Negotiating Gender in Modern China, Western Feminism and Tradition in China

Since the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China the conditions for women have improved in material, legal and social terms.    Legal and social advances for women began with a marriage law in 1950, which put an end to such traditional practices as arranged marriage, polygamy, the sale of daughters, childhood betrothal and concubinage, while an expanded experience beyond the domestic sphere, which traditionally women had been confined to1, became a reality for women, as they were encouraged to move into the labor force as equals to men. Educational opportunities and vocational training that had traditionally been shut to women became areas in which women were encouraged to join. The constitution has continually remained inclusive towards women’s rights and gender equality. In the 1980s a series of regulations called for health care facilities, childcare centers, and other women related initiatives to provide for mothers and pregnant women in the work place ( Woo, 1994 ), while crimes of rape, incitation of prostitution, and female abduction became offences that could lead to capital punishment. (Yang, 1999)  These advances have taken place over the decades since the 1950, and though they have not sprung in an even progression, overall, women have seen more security and opportunity in the rural communes, the urban collectives, and within society since market reforms than they had experienced in traditional China2. Mayfair Yang has stated that in legal terms “…China may be better than the United States, since the Equal Rights Amendment to include a gender provision in the U.S. Constitution never passed, despite heavy lobbying by American feminists.”( Yang, 37 ).  In China’s case lobbying may seem not necessary, since the Chinese Communist Party has legally provided for equality in regards to gender during much of its existence (Croll, 1978), but one must not assume that the state’s inclusion of feminist concerns, even to the point of constitutional ‘guarantees’, will automatically translate into a liberation of women.   

Despite the explicit laws and consistent rhetoric, the People’s Republic of China has had a complex and often contradictory association with the concept of women’s liberation. Where laws have been instituted in regards to gender equality they were more than often not easily incorporated into the lives of people and community. We shall see that such concerns of western feminists in the PRC have been encumbered by problems of a contextual nature. First, by considering the early Marriage Law of 1950, when the PRC first embarked on their quest of equal rights for women in the newly formed communist republic, feminist concerns came to be subsumed under the class struggle while the traditionally male dominated power structures were never addressed. The traditional patriarchal structure was instrumental to the government in collectivization leaving little room for its displacement. This spelled of a tenuous commitment to women’s issues by the male dominated Chinese Communist Party. Second, with the Cultural Revolution gender “became an unmarked and neutralized category…” (Yang, 41 ) as women moved into more male positions, and femininity was de-emphasized, such salient neutrality of gender masked a reality in which women were burdened by housework as they entered outside work. Thirdly, in recent decades Mayfair Yang states “a more overt patriarchal culture has reasserted itself with the return to a privatized economy and transnational capital in the post-Mao era” ( Yang, 39 ). The contradictory effects of the reform era are seen in the new gains as well as new oppressions, such as new work place discriminations, and the reemergence of traditional patterns of the past ( White, Howell, Shang, 1996 ).  We hope to make clear that the feminist agenda of the PRC has been fraught with perhaps the same problem as has come to be associated with China’s attempts at modernity3, namely a contextual barrier that encompasses China’s own uniqueness in historical and cultural terms. As Parish and White stated in there pioneering book on urban China (1984) “ The cultural context in which this effort [gender equality] is being carried out…is one most observers would argue is quite challenging to any quest for sexual equality.”   

What has been absent in China is a slow unfolding of feminist consciousness, in which women themselves become aware of gendered inequities, leading to an incomplete and tenuous result. As we discuss the presence of western feminism in China the larger question of modernity shall be eventually brought forth only as it impinges on the topic at hand in hopes that it will highlight the contextual problematic which we hope to uncover, namely that the power structure of patriarchy as well as patterns of the past, both deriving from a contextual milieu made up of historical and cultural underpinnings, seem to have obstructed successes in regards to a the communist endeavor at gender equality.  

