Confucianism and Women: A Philosophical Interpretation
SUNY Press, 2012 - 210 pages
Confucianism and Women argues that Confucian philosophy—often criticized as misogynistic and patriarchal—is not inherently sexist. Although historically bound up with oppressive practices, Confucianism contains much that can promote an ethic of gender parity. Attacks on Confucianism for gender oppression have marked China’s modern period, beginning with the May Fourth Movement of 1919 and reaching prominence during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The West has also readily characterized Confucianism as a foundation of Chinese women’s oppression. Author Li-Hsiang Lisa Rosenlee challenges readers to consider the culture within which Confucianism has functioned and to explore what Confucian thought might mean for women and feminism.
She begins the work by clarifying the intellectual tradition of Confucianism and discussing the importance of the Confucian cultural categories yin-yang and nei-wai (inner-outer) for gender ethics. In addition, the Chinese tradition of biographies of virtuous women and books of instruction by and for women is shown to provide a Confucian construction of gender. Practices such as widow chastity, footbinding, and concubinage are discussed in light of Confucian ethics and Chinese history. Ultimately, Rosenlee lays a foundation for a future construction of Confucian feminism as an alternative ethical ground for women’s liberation.
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2 CONFUCIANISM CHINESENESS AND REN VIRTUOUS PERSONHOOD
3 YINYANG GENDER ATTRIBUTES AND COMPLEMENTARITY
4 NEIWAI GENDER DISTINCTIONS AND RITUAL PROPRIETY
5 DIDACTIC TEXTS FOR WOMEN AND THE WOMANLY SPHERE OF NEI
6 CHINESE SEXISM AND CONFUCIANISM
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afﬁrm ancestor worship ancient Ban Zhao’s barbarians boundary century BCE chapter China Chinese women Chunqiu fanlu civil Classics concept Confucian Confucian feminism Confucius correlation cosmology cultural Daoism deﬁned deﬁnitely discourse dynasty early emperor Empress ethical female literacy feminine feminism feminist ﬁdelity ﬁeld ﬁlial piety ﬁve footbinding gender propriety hence hierarchical human husband Ibid imperial court junzi Legge Lienuzhuan Liji literary learning marriage Mencius moral mother Mozi nei-wai distinction Nujie ofﬁcial one’s person personhood political practice of footbinding proper qian Qing Qing periods Raphals realm reﬂected remarriage rites ritual propriety Ru learning Ru’s scholars sexist Shijing Shujing signiﬁes Song speciﬁc sphere talent Tang term texts theory tradition virtue ethics virtue of ﬁlial virtue of ren virtuous women Western widow chastity widowhood wife woman women’s biographies words wuxing Xunzi Yijing yin and yang yin-yang yin-yang binary yinyang wuxing Yuan Zhao Zhou Zhu Xi Zhuangzi Zuozhuan