Conner Lewis, World History 4 12/1/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Women in China
Women's Strange Relationship in China
As many religions do, Taoism and Buddhism both had many positions for female members, consisting of nunneries, theological discussions and debates, and leading temples and convents. These faiths were all practiced widely in China, and this gave women the ability to lead more independent and self sufficient lives, which was not considered the "norm" at the time. It also allowed for women to gain education in the areas of theology, and also taught women how to become literate. Taoism also believed that women were equal to men, as the yin is to yang, opposite and both essential. This even further enforced a woman's equality. This initial openness slowly empowered women to the point that women received a very open position in the world, at least in most dynasties. This is because as women became educated, they taught their children, and raised the expectations for their own daughters. Many women went on to become poets, historians, and artists. Some even became administrators, and took other positions in the government. Confucianism, which is a philosophy based around order and relationships, describes women as subordinates to their husbands in marriages, and that they should remain with the natural order by staying within their house. This belief was only exemplified by many people's assumption that women and men should perform different tasks and have different expectations. Over time all these beliefs developed into the belief that woman belong as subordinates to their husbands, and should do "women's work", such as weaving and housekeeping. This, like the education of woman, changed the standards, and degraded women's power in China. NeoConfucianism, which is a philosophy that comes as a mixture of old Confucian ideals and new cultural beliefs at the time, had even stricter laws prohibiting and monitoring women's social status. NeoConfucianism was a mixture of old Confucian ideals and the newly introduced Mongolian culture and ideology. The Mongols had strict rules for women, and many practices carried over to this new philosophy. The practices enforced on women were that of footbinding, limiting movement and harming a women's foot, chastity for widows, and the selling of unwanted daughters. These all harmed women's social status immensely, as the chastity meant widows were forced to not have any more children, whether they wanted to or not, and the selling of daughters further enforced the belief of a man's power over woman in the family.