China’s initial engagement with feminism was not an historical and cultural development in which women consciously became aware of gendered inequities, rather it was the imposition of a western concept onto a largely uneducated peasant society. According to Li Xiao Jiang, “a new ideology of Western learning consciously introduced by Chinese intellectuals.….came from the Enlightenment, the product of capitalist industrial civilization and the French Revolution.” ( Li/Yang, 266 ). This took place at the turn of the century when intellectuals took issue with feudal tradition in the face of a comparatively advanced west. Male intellectuals took up women’s issues under the pretense of nationalism. The Education act 1907 sought to bring education to women as it was thought, “…the good education of the citizens of the empire depended upon the good education of its women.” (Croll 53 ), here ‘citizens’ is synonymous with men. During the first half of the twentieth century women’s issues were subsumed under a male political and intellectual quests for national strengthening and nation building, where as in the west alterations of the political and cultural landscape over time gave rise to a societal fertility in which feminism consciousness was able to take root. 

 In the west the emergence of feminist consciousness was dependent on the development of individualism and freedom as the feudal power structures receded, and the political landscape was greatly altered. George Simmel, who traces the emergence of individuality as it grew out of a receding feudal power structure,  “The conscious emphasis on individuality as a matter of principle certainly does seem to have been the original accomplishment of the Renaissance” ( Simmel, 217 ).  The very rise the individual during the Renaissance was tainted with strivings for ‘distinction’ and ‘self aggrandizement’, but by the eighteenth century individualism had matured into the ideal of freedom.  In the eighteenth century “ the feudal powers, the church, the prince and the nobility who where the carriers of the repressive publicness disintegrated …” ( Habermas, 11 ).  Simmel makes a similar observation that “The oppressiveness of such institutions [ paternalism, higher estates, the church] which had lost their intrinsic justification gave rise to the ideal of pure freedom for the individual.” ( Simmel, 219)  In regards to China one must question whether a western feminism, or a feminism at all, can properly place itself within a society where power structures have not been altered to the degree as they have been in the west.  

Traditionally, in China the family has ontologically definedä ones existence, meaning there has been little or no space  present for an individuality4. Lucian Pye states that “From early childhood Chinese are taught that individualism is evil…and that security can be found only by sticking to the assigned roles in the collective.” ( Pye, 199-200 ) Defined as an economic unit the family, representing the collective, has traditionally been made up of people who are related through sanguine ties, bbbmarriage and adoption. The involvement in shared common property, as well as shared consumption also delimited the membership of a family. This collective was held together by the patriline, the linage system in which males are the threads connecting generations through time, and where a male offspring was absent such a line was in jeopardy of dying off. An interdependency of reciprocity between the living and the deceased cemented the structure in a cosmology of ancestor spirits dependent on the living for offerings, while spirits favorably affected circumstances for the living. Ideally, the family under one roof consisted of multiple generations with the oldest living male as the head, subsequent son with wives, and beyond that grandsons and perhaps their wives and children. The ideal extended family was more the exception than the rule, where as the joint family and the conjugal family were more prevalent, for economic constraints limited the family. It is in this family structure held together lineally through time by the patriline that has been the primary contributing factor to the subjugation of women throughout China’s history. ää  By ontological reality being the nature of existence in which the individual was found in traditional China, which extended beyond the cultural and social.   

Women’s subjugation by the patrilinial power structure gave them no rights of their own, save for the right to marry, and provide childbirth. In such a structure they were looked upon as being mere property destined for relocation from their natal family to that of another as wives, concubines, or children for betrothal or laborers. Women’s contributions to their original family were seen as being near to nothing in “the way of enhancing their [familiy] state status, increasing their wealth, or providing for their care in old age.” (Wolf, 1). Hugh Baker portrays the crudeness of such a structure by stating that “The family was a residential and economic unit composed of males….forced to import women as brides, and it disposed of females born to it by marrying them off to other families”( Baker, 24 ). Marriage was patrilocal and as Stacey points out, such a right to marriage “may appear in retrospect as her right to be enslaved.” (Stacey, 52 )  Tamara Jacka states that traditional marriage practices meant that women were temporal members of their natal family prior to marriage and after marriage they would become outsiders (Jacka, 1997 ) Fertility had traditionally always been seen as a women’s primary purpose, which directly tied her to the patriline of which she was not a part, as she was expected to give birth to a son who could carry on the lineage. In pre-revolutionary China women were simply accessories to the patriarchal order, which subordinated them to the service of the order.    

