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 Introduction

 

This web site is intended to be an informative guide for those who are interested in studying Chinese women in the past and present.

Chinese Women's Studies is of interest to both Chinese and Western scholars. Chinese women have a unique experience on their way to feminism. It is well known that women have inferior positions in traditional China. Chinese society in Confucian terms was a patriarchal society with strict rules of conduct. The underlying principles or governing rationale were the teachings of Confucius (551-479 B.C.). The traditional ideal woman was a dependant being whose behavior was governed by the "three obediences and four virtues". The three obediences were obedience to father before marriage, the husband after marriage, and the son in case of widows. The four virtues were propriety in behavior, speech, demeanor and employment. Education for women was intended to inculcate these virtues. Another obvious symbol of the confinement and subordination of women was the custom of binding the feet of young girls in order to achieve their "female beauty" according to men's standard. This backward custom started in the later 17th century and lasted until the early 19th century.

With the radical social changes and revolutions in the 20th century, gender relations became a field of conflict  in China and Chinese women's status was enormously improved. Ever since the UN 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, women's issues have drawn much more attention in China. And the preparatory activities for the conference themselves were described as a significant milestone by some Chinese scholars. There were seminars, research investigations and new publications, with organizations looking to and addressing their own gender issues.  Women's Studies in China now exists in two interpenetrating strands: the All China Women's Federation (ACWF) and academia. We are looking forward to more rapid progress in women's studies in China.

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This site was originally created  as part of a direct study of
Feminism and Library and Information Studies  
School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta.

It was updated in July 2003 as part of a capping exercise for
the completion of my Master of Library and Information Studies degree.

Please send comments to Nonie Xue
Last update July 16th, 2003