. It cannot eliminate the discrimination in one single step but given time and patience, it is not an impossible mission.

Research is carried out on how the marriage quality is in urban China compared to western standards. The results of Pimentel (2000) suggest that there are many aspects of different of Chinese spousal relationships from western ones. The interaction between spouses outside the family is considered important by western standards, but not in the Chinese perception. Although in modern society, people are free to choose their spouses, Chinese people reacted that they did not date often compared to the western culture. The reason behind these is the culture that nurtured China, including Confucianism. In addition, the research also shows that even though the two parties in a marriage is stated to be equal in legal documents, the gender difference still lies between the husband and the wife. Therefore, it is not likely that this gender difference will disappear in a very short of time but as people are getting happier in their spousal relationships, it is reasonable to expect this will lead to equality.

5. Conclusion

In this essay, I investigated the status of females in spousal relationships through the Chinese history. For a long time, they were treated as inferiors to males, restricted by Confucian regulations such as filial piety and chastity. This has resulted in their lower status in a spousal relationship. The ideal of spousal relationships also put women into the position of caretakers who are supposed to serve the elderly and the children, which involves more than a simple husband-wife relationship but also a relationship with a larger family. Arranged marriages have also contributed to the fact that women were treated less than males. In the modern society, women were legally pronounced as equals to men in marriage in 1950.

In conclusion, women’s status is a major factor influencing Chinese spousal relationships. As the social status of woman improves in history, the spousal relationship in China has developed into a more heathy one consequently.

Reference:

Diamant, N. J. (2000). Re-examining the impact of the 1950 Marriage Law: State improvisation, local initiative and rural family change. The China Quarterly, 161, 171-198.

Ebrey, P. B. (2001). The Book of Filial Piety for Women Attributed to a Woman Née Zheng (ca. 730). Under Confucian Eyes: Writings on Gender in Chinese History, 47-69.

— (2003). Women and the family in Chinese history. Routledge.

— (2009). “Widows Loyal unto Death”. From Chinese civilization: A sourcebook. Simon and Schuster.

Lowry, K. (2001). Personal letters in seventeenth-century epistolary guides. Under Confucian Eyes: Writings on Gender in Chinese History, 155-67.

“Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China, The” (1980). Pacific Affairs, vol.57, no.2 (Summer, 1984). 266-269.

Pimentel, E. E. (2000). Just how do I love thee?: Marital relations in urban China. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(1), 32-47.

Ropp, P. S. (2001). Passionate women: Female suicide in late Imperial China-Introduction. Nan nü, 3(1), 3-21.

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