In 1950 the PRC began a process which “collapsed the boundaries between public and domestic spheres…diminished the patriarchal family power to a certain extent through replacing the family units with collectives units as the basic unit of production and accounting” ( Yang, 38 ), but according to Judith Stacy these processes of reform and collectivization democratized patriarchy in the peasant and middle class population in the effort of eliminating the patriarchal elite. Perhaps more importantly the reform process  “secured” this new democratized patriarchy’s presence in Chinese society for decades to come5, leaving the power structure intact at the familial and local levels. As a basis for establishing cooperatives the Chinese Communist government used the family, and Stacey is certain to state that this was the “patriarchal family unit”. Referring to the peasant households which made the decision to join the collectivization process, she states “Peasant patriarchs who made this decision did not forfeit much family authority in the process.” Drawing on the study of Norma Diamond, Stacy indicates that efforts at promoting cooperative movements the Chinese Communists “Relied on the ‘natural’ relationships and communities” ( Stacey, 211 ) by utilizing the ties of lineage “to socialize the rural sector”. It was to be within the matrix of the existing villages and neighborhoods that cooperative production units would be formed. Again drawing on Diamond, Stacey asserts that “collectivization strengthened networks of cooperating male kinsmen” who would ascend to the positions of leadership hence complementing the “newly won collective economic power” ( Stacey, 211 ). One of the more concrete examples of this is the work points scheme in which ownership rights to dwellings, small plots for gardening, minor livestock holdings remained in the hands of the individual families, allowing for “a crucial portion of subsistence production” ( Stacy, 206). Interdependency amongst the family members was encouraged through the collective totaling of work points and incomes, all of which went to the patriarchal household head.  

An example of the tenacious hold of the patriarchal power structure, as well as the weak resolve of the party’s commitment to gender equality is seen in partial questionable success of the Marriage Law of 1950, which was to ushered in a new era for women as the state legally endorsed privileges of divorce, as well as the abolition of the traditional practices of arranged and bartered marriages, concubinage, and the sale of daughters for betrothal. The state succeeded in eliminating the two latter practices, but such efforts at equalizing gender through the Marriage Law did not achieve the intended results in the way of   privileges for divorce. The lineage structure maintained a hold on marriage practices to an extent. Women, who opted for divorce, come up against family, community as well as cadre. Margery Wolf states Newspapers from the 50s and 60s document “young women beaten or tortured by their husbands’ families for loose behavior…” when attempting to exercise their right for divorce. Stacy points out that men viewed such divorces as threats which resulted in the loss of their property and wives, in that women could gain property rights and leave their husbands. Three years after the law had been in place the situation had not improved and the government “ ..wind down its active implementation of the law and …stressing instead the importance of harmonious families as the foundation of the socialist order..” (Bailey, 158 ). Women came to be portrayed as bourgeois and individualistic if seeking to end a marriage in divorce. This clearly points to a patriarchal resistance to changes, which were to undermine their power. Such power was to be assimilated into the revolution as the government sought to implement collectivization shortly after completing land reform.  The shifting of policy and manipulation of the gender issue exemplified above has became a defining signature to ‘state sponsored feminism’ in the PRC6. 

