Chinese Society China Paper CHINESE SOCIETY Even since the dramatic post-1949 changes in China regarding the role of women, China has remained paternalistic in it’s attitudes and social reality. The land reform, which was intended to create a more balanced economic force in marriage, was the beginning of governmental efforts to pacify women, with no real social effect. Communist China needed to address the woman question. Since women wanted more equality, and equality is doled out from the hands of those in power,capitalism was examined. The economic issues of repressed Chinese women were focused on the Land Act and the Marriage Act of 1950. The Land reform succeeded in eliminating the extended family’s material basis and hence, its potential for posing as a political threat to the regime.
Small-plots were redistributed to each family member regardless of age or sex; and land reform provisions stipulated that property would be equally divided in the case of divorce. Nonetheless, their husbands effectively controlled land allotted to women.Patriarchal familial relationships in the Confucian tradition seemed to remain intact. The Marriage Law of 1950 legalized marriage, denounced patriarchal authority in the household and granted both sexes equal rights to file for divorce. The second and most prominent element of the strategy was integrating women into economic development. Women’s employment was viewed as a prerequisite for emancipation from bourgeois structures as embodied in the patriarchal family.
Furthermore, at the core of the CCP’s strategy for political consolidation was economic reconstruction and rural development.The full participation of women was not only an ideological imperative but a pragmatic one. Third, the All-China Women’s Federation (W.F.) was established by the CCP to mobilize women for economic development and social reform. Women did succeed in gaining materialisticly. However, culture dictates whether these governmental attempts can be successful and China has proven that they were only panaceas for the real issue.
Materialistic approaches could not shadow the issue of the view in Chinese society of the role of women. In the struggle for equality, China did not go to the women to find what they believed to be the most effective answer to the issue.The paternalistic powers gave women what they thought they needed for an equalizer, not understanding the need for self-affirmation and independence. The issue the women rallied under was that men were answering the woman question. Women’s organizations were not allowed their voice, which became an ironic and frustrating endorsement to the pathetic state of women in China.
The One-Family, One-Child policy launched in 1979 has turned reproduction into an area of direct state intervention. The new regime under Deng made the neo-Malthusian observation that the economic gains from reform were barely sufficient to accommodate a population of one billion, given the natural population growth rate of 1.26 percent, much less provide a base for advanced industrial development.
The One-Family, One-Child campaigns have therefore targeted women to limit their childbearing as a patriotic duty.The family planning policy is implemented by local units of the W.F., barefoot doctors and health workers who are mainly women. Each family is visited individually by members of the local family planning committee.
After the first child, women are awarded a one-child certificate that entitles them to a number of privileges. Standard regulations concerning the type of birth control method employed require IUDs after one child, sterilization after the second one and abortion for unapproved pregnancies. The policy rests on a coercive system of sanctions and rewards.Economic sanctions include: payment of an excess child levy as compensation to the state for the cost of another child to the country; reduction in the family’s grain ration (or higher prices) for producing a surplus child; limitations on additional land for private plots and the right to collective grain in times of flood and drought; and ineligibility for promotion for four years, demotion, or reduction in wages (Anders,52). Moreover, the offending couple has to bear all expenses for medical care and education of excess children, and extra children have the lowest priority in admission to kindergarten, school and medical institutions. In contrast, one-child families are entitled to many privileges including monthly or annual cash subsidies for health or welfare until the child reaches fourteen years of age; and additional private plots from the commune.
Single children are entitled to free education, health services, and priority in admission to nurseries, schools and hospitals. Parents receive an additional subsidy to their old age pension (Croll,89). The basis for the issue is ironical again. Population growth is generally the result of a well functioning society.Improved medicine and nutrition has sustained a higher life expectancy. Internal peace in China has also contributed to the individuals living longer.
Since Communism rests on the doling out of commodities and benefits based on the number in a household, the structure of the government itself encouraged population growth. The rural resurgence produced the natural effect of having more children to help with the work and produce more. Lack of space in Urban area’s induced pressure on couples not to have more children. A satisfying compromise was never reached between the two mitigating factors of urban and rural family needs. Thus, an ineffective initiative was implemented.Due to the ineffectiveness of the law, compliance became a problem, especially in the rural areas. Women were looked to for the solution to the problem.
Forced sterilization and abortions were becoming commonplace in the regions where pressure was put on the officials to take action. Threats of violence and the loss of assets of a family were gorilla tactics used on the offenders of non-compliance. The self-esteem of Chinese women and girls was all but crushed with being looked at as worthless, since boys were highly valued in single family homes.
Girls were to be for the use of others. In attempts to save money, girls were kept away from school and provided cheap domestic labor instead. It is obvious to see the cultural battle that women in China have before them. The demands of rural agricultural labor undermine the one-child law and create conflict on many levels in both rural and urban China. While it is easy to belabor the oppression of women in China, one must look to the monumental strides that a Communist nation was able to take in the last 50 years.An unparalleled determination rested in the Communists goal for answering the woman question. The strides that were taken economically have contributed to the betterment of many Chinese women. Communist China’s intentions were to provide women with economic equalization which shook the foundation of Chinese society.
The male-dominated household was being challenged to recognize the legitimate other half. Remembering that girls were considered useless, brings to light the true strides that have advanced Chinese society in the form of legal recognition.The intra-familial relations have not evolved along the lines of recognition of the individuality and authenticity of women.
For example, the barbaric practice of foot binding, which rendered a woman powerless to be an economic contributor. And even beyond that, the twist in idealizing something so demeaning to women demonstrated that China was not ready to release their cultural bonds on women. Arranged marriages offered nothing for women in as far as emotional release.
The more estranged a husband and wife were, the more beneficial for the husbands mother. Wealthy husbands were allowed concubines while the poor men merely had affairs.This is not meant to imply that the state and the household are monolithic agents in an overdetermined system of patriarchy. Although male-domination persists, socialist ideology raised the consciousness of women to the existence of their subordinate social valuation.
Women did not receive as many work points as men for comparable labor in the agricultural commune. Women were encouraged to contribute more to farm work so that men could pursue more important forms of production. Women were recruited for political activities but then expected to fulfill their domestic responsibilities and serve the patriarchal interests of the state.
In each case there were women who attempted to challenge the privileged status of men. But then there were also women enlisted by the party-state to reorient the terms of equality under socialism. In an ironic recognition of the intersubjective synergy between the patriarchal state and household, Zhongguo Fun (Women of China) wrote the following in response to the resistance of rural women cadres to housework: Family and state are interdependent and interrelated. For this reason, in China home work and social labor are mutually geared together, and home work is just a part of social labor and plays an important part in socialist construction.
..If a woman can integrate what little she can do into the great cause of socialist construction and if she has the ideal of working for the happiness of future generations, she would be a noble person, a woman of benefit to the masses, a woman of communist morality (Anders,46). Women in China must still adhere to the traditional roles set about by their culture.The Communist Revolution provided the examination of the roles of women in China and implemented important steps toward the recognition of their legitimacy. Rightly so, Chinese feminists are not satisfied with their place in society and campaign for a new and better understanding of the value of women in society.
Bibliography Andors, Phyllis. The Unfinished Liberation of Chinese Women. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983. Croll, Elisabeth.Chinese Women Since Mao. Armonk: M.E.