gender roles

gender roles
While sharing similar traditions with many other cultures that generally designate man as the bread-earner and woman the family caretaker, the Chinese have also viewed femininity and virility in terms of the complementary but also hierarchical pair of yin (negative) and yang (positive). Men were strong and women weak, men smart and women unintelligent, and so forth. The long history of Confucian indoctrination and imperial endorsement reinforced this notion of women’s inferiority. Traditionally, a woman had to obey three men in her life: her father as a daughter, her husband as a wife, and her son when widowed.
Mao’s New China and his proclamation that men and women were the same greatly elevated Chinese women’s status. Women began to do what men traditionally did: piloting aircraft and participating in all levels of state affairs, while men, for their part, increasingly took housekeeping for granted as part of married life. With today’s booming economy and more open society, China has provided more opportunities for androgyny: men wearing long hair and women short; men dressed like women and women like men. The number of women smoking and drinking is also on the rise. However, traditional notions of gender roles persist. An overwhelming majority of women that appear in children’s literature, for example, assume the role of educators and caretakers, while the same percentage of men are portrayed as scientists. Similarly, in school, boys are engaged in more physically and mentally demanding tasks than their counterpart sex, whose activities tended to be of a more quiet and artistic nature.
China is a large country with diverse cultures, and notions of virility and femininity may differ. However, men’s prowess versus women’s gentleness are virtues of universal acceptance—a song that compares man to a mountain and woman to a river illustrates the point. Physically, girls view boys shorter than 1.70 metres as unattractive, while boys prefer girls with a good shape and fine complexion. Incidentally, young women in cities go to great lengths to avoid being tanned and many are obsessed with dieting. Generally, men and women in north China have a stouter and taller stature, while women in the lower Yangtze Delta and the Sichuan Basin are thought to best fit men’s stereotype of femininity. Psychologically, women look to men as a safe haven that can provide them with financial and emotional security. Honesty and financial success, therefore, are still considered more important in a male than a sinewy body and handsome face.
Interestingly, according to a recent study made by an advertisement company, Chinese men themselves resent such handsome sinewy male models. To a Chinese man, the power of control and the respect from others, what is known to them as ‘face’, are more important to virility than muscles.
Brownell, Susan and Wasserstrom, Jeffrey (eds) (2002). Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities: A Reader. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Entwisle, Barbara and Henderson, Gail E. (eds) (2000). Re-Drawing Boundaries: Work, Households and Gender in China. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Evans, Harriet (1995). ‘Defining Difference: The “Scientific” Construction of Sexuality and Gender in the PRC’. Signs 20.2 (Winter).
——(1997). Women and Sexuality in China: Female Sexuality and Gender Since 1949. New York: Continuum.
Finnane, Antoine and McLaren, Anne (eds) (1999). Dress, Sex, and Text in Chinese Culture. Clayton: Monash Institute.
Louie, Kam (2002). Theorising Chinese Masculinity: Society and Gender in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Louie, Kam and Low, Morris (eds) (2003). Asian Masculinities: The Meaning and Practice of Manhood in China and Japan. New York and London: RoutledgeCurzon.
Rofel, Lisa (1999). Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Smith, Christopher J. (2000). ‘Gender Issues in the Transition out of Socialism’. In idem, China in the Post-Utopian Age. Boulder: Westview Press, 289–320.
Yang, Mayfair Mei Hui (ed.) (1999). Spaces of Their Own: Woman’s Public Sphere in Transnational China. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • gender roles — гендерные роли …   Термины гендерных исследований

  • Gender roles in Christianity — Part of a series on Christianity and Gender Theology Female disciples of Jesus Gender roles in Christianity …   Wikipedia

  • Gender roles in First Nations and Native American tribes — This article concerns the traditional gender roles of various Native American and Canadian Aboriginal tribes. They vary greatly from region to region and from tribe to tribe, and in some cases even from band to band within a tribe or First Nation …   Wikipedia

  • Gender roles in Afghanistan — Afghan society is consistent in its attitudes toward the underlying principles of gender. It is the application of these principles that varies from group to group; and there is a wide range of standards set for accepted female behavior, as well… …   Wikipedia

  • Gender roles in Islam — This article is about gender roles, in families and relationships between men and women, in Islam. For other related topics, including Islamic women s clothing and other differences in Islamic law between the sexes, see Women and Islam. In Islam …   Wikipedia

  • Gender roles in Eastern Europe after Communism — The scope of this article includes Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, former Czechoslovakia, and the Balkan states. Changes in gender roles in Eastern Europe that were less noticeable than increased pornography also occurred after the fall of… …   Wikipedia

  • gender roles — See gender …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Gender roles in Lebanon — The family in Lebanon, as elsewhere in the region, assigns different roles to family members on the basis of gender. The superior status of men in society and within the narrow confines of the nuclear family transcends the barriers of sect or… …   Wikipedia

  • Gender roles in Sri Lanka — All ethnic groups in Sri Lanka preserve clear distinctions in the roles of the sexes. Women are responsible for cooking, raising children, and taking care of housework. In families relying on agriculture, women are in charge of weeding and help… …   Wikipedia

  • Gender roles in Algeria — In Algeria, as in the rest of the Middle East, women are traditionally regarded as weaker than men in mind, body, and spirit. The honor of the family depends largely on the conduct of its women; consequently, women are expected to be decorous,… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”