In the past two decades since the post-Mao reforms were implemented the state has continued it’s empty commitment to gender equality, and this is exhibited in the contradictions for women which have evolved since market reforms. Ongoing legislation has attempted to insure the protection of women, in regards to fertility, in the work place, and with the market reforms new job opportunities for women beckon them from the countryside to the more desirable urban centers. The new job opportunities for women are primarily due to the rise of the market economy, while at the same time the government plays no part in protecting women from being the first to be sacrificed in the workplace as inefficient state owned enterprises are reduced in size or eliminated.  Concerning the protection of women in the workplace, according to Margaret Woo, these protections point to a new defining of women on biological terms and has easily lead to discriminations based on biology. Such a new reality contrasts sharply with the era prior to market reforms, which saw gender differentiation de-emphasized. To understand such shifts one needs only to look at the previous era beginning with the Cultural Revolution to understand the surge in the recognition of a naturalized conceptualization of woman, for it was in the Mao era that China’s population was subject to a grand imposition of a genderless and desexualized social sphere.     

During the Cultural Revolution femininity was discouraged in favor of what was to be a ‘neutral’ territory of gender, but was actually to be based on maleness, which saw women conform to the male standards of work and appearance by adopting male clothes and joining the traditional arena of male labor.  Women cut their hair short and wore baggy clothes so as to mask their feminine bodies. Entering the ranks of male workers women at the extreme were seen as Iron Girls who engaged in the more rugged physical labor areas, such as oil fields, but overall women joined in factory work and most notably took on farming. The irony in this supposed equality was that as women joined the ranks of male labor in an effort for equality, one did not see men alleviating or sharing in the burdens of household work, which led to a double burden for the women who ventured into labor beyond the household. Homemaking was quite onerous for women in China at the time as the lack of modern household appliances, the long queues for purchases, and the maintenance of coal stoves made household labor quite extensive (Whyte and Parish,1984 ).  Mayfair Yang sees that Cultural Revolution’s ‘gender erasure’ cloaked a reality which saw women absent from the “higher levels of decision making positions” ( Yang, 43 ). Power structures of male domination remained intact. Women accounted for only 11 percent of the Central Committee and 4 percent of the politburo by 1977. (Whyte and Parish, 1984 ) During the Cultural Revolution the rhetoric of gender equality remained the same and was even heightened through ‘gender erasure’, but this resulted in a mere ornamental facade that hid the reality of inequity and male political dominance. Most importantly, such a de-emphasis on sexual difference caused gender to disappear as a visible arena of discourse. ( Yang, 1999 )   

Though not truly remedying inequality, in retrospect the gender erasure did have a profound impact on the society at large and this is only certain now in the era of reform. Lisa Rofel describes what she calls the ‘post socialist allegory’ as a naturalization of gender, which represents a creating and redefining of the feminine after its suppression. According to Rofel naturalization is encountered in much of Chinese society today, from employment practices and government policy to social entitlements, television programming and other media such as magazines and popular fiction. Commercialization and market forces have brought the image of a sexualized women into pervasive view. Mayfair Yang states that where as in the Mao period male power displaced the female, the post-Mao era male power is seen as defining  “the female by encouraging her to evaluate herself in her reflection in the male” ( Yang, 49 ).  Such  naturalizations and sexualizations are embraced by women as they seek to regain a lost subjectivity and Rofel sees that the state is far from complicity in that such naturlization serves to legitimate it’s decisions. The reappearance of sexual difference may be necessary for fertile discourse regarding gender equality, as Yang states that such a reality is ‘disturbing and liberating’. As the state sees feminist concerns as being an accomplished fact, new space is opening for women independent of the state to voice their concerns.  

In the policy that appeared in the 1980s the government has sought to protect women in the workplace in regards to female biology. In 1986 the government put into law healthcare regulations, and in 1988 they created the Labor Protection Regulation. The intent of these regulations “were to protect women’s health-meaning their reproductive capabilities-and to ‘enhance the quality of the nation’” ( Woo, 281 ). These regulations according to Margaret Woo echo the traditional Chinese medical view that women are weak because of their reproductive function, hence they are in need of special protections. These regulations concern limiting women’s activity during menstruation7, pregnancy and postpartum. Woo sees these regulations as leading to discriminations, as she states  “When faced with providing protective benefits, some factory managers simply chose not to hire women workers. Such gendered based employment practices are only reinforced by the new market reforms, as profit becomes the new mantra in the era of reforms. ( White, Howell, Shang ) 

