Marriage & the Subordination of Women in Late Imperial China: Cause, Effect and Response
Copeland, Sylvia Tameera-Lytina
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Most studies of China have followed the traditional route, beginning from the structure of the traditional Chinese family. Gender studies of Old China usually do not break with tradition. The writers in my study begin their discourse with the traditional Chinese family and the precepts on which it was founded. They make connections between the family structure and the primary basis for women's inferior status. My sources also emphasize traditional Chinese thought and its connection to women's status to varying degrees. Each t.ouch on the influence of Confucian thought on the family structure, as well as the influence of Buddhism and the Yin-Yang philosophy of the universe. Moreover, they analyze the establishment of footbinding and its role in maintaining women's low status, through its ulterior purpose of enforcing a specific code of behavior and prohibiting women from realizing their full potential within their society. Finally, each writer discusses the connection between marriage institutions and the subordination of women. The subjects that they cover include the bride price versus the dowry, family structure within the conjugal family, and women's relationships with various members of the conjugal family.