Women In 18th Century China Research Paper

Length: 8 pages Sources: 7 Subject: Sports - Women Type: Research Paper Paper: #86377730 Related Topics: Women Studies, Role Of Women In Society, Arranged Marriage, 19th Century
Excerpt from Research Paper :

(Boardman 100-101)

There is a clear sense that men and male children in particular were considered precious, and in many ways comparatively much more precious than women and girl children but this is in part because of women as the position of wife was subservient to the position of mother in law. The assurance that one day the wife would hold the household power of the mother in-law was only offered by a male child as female children when married left home for good and served their marriage family in direct orders of their new mother in-law. This is true of most classes but again was stricter in terms of the upper-class. (Mann 61) in other words if a female child is born she is expected in her lifetime to only contribute to her birth family for her childhood, and adolescence after this time the industry of her labour would benefit her marriage family, excluding the monies and goods obtained by the birth family from her marriage.

Along these lines the tradition of studying lamentations, a highly ritual and rare public expression by women during the period preceding her marriage and permanent residence in her marriage home, is paramount. In many cases in all classes and across regions the marriage ceremony is tied up in contradictions of feeling, as a daughter must successfully transition herself (with the help of her birth family and others) from a daughter to a dutiful wife. In doing so she has conflicting feelings of sorrow, for leaving her birth home and family as well as even possible joy and excitement, at transitioning into a new and exciting life with her husband's family. It is also postulated that even in arranged marriages most women have some choice with regard to their marriage partner and family, as most cultures have a tradition of many formal meetings with the new family. Lamentation are seen as a traditional allowance of the bride to express her feelings to the point of resolution. For example here is an insider's view of this very public display offered exclusively by women and to her whole community. McLaren & Qinjian quote an elderly Chinese woman who expressed the ideal of lamentations, which from an outside perspective express only grief and subjugation or assumed subjugation of women.

"…one laments to the point where the noxious influences are expelled. It is considered unlucky to go happily to the groom's home. Everyone must be very sombre, no one is allowed to laugh or smoke. If lamentations are powerful and effective they can get rid of the "hungry ghosts," the souls of those who die with a grievance and who in turn prey on the living. The bride must continue lamenting until the point where her married home is in sight. Here she must stop lamenting or else the noxious influences, pushed thus far along the route, will poison her new home.'?" The expression of grievance is arguably more communal than individual, more ritual than personal; nonetheless, the repertoire is sufficiently flexible to allow a woman various choices, depending on her own situation. (McLaren & Qinjian 210)

The development of lamentation studies began with the assumption, in the western view that the...


Yet, in truth the expression was not unlike many cultural traditions where say the evil eye is warded off by women spitting on a particularly comely child. The sentiment being that if the evil of the outside world is made aware that the child is beautiful then it will do it harm out of jealousy over its beauty. (Ruben 5) the analogy holds that the bride is venting to the world that her future marriage is one of hardship and toil and therefore she is protecting her future home and marriage from jealousy and therefore reproach or harm from outside forces. There is no sense that the bride really believed that she was entering into a fearful state of being, but simply that she was transitioning into a new phase of her life that needed to be protected. Though it is clear that she would obviously have conflicting feelings they are no more or less conflicting than they would be for any individual leaving the home of his or her parents and siblings and entering into the home of another family.


This essay does not claim that women and men were equals in 18th century China but it does challenge the idea that women were, across classes where wholly subservient to men and culture. There is no real question that the Chinese culture of the 18th century was very traditional and very patriarchal, yet it is faulty to assume that seeing the culture through western eyes alone or through biased observation will give anyone a sense of the real state of gender in the nation. It is also important to note that many other cultures, including the Western culture have examples of similar traditions of devaluing women and their contribution to society, as well as restricting their place in the public realm. Though this does not eliminate the real situation of women as underprivileged it does a great deal to stress the complexities of culture and the need to address culture with a clear view, rather than one the is prejudice and assumptive.

Works Citied

Boardman, Kay. "A material girl in a material world': the fashionable female body in Victorian women's magazines." Journal of Victorian Culture 3.1 (1998): 93. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 23 Feb. 2011.