 

ConclusionMayfair Yang notes that in China between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries external constructs where not able to penetrate deeply and so did not alter traditional culture fundamental core.” ( Yang, 16 ) for there existed more continuity between traditional culture, which was ‘more intact’(than the west’s), and China’s past.  One can propose that such a condition did not allow feminism to ‘penetrate’ during the second half of the twentieth century. Broadening our scope one must speak of modernity as encompassing feminism. In this light Yang does not see the entrenchment of tradition as being carried into the twentieth century. Arguing against Nick Dirks, who sees modernity as being an ‘imposed or extrinsic process rather than an intrinsic process” hence leading to an unfinished or incomplete modernity vis a vis feminism, Yang states that the ‘reformers and revolutionaries’ of China ‘internalized aspects of colonialism …” and saw themselves as “liberators of China from its oppressive tradition…” (Yang/Moore, 105). This must include the idea that these are also ‘liberators’ of women from the very same oppressive tradition, as exemplified by the early twentieth century male intellectual attempts to tie women’s liberation with national strengthening. In her article Tradition, traveling anthropology and the discourse of modernity in China, Yang state that the Maoist revolution destroyed tradition, but according to Stacey’s account of patriarchy we see that tradition was not destroyed. By bringing this argument to bare upon the question at hand, that of western feminism in China , we have seen that such a “rooting out” of tradition or “stripping of culture” was not completely accomplished. Yang is mistaken in her belief that tradition has been ‘overcome’, for it is the contextual fabric which has made feminism in China a difficult and tenuous concept. What we see instead is a collaboration between the effort at socialist modernization and elements of tradition (Stacey, 1984 ), namely patriarchy.  In the post-Mao era something new is taking place as state, and citizens correct the wrongs of the past in a naturalization of gender differentiation. Such a post-socialist allegory, according to Rofel, is an attempt at reaching “modernity …by producing the kinds of people who can embrace the attributes that appear to constitute modern selves.” (Rofel, 220) In the west during the 1800s a sexually dimorphic conception of gender was inordinately emphasized allowing for critical appraisal of the ‘naturalized binary gender’ and eventually moving in the direction of a less defined gender ordering (Yang, 1999). Is it only through the stress on the dimorphism of naturalized gender in the post-Mao era that the underlying causes of women’s oppression can come to the fore? Mayfair Yang puts the question quite correctly when she asks “what gender is the state” and quoting Kenneth Dean and Brian Massumi she says “The state apparatus … is gendered: it is masculine. State desire is by nature patriarchal.” ( Yang, 65 )  Is not patriarchy tradition?   

1 Traditionally in China women’s space had regional variations, and these variations depended on economic necessity, class, as well as ethnicity. For instance, Hakka women where included to a greater extent in fieldwork, and in the south women engaged in such cultivation as tea and sericulture. In more wealthy peasant families women’s space did not much extend beyond the domestic sphere.   (Jacka, 1997)   

 2 In this paper ‘traditional China’ indicates pre republican era, and more so pre-revolutionary era, for the republican era did not thoroughly alter the cultural landscape as did communism after 1950.  Basically, traditional China is indicative of the feudal and imperial ordering of Chinese society before western political concepts (republicanism, socialism, capitalism, and nationalism) were to significantly to take hold beginning in the late Ch’ing period and progressively so through the first half of the twentieth century. Throughout this paper the use of pre-revolutionary China and traditional China shall be synonymously applied.        

 3 In his article A Failed Chinese Modernity Edward Friedman discusses the failed anti-imperialist nationalist modernity of the Mao era. The Great Culture Discussions and the program Heshang highlight the questionable effectiveness of the Post-Mao modernity in the 1980s. Aihwa Ong in here article  Anthropology, China, and Modernities speaks about a possible new modernity emerging on China’s own historic and cultural terms to include ‘state sponsored Confucian renewal’, and which takes nothing from ‘western political philosophy, ie: democracy.       

