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Foot Binding Essay

2206 words - 9 pages


In all societies, it was very common to have unequal treatment to men and women with the justification being the gender. This shaped the attitude and behavior of people. This commonly occurred to values, norms, customs, and laws in all societies. In the traditional Chinese society, it was very common for the bride to obey her parent-in-laws, do housework, and have a low social status within and outside of the household. Ancient China based its livelihood off of Confucian principles. Confucian principles act as a guide for the people to live and behave according to. Confucian principles included relationships such as the relationship of the emperor to his subjects, a father to a son, elder ...view middle of the document...

Women were regarded as subordinates to men. In a Confucian society, the ideology of having a male-dominated society pertains and influenced all Chinese hierarchies. This structure circulated around the children being obedient toward their parents, and the wife playing a passive and submissive role to the husband. There was a clear hierarchy where as boys were preferred over girls. Confucian ideologies placed emphasis on the role of women as housewives and mothers. In particular, they carried the role of son bearers to carry on the family line and name. Chinese women’s lives were subjected to the will of the men. It was difficult to enjoy individual autonomy and dignity, even in relating to lifelong happiness. Marriage arrangement was under the orders of the parents. Chinese people had a tradition of foot binding, a method where Chinese girls at a young age would bound their foot with bandages in order to forcefully break their toes in order to acquire a small lotus shaped foot. “[b]ound feet were a status symbol, the only way for a woman to marry into money. In Wang's case, her in-laws had demanded the matchmaker find their son a wife with tiny feet” (Lim). In order for women to be more sought after, and to be married into a family of higher status, women were forced into breaking their foot in order to look more attractive. It gave off a status symbol that the women didn’t have to work the fields, and they could go about with a bound feet. “These ‘golden lotuses’ were proof of a foot fetish on a national scale, with hobbled feet acting as another erogenous zone, the most forbidden of them all” (Lim). The bound foot was seen as a fetish to the people. Women didn’t share the same social standing as men, for they stood such cruel acts in order for them to appear more attractive to men. “[s]cholars say footbinding deepened female subjugation by making women more dependent on their men folk, restricting their movements and enforcing their chastity, since women with bound feet were physically incapable of venturing far from their homes” (Lim). It was widely believed that with bounded feet, the women could rely on their male counterpart. This was also believed to prevent adulteration of the relationship. Footbinding was not only done to appeal to men, but it also served other purposes to keep the women relying on the men, and this further proves that in a Confucian society, women are integrated to be lower than men in the social hierarchy.
Chinese literature illustrated how Confucianism played a huge role in society. In the autobiography, Six Records of Floating Life; it serves as a classic example of Chinese literature that showed the role of Confucianism. It was written in 1809 during the period of the Qing dynasty about an unsuccessful private secretary’s memoir. The author, Shen Fu wrote six short volumes, speaking of his thoughts, life, aesthetics, and how to live. Of these volumes, only four still remain. They are a very valuable resource...

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