Editor’s note: This story was written by a high school student in Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s Summer Youth Leadership Program. This story is part of a special back-to-school issue.
By Liane Lo
There are two very popular Chinese sayings: “The great virtue of a woman is to have no talent” and “It is more beneficial to raise geese than daughters.” These expose the low regard of Chinese women in traditional Chinese society.
The women in ancient Chinese culture lived according to Confucius’ analects and the male-driven, patriarchal society. According to Confucius, women were not equal to men and were not worthy of being granted an education within the community. For almost 2,000 years, the life of the Chinese woman was unbearable and intolerable.
In exploring the position of women in traditional Chinese culture, many focus on the hardships and limitations faced by women, from abuse in childhood to servitude in adulthood. In traditional Chinese culture, there are practices of foot-binding, female infanticide, and selling daughters as slaves.
Though they were expected to be subservient to men and have no legal rights in society, there was a bright side. There were Chinese women who wielded great power and influence throughout the next 1,000 years.
In the old Chinese traditional community, women were expected to make several sacrifices in order to adhere to cultural notions of feminine respectability. While there is still some remaining discrimination, modern Chinese women have been treated more equally and fairly than in previous centuries.
Modern Chinese men now treat Chinese women with respect. Opposing Confucius’ analects, Chinese women are now entitled to more occupational, political, economical, and educational opportunities.
As stated at the National People’s Congress, equality between men and women is part of China’s basic state policy, and is seen as essential to healthy social development and expansion. Several policy measures and law enforcement actions are being carried out to address the troubles and difficulties confronting gender issues and gender equality in China.
I am convinced that as the economy grows stronger in the United States and China and urbanization spreads more rapidly, the conditions for women and gender equality will get better and improve with each passing day. ♦