3 In his article A Failed Chinese Modernity Edward Friedman discusses the failed anti-imperialist nationalist modernity of the Mao era. The Great Culture Discussions and the program Heshang highlight the questionable effectiveness of the Post-Mao modernity in the 1980s. Aihwa Ong in here article  Anthropology, China, and Modernities speaks about a possible new modernity emerging on China’s own historic and cultural terms to include ‘state sponsored Confucian renewal’, and which takes nothing from ‘western political philosophy, ie: democracy.       

4 The concept of individualism was appropriated by Chinese intellectuals at the turn of the century through what Lydia H. Siu has coined as translingual migration. Via Japan modern concepts such as ‘subjectivity’ and ‘individuality’, as well as ‘religion’ were translated from the Japanese. In this way we see that ideas and concepts, which China had previously been devoid of, were brought into China for the particular purpose of national formation and self-strengthening by intellectuals. 

5 In the epilog to Patriarchy and Socialist Revolution in China Stacey discusses the effects of the Four Modernizations and the one child policy on the patriarchal order. The rural urban differences as well as regional differences, and the relaxed posture that the government has taken towards lineages makes patriarchy and kinship based associations to have an uneven distribution in China today. None the less lineages and patriarchal dominance can be seen in the county side, particularly in the south, where as  urban life has not been conducive to lineages, or there reformation. 

6 In the 1950s, women were encouraged to remain in the home, due to a labor surplus. In the late 1950s the state sought to increase the ranks of women in non-domestic labor, and the largest increase came during the Cultural Revolution. In the initial post-Mao era women were discouraged to join the work force. Such policies ebbed and flowed with the market and other issues not related to women’sequality.( Jacka, Woo )      

7  In traditional China women were strictly regulated during menstruation as they were seen as being associated with pollutions and could potentially ruin crops. ( Wolf, Stacey )  BIBLIOGRAPHYBailey, Paul J.  (2001)   China in the Twentieth Century   Blackwell, Massachusetts Baker, Hugh   (1979)  Chinese Family and Kinship, Columbia University Press Croll, Elizabeth  (1978)  Feminism and Socialism in China  Routledge and Kegan, London Entwistle, Barbra and Gail Henderson (Ed.)  (2000)  Re-Drawing Boundaries,  University of California PressFriedman, Edward  (1993)  A Failed Chinese Modernity in Tu Wei-ming  (ed.)   (1993)   China in Transformation,  Harvard University Press Gilmartin, Christina K. Gail Hershatter, Lisa Rofel, and Tyrene White (ed.)   (1994)  Engendering China: Women, Culture and the State, Harvard University Press Habermas, Jurgen  (1989)  The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,  Polity Press, Cambridge         Habermas, Jurgen  (1987)  The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity  MIT Press,     Massachusetts Jacka, Tamara   (1997)   Women’s Work in Rural China, University of Cambridge Press    Li Xiaojiang   (1999)  With What Discourse Do We Reflect on Chinese Women  in Yang, Mayfare  (1999) Spaces of Their Own   University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Liu, Lydia, (1995)  Transligual Practices  Stanford University Press Stanford   Moore, Henrietta   (ed.)  (1996)   The Future of Anthropological Knowledge, Routlege    Ong, Aihwa (1996)    Anthropology, China and modernities, The Geographics of Cultural Knowledge in Moore, Henrietta   (ed.)  (1996)   The Future of Anthropological Knowledge, Routlege    Parish, William and Martin Whyte  (1984)  Urban Life in Contemporary China, University of Chicago             Press  Pye, Lucian W.  (1992)  The Spirit of Chinese Politics (new ed.), Harvard University Press Riencourt, Amaury de  (1983)  Women and Power in History   Pitman Press   Rofel, Lisa  (1999)   Other Modernities,  University of California Press.     Simmel, George    (1971) On Individuality and Social Form The University of Chicago Press     Tu Wei-ming  (ed.)   (1993)   China in Transformation,  Harvard University Press  Stacy, Judith  (1983)  Patriarchy and the Socialist Revolution in China  University of California Press    Berkeley  White, Gordon, Judy Howell and Xiaoyuan Shang   (1996)  In Search of Civil Society: Market Reforms and Social Change in Contemporary China, Clarendon Press, Oxford  Wolf, Margery   (1985)    Revolution Postponed , Stanford University Press Stanford  Woo, Margaret   (1994)  Chinese Women Workers: The Delicate Balance between Protection and Equality in Gilmartin, Christina K. Gail Hershatter, Lisa Rofel, and Tyrene White (ed.)   (1994)  Engendering China: Women, Culture and the State, Harvard University Press    Wong, Linda and Norman Flynn   (2001)  The Market in Chinese Social Policy  Palgrave New York                Yang, Mayfare  (1999)  From Gender Erasure to Gender Difference: State Feminism, Consumer                 Sexuality, and Women’s Public Space  In Yang, Mayfare  (1999)  Spaces of Their Own              University of Minnesota, Minneapolis              


