Women’s Role in Chinese Life
This paper explores the growing societal changes that have taken place in the lives of women in China’s long history.
This paper examines the history of women’s roles and rights throughout China’s history, and the philosophical underpinnings of these roles in Confucianism and traditional Chinese belief. The author examines the changes in women’s lives since the Chinese Revolution.
Today, Chinese women have entered society, without necessarily walking out of the family, and so they are given more than one role in life. China is both an old country and a new country, and its expectations of women reflect that duality. For nearly 3,000 years, China was a feudal society. A new China emerged only after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, in 1949. And the country’s modernization has continued in the last 15 years with the institution of economic reform and a policy of interaction with the outside world. In traditional China, marriage was the defining event of a female’s life, shifting her space, affiliation and responsibility from her parents’ family to her husband’s. There is a common saying in China: men tend the outside and women the inside (nan zhu wai n zhu nei). A woman’s social role was confined to the family. Her major obligation was caring for her husband, in-laws and children.