Evolution of China’s Gender Relations in Jung Chang’s Wild Swans

2047 Words Oct 8th, 2008 9 Pages
From Servants of Men to Soldiers of the State:
Evolution of China’s Gender Relations in Jung Chang’s Wild Swans

Christina Ku (Student ID: 050788207)
Yunxiang Gao
HST 555: Section II: History of Modern China I (1644-1949)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007.

As China faced new international pressures and the change to a communist society, gender relations transformed women from servants of men to full independent workers, who finally became soldiers of the communist state. In Jung Chang’s novel, Wild Swans, the three women – grandmother Yu-Fang, mother Bao-Qin and daughter Jung Chang – exemplify the expected gender roles of each generation. I will argue that Confucian society presented few economic opportunities for women to support
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Furthermore, instead of arranged marriages that only benefited the patriarchal head, intellectuals pushed for marriages based on love which would create happy and productive citizens . In addition, based on her mother’s experience, Bao Qin rejects arranged marriages and intends to only marry for love . After hearing of two concubines who drug Cousin Hu’s mother to feign adultery and gain the favour of her husband, Bao Qin is enraged by the historic “powerlessness of women, [the] barbarity of age-old customs, cloaked in tradition .” With the broad shift from tradition as well as her own personal experience, Bao Qin rejects traditional gender roles and seeks to create her own. Furthermore, as China became divided into separate spheres of influence and opened to international markets, British and American industrialization brought new ideas of opportunities for women, challenging established gender relations . With new economic opportunities and education, women could become self-reliant, broadening their choices and their role in society. Consequently, after disobeying her parents’ command to attend Mr. Liu’s funeral, Bao Qin was able to support herself by enrolling in a new teacher training department . Reducing patriarchal control, industrialization allowed children to head to schools and factories, no longer needing to rely on their parents for education and work . As a result, while foreign

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