marks from paper:1 Traditionally in China women’s space had regional variations, and these variations depended on economic necessity, class, as well as ethnicity. For instance, Hakka women where included to a greater extent in fieldwork, and in the south women engaged in such cultivation as tea and sericulture. In more wealthy peasant families women’s space did not much extend beyond the domestic sphere.   (Jacka, 1997)   

2 In this paper ‘traditional China’ indicates pre republican era, and more so pre-revolutionary era, for the republican era did not thoroughly alter the cultural landscape as did communism after 1950.  Basically, traditional China is indicative of the feudal and imperial ordering of Chinese society before western political concepts (republicanism, socialism, capitalism, and nationalism) were to significantly to take hold beginning in the late Ch’ing period and progressively so through the first half of the twentieth century. Throughout this paper the use of pre-revolutionary China and traditional China shall be synonymously applied.        

    

3 In his article A Failed Chinese Modernity Edward Friedman discusses the failed anti-imperialist nationalist modernity of the Mao era. The Great Culture Discussions and the program Heshang highlight the questionable effectiveness of the Post-Mao modernity in the 1980s. Aihwa Ong in here article  Anthropology, China, and Modernities speaks about a possible new modernity emerging on China’s own historic and cultural terms to include ‘state sponsored Confucian renewal’, and which takes nothing from ‘western political philosophy, ie: democracy.       

ä By ontological reality being the nature of existence in which the individual was found in traditional China, which extended beyond the cultural and social.

4 The concept of individualism was appropriated by Chinese intellectuals at the turn of the century through what Lydia H. Siu has coined as translingual migration. Via Japan modern concepts such as ‘subjectivity’ and ‘individuality’, as well as ‘religion’ were translated from the Japanese. In this way we see that ideas and concepts, which China had previously been devoid of, were brought into China for the particular purpose of national formation and self-strengthening by intellectuals. 

5 In the epilog to Patriarchy and Socialist Revolution in China Stacey discusses the effects of the Four Modernizations and the one child policy on the patriarchal order. The rural urban differences as well as regional differences, and the relaxed posture that the government has taken towards lineages makes patriarchy and kinship based associations to have an uneven distribution in China today. None the less lineages and patriarchal dominance can be seen in the county side, particularly in the south, where as  urban life has not been conducive to lineages, or there reformation.   

6 In the 1950s, women were encouraged to remain in the home, due to a labor surplus. In the late 1950s the state sought to increase the ranks of women in non-domestic labor, and the largest increase came during the Cultural Revolution. In the initial post-Mao era women were discouraged to join the work force. Such policies ebbed and flowed with the market and other issues not related to women’sequality.( Jacka, Woo )      

7  In traditional China women were strictly regulated during menstruation as they were seen as being associated with pollutions and could potentially ruin crops. ( Wolf, Stacey

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