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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Women’s virtue lies in their independence
    2017-December-18  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Wu Guangqiang

jw368@163.com

CHINA’s earth-shaking changes are partly reflected in the change of women’s social status. No women anywhere else in the world have enjoyed greater progress in economic and social status as have Chinese women. As late Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s famous quote that “Women hold up half the sky” goes, Chinese women are performing neck and neck with men in social and domestic arenas.

Pre-modern Chinese society was predominantly patriarchal and patrilineal from at least the 11th century B.C. onwards. The status of women was, like that of men, closely tied to the Chinese kinship system. Because of the nature of an agricultural society, males were regarded as valuable laborers while females a burden on the family. As a result, there has long been a preference for sons, leading to high rates of female infanticide, as well as a strong tradition of restricting the freedom of movement of women, manifested through the practice of foot binding.

Overall, women were inferior to men in every aspect of life and they existed just as a men’s accessory. Men were entitled to marry a second, a third, or even more wives, and had the right to repudiate their wives, while women had no freedom of deciding their own marriage, not to mention to safeguard their own rights. They had to marry whomever their parents arranged for them.

To justify and consolidate the feudal system, ancient rulers and their kept scholars designed a set of “ethical norms” to maintain social and family order. One of the must-dos they required women to observe was the so-called “Three Obediences and Four Virtues.” The former refers to women’s obedience to their father before marriage, and her husband during married life and her sons in widowhood, and the latter to fidelity, physical charm, propriety in speech and efficiency in needle work, all of which can be generalized as female submission and endurance. In essence this is prejudice against women wrapped in “virtues.”

It was not until the founding of the PRC that Chinese women truly won independence, economically and socially.

The Chinese Government has taken various measures to encourage women to take part in every field of social affairs.

Today, Chinese women have equal access to politics, education, employment, science and technology, military, culture and art, and all other aspects of social life.

Females in families enjoy equal status with males, and so do wives with husbands. In fact, in many Chinese families, wives are calling the shots and hen-pecked husbands are not rare at all.

But some people dislike all this. In the town of Fushun, Liaoning Province, classes on “women’s virtue” had been ongoing since 2011.

Run by the Fushun Traditional Cultural Research Association, the courses instructed women to “talk less,” remain at the “bottom level” and cook instead of ordering food, which prompted outrage on social media.

The women taking the courses were ordered to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and do domestic chores for eight hours. They would be punished for wearing makeup or if they talked about their ambitions, reports said.

Such “virtue classes” were also run in other provinces including Guangdong, Shandong and Hebei.

In a lecture held in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, women were told not to hit back when beaten, and not to talk back when scolded, because it was women’s virtue to swallow an insult and never seek a divorce.

What on earth has brought about a resurgence of such feudal draff? Profit-driven motivation and women’s spiritual needs are the main factors behind the boom of “virtue classes.”

Running various courses in the name of promoting traditional Chinese culture is a lucrative business, thanks to the growing public interest in ancient wisdom for addressing modern anxieties. Many such courses are serious, but quite a few are fake. Their only aim is to make money by fooling people.

Chinese women who are faced with all sorts of headaches need spiritual guidance and comfort, so they tend to believe whatever “masters” tell them.

Women’s concerns need to be addressed, so the government and the community should do something concrete to satisfy their needs, hence reducing the opportunities for con artists to cheat the innocent.

Women should never forget that their genuine virtue lies in their independence.

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn