Womanin China Thesocietal portrayalof a womanin China has beentransformedafter a longperiodwherewomenwerebeingregardedas subordinatecitizenswhohadto executetheordersof their malecounterpartsandlivein their image.ThetraditionalChina didnot givewomena chanceto decidehowto livetheir livesandbe thebesttheycould be justlike their malecounterparts(Hammondand Kristin 37). However,timeshavechangedgreatlypaving wayformodernization wherewomenhaveseentheir status upgradedthrough a seriesof eventsandactivities.Theeventsandactivitiesin questionhavebeenconductedwith a viewof upholdingandenhancingthedignityof womenin thesociety.
Traditionally,womenin theChinese societieswereperceivedas second-class citizenswhowerealwaysanswerableto their husbands,andothergrownup malemembersof their societies.Itistruethatwomendidnot havenamesof their own.Whentheyendedup gettingmarried,majorityof them endedup beingreferredto by their husbands’orfathers’lastnames.Yates(72) observes that theseweretheperiodswhenwomenhadnolegalrightsthat would enablethem, to participatein leadershipactivitiesthrough electionsandotherrelatedactivities.In mostscenarios,womencould not divorcetheir husbandson their ownsince theyweresupposedto usetheir natal malerelativesto facilitatetheentireprocess.
Itisseenthroughout theimperialperiodandbeyond thattherelationshipamong familiesandtheir memberswereprescribedby Confucian teachings.Brides’familyhadtheresponsibilityof payinga dowrybefore themarriageof their daughters.Thetraditionsallowedpolygamywheremenhadtherightto marrymanywomen.There wereconcubanagepracticeswherewomenweremarriedto menthoughwerenot regardedas legalwives(Ye132). Theseconcubineswerewomenwhoweresupposedto playsubordinaterolesto thelegalwives.Womenwerenot allowedto inherittheir fathers’propertyandotherbelongings thusallowingmento marryas manywivesto increasetheir chancesof havingmaleheirs.
Womenin traditionalChina hadnorightof choosingtheir spousessince theparentsreservedtherightto choosetherightpartnersfortheir childrenwheretheyaimedat incorporatingfamilyprestigeandotheraspectswhenchoosingsuitablespousesforthem. According to Yates(75), traditionsdidnot allowwomento seekformaleducationthoughthere werefewof them whogotrareopportunitiesthat enabledthem to learnbasics regardingwritingandreading.There wasa feelingearlierthatilliteratewomenweremoreobedientandproperhomekeepersthattheir learnedcounterparts.
Thestatus of women in traditional societies was set at birth. Thesociety cherished the birth of sons compared to that of daughtersthus symbolizing that daughters were less valued in that society. Thesons were seen as individuals who had the potential of carrying andupholding family name. The daughters grown into women who ended upmarrying in other families. Majority of the families treateddaughters discriminatively when it came to handling famine and othersorts of food shortages within the society (Yates 103). The daughterswere most disadvantaged during famines and warfare since they werethe last ones to be fed. The new born girls ended up being smotheredduring such difficult times to give their male counterparts anopportunity to thrive. The above named circumstances were rare tocome by though they portrayed a society that was determined todiscriminate against women when times were difficult. The treatmentthat daughters were subjected to during their early ages was extendedto advanced ages where grown up women were regarded to be less beingsby the society that decided not to accord them same rights and statusas their male counterparts.
Womenin modernChina are moreinformedandempoweredbotheconomically andsocially.Theseare womenwhocan standfortheir rightsandbecomeself-reliant.Thereformsthat wereintroducedby thecommunist governmentandotherrelatedstakeholders in thelastthree decades havegonea longwayto improvethestatus of theChinese women.According to Hammond and Kristin (65), modernization has broughtabout a numberof organizationsandindividualsthat haveactedas activists that havecontinuedto agitatefortheimprovementof thewelfareof thegirlchildin China. Thesegroupshavehelpedto pilepressureon therelevantauthoritiesto ensurethatwomenaccessproperandadequateschoolingas wellas ensuringthattheyaregivenaccessto competitivejobslike their malecounterparts.
