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Do Not Cry for Me, Confucius: The Reconstruction of Chinese Female Identity During the Cultural Revolution

Abstract

Traditional Chinese women were portrayed as delicate and submissive. The most famous proverbs prevailed in imperial China were “A woman without knowledge is a woman of virtue” and “It is the law of nature that woman should be held under the dominance of man.” Indeed, the rule of surviving in a society for any ancient Chinese women was “three obedience and four virtues”: a woman had to be obedient to her father before marriage, to her husband after marriage and to her son after her husband's death. She had to be moral, have proper speech, a modest manner and do diligent work.” A woman was doomed to subjugate to man from the moment she was born. This situation didn’t change until Sun Yat-Sen overthrew the feudalism institution in 1911. However, there was any feminist movement afterwards. Not until year 1966, in order to consolidate his control over Chinese ideology and eradicate anticommunist influences, Chairman Mao launched an unprecedented revolution in China: Proletarian Cultural Great Revolution. Although Cultural Revolution is still a taboo in Chinese society, it is a common sense among Chinese intellectuals that it was a disaster on Chinese ancient culture and civilization. In this paper, I attempt to demonstrate the radical feminist liberation movement appeared in this revolution, to investigate how this revolution "aimed at a complete cultural transformation of China, including on the issue of gender" (Hong, 2002).

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