Sexism In Imperial China

1274 Words6 Pages
Zackery Gostisha
History 109 - East Asian Societies
Short Paper 3

Patriarchy, Sexism, Oppression and More: Women in Imperial China

Imperial Chinese social norms imposed onto women an oppressive system that reduced or eliminated their rights, powers, and social standing while increasing their wants, criticisms, and duties. Some remarkable women were able to find ways to challenge or subvert this existing patriarchy; with luck, talent, and exceptional ambition. Both Empress Lu and Pan Chao fall within those bounds: they brilliantly acquired and exercised power despite their oppression, winning success and renown. This essay will discuss each of their stories, and through them Imperial China’s views on gender along with potential escapes
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Lu’s capacity for sheer torture slices directly through imposed her imposed gender role of being meek, polite, and kind. Her story continued as she attempted to place members of her own family into positions of power, especially kingships, across all of China. Her ultimate goal was likely absolute domination by the Lu family. A counter-coup eventually fomented and after she died her family was deposed and butchered into oblivion. For the purpose of understanding Imperial Chinese gender roles the further specifics of her story are less important than its basics, and that she ruled with intelligent calculation. It may be difficult to discern the true extent of her daily ruthlessness, but it is likely that without maintaining it she would have been deposed during her lifetime. Importance ought to be given to her ability to recognize how difficult (virtually impossible) it would be to become the formal emperor of China, and her cunning willingness to circumvent that block by constructing an elaborate power structure from behind the scenes, becoming de facto emperor.. She understood that symbolic power is important—indeed she used it to frighten her enemies—but real power does not necessarily reside in public. It is likewise…show more content…
She worked at court, serving as the chief (and most influential) advisor of the time. FOOTNOTE. She was the first known female Historian in the world, completing a history of the Han dynasty, mirrored after Sima Qian’s Records. She was a poet, librarian, astronomer, and archivist. She taught two of the most famous Confucian scholars to have lived, and she invented the famous style of commentary where original characters are written within larger columns and those of commentators within smaller ones. Most importantly for this paper, she was a moralist; an exemplar well-known for her writings on femininity. She advocated for the education of women, and was the first person in human history to be known for doing so. In such she can be considered a sort of proto-feminist. Her advocacy for female education has two sides to it: the fact that if followed, it would prove a tangible positive impact on countless lives, but that it is also proposed and framed within the same oppressive patriarchy that fails to allow any reasonable deviance from its gender roles, much less a consideration of the value of those roles. She supports--or claims to support--women acting with utmost modesty, fulfilling their assigned roles and doing so with obedient deference to the men in their lives. She takes women with humility and piety, caring and support. On top of it all, she advocates for women

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