Majorityof theChinese womenhavebecomesingletons implyingthattheyhavebeenallowedby their familiesandthesocietyat largeto receiveworldclasseducationin distinguishedinstitutions.Thegraduatesfrom suchinstitutionsare nowcompetingwith menin thejobmarketwheremajorityof thecompaniesare employingindividualsbased on academicmerits.Traditionally emphasizedinstitutionslike marriageare receivinglessattentionthan before.ModernChinese womenare delayingtheir marriagesin pursuantof highereducationandotherjob-related activities.Majorityof womenare dedicatedto their jobs,which are quitedemandingthusdenyingthem thechanceto rushinto marriagesas wasthecasein thetraditionalsetting(Yates79).
Theriseof modernization that iscoupledwith advancededucationandsearchfordecentjobsamong womenhas ledto activeparticipationof womenin politicalaffairs.As observed by Ye(96), womenare nolonger portrayingthemselves as homemakers since theyhaverealizedthattheyhavethepotentialto assumethereigns of leadershipbothin thepoliticalandcorporate world.Thesamewomenare constantlymovingawayfrom thetraditionalnotionof havingas manychildrenas their husbandsandsocietymay wish.Modernization has seenwomenturnto familyplanningtraitsthat aimat reducingthenumberof kids theycan bearin their lifetimes(Hammondand Kristin 89). Polygamyandtheideaof havingconcubineshavebeenreplacedwith monogamy andsinglehood wherewomancan eithermarrya singlemanorconcentrateon their jobsthusstayingsinglelives.
Modernwomen have access to the same educational and employmentopportunities in most of Chinese institutions as their malecolleagues. They have seized their opportunities to a level wherethey are ready to take on numerous leadership roles. Chinese woman ofthe present day are excessively motivated to take on leadership be itat corporate, religious, and political levels. It implies that theyare determined to break the barriers that might be hindering theirparticipation in all aspects of the society that are affecting theiractivities (Yates 94). The communist party leading Chinese governmenthas registered an increase in the number of women leadership who haveaspirations of ascending to the highest political offices. Suchaspirations and determination implies that these are people who areready to take responsibility and move from the old cocoons that hadlimited their public participation in leadership activities. Majorityof religious authorities are endorsing the motives of women who aredetermined to take on religious leadership roles. Such religions havemodern approaches to handling their activities unlike some of thetraditional religions that seem to be conservative when it comes tothe idea of having women leaders.
Inconclusion, OldtraditionalChina underminedthestatus anddignityof womenin thesensethattheywereconfinedin thedomesticsettingas homemakers whohadto obeyandbe loyalto their husbands.Womenwerenot allowedto questionmostof thedecisionsmadeby their husbandsormalecounterparts,andhadto beara numberof kids accordingto thewishesof thehusbands.Polygamyandconcubanage weretheorderof thedaywherewomenwereportrayedas objectsthat hadto playsecondfiddleto men.However,theincoming of modernization has changedthenotions that werehelddearlyin thetraditionalsetting.Womenare moreempowered andenlightenedto theextentwheretheyendup livingtheir livesas theywish.Majorityof educatedandemployedChinese womancan decideon howto taketheir livesto thenextlevels. Education and employment opportunities available to womenhave increased their public participation where many of them arecoming up to air their views concerning governance. There is everyreason that modern women have much information and skills that makeit hard for them to be reduced to second- class citizens as was oncethe case.
Hammond,Kenneth J, and Kristin E. Stapleton. TheHuman Tradition in Modern China.
Yates,Robin D. S. Womenin China from Earliest Times to the Present: A Bibliography ofStudies in Western Languages.Leiden: Brill, 2009. Print. & Littlefield, 2008. Print.
Ye,Yunshan. TheAla Guide to Researching Modern China., 2014. Print.