Davin, Delia. Woman-Work: Woman and the Party in Revolutionary China. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Mann, Susan. Precious Records: Women in China's Long Eighteenth Century. Stanford University Press. 1997.

McLaren, Anne & Chen Qinjian. The Oral and Ritual Culture of Chinese Women: Bridal Lamentations of Nanhui Asian Folklore Studies, 59, (2) (2000), pp. 205-238.

Rubin, Norman a. "The Evil Eye." World & I 25.11 (2010): 5. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 23 Feb. 2011.

Tamney, Joseph B. And Chiang Hsueh-Ling. Modernization, Globalization, and Confucian in Chinese Societies. Westpot, CT: Praeger Publisher, 2002.

Wasserlein, Frances. "Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on the History of Women's Work in British…

Sources Used in Documents:

Tamney, Joseph B. And Chiang Hsueh-Ling. Modernization, Globalization, and Confucian in Chinese Societies. Westpot, CT: Praeger Publisher, 2002.

Wasserlein, Frances. "Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on the History of Women's Work in British Columbia." Labour / Le Travail 17.(1986): 280-281. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 23 Feb. 2011.

Yao, Esther S. Lee. Chinese Women: Past & Present. Mesquite, TX: Ide House, 1993.

Cite this Document:

"Women In 18th Century China" (2011, February 23) Retrieved June 25, 2022, from

"Women In 18th Century China" 23 February 2011. Web.25 June. 2022. <

"Women In 18th Century China", 23 February 2011, Accessed.25 June. 2022,

Related Documents
18th C. Decorative Botanical Art
Words: 3104 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Animals Paper #: 77815266

In Jamaica, like many other physicians abroad, Sloane collected specimen; later, he acquired the collections of others. Among the botanical material in his collection were exotic plants and bird skins, "unique albums of Durer's prints and drawings" "a vast library of manuscripts and printed books" (Geographical 2003 26+,the second two items of which probably contained abundant botanical engravings. Not all of the items Sloane collected survived. One that id, however, was

China's Modern Society During the
Words: 1659 Length: 5 Pages Topic: History - Asian Paper #: 95759978

("Chinese History.") The Second Opium War would involve: the contention that the Chinese and the British would have for each other. As the British wanted greater controls of the ports and land routes. Yet, the Chinese felt that the treaty to end the First Opium War was excessive. This resulted, in open hostilities, as the British merchants were seeking exclusive rights to: Chinese markets, the free flow of merchants /

Book Trade Between China and France An Assessment
Words: 4613 Length: 20 Pages Topic: Literature Paper #: 76277952

The Nature of the Book Trade between China and France Introduction In the past, it was apparent that the Chinese government’s approach to matters culture and art did not significantly differ from its stance on a variety of other factors that involved various internal affairs of the nation. However, while it may have exercised some control on the distribution aspect of culture and art, it has largely remained ineffective as far as

Vietnamese History Throughout the Centuries
Words: 2454 Length: 10 Pages Topic: History - Asian Paper #: 29711064

Ly, Tran, and Ho Epochs The Dai Viet Kingdom had its origin in the middle of the 10th century until around the middle of the 11th century, when local chiefs were able to vie for control in what is now Land of Viet However, regionalism is the pattern. As the Northern Tang dynasty crumbled, it lost control over South (which are now parts of Northern Vietnam) The weakening of Northern Tang gradually led

Cross Cultural Impact of China on Vietnam Today
Words: 2893 Length: 10 Pages Topic: China Paper #: 50709393

Vietnam and China: Acculturation's Apparitions And Certain Realities Behind Them" The Vietnamese people have a lengthy history that dates back at least two millennia. The ancestors of modern Vietnamese people lived in the Red River delta of northern Vietnam and were subsequently conquered by the Chinese, becoming part of the early Chinese empire. By the first century CE, Vietnam succeeded in becoming a suzerainty of the Chinese empire and it remained

Human Trafficking in October of
Words: 2990 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Sports - Women Paper #: 48121170

Moon stated that since the Crawfords entered her life, "I have realized that I have value and worth. And now that I know God, I can always pray for his help whenever I have a problem." The Crawfords are among a growing number of Christians worldwide working to live out the love of Jesus by reaching out to sexually exploited people. The Crawfords decided to move to Thailand after