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Gender Roles & Chinese Women

One of the problems in the social sciences is that people look to the social sciences for the same kinds of answers about people that physical sciences provide about atoms or chemicals. This does not take into account the fact that human beings are affected by an incredible diversity of family, cultural, and other environmental influences that impact their behavior. Even in one society, people live in different regions, belong to different classes, and operate under unique value systems. Still, there may be some generalities that are possible. The intent in this paper is to explore gender roles for women in China, making the argument that those roles have some general parameters, although they are affected by location, age, and historical era.

The ethnographies provided views of women and their roles in different regions of China, including both mainland China and Taiwan, in rural and urban areas, and in different historical eras. The focal points of the ethnographies also varied. For example, Yan (1996) emphasized gift-giving networks in a village, while Wolf (1968) provided an intensified examination of one family. One of the movies focused on well-digging in a rural area and other village activities (Wu, 1983). There was variation in the amount of detail provided about specific aspects of male and female gender roles.

Let's look at each of these environments first for information about gender roles. First, the film "The Old Well" provided a good look at roles for husbands and wives. Essentially, the wife was responsible for household matters, such as cooking, but was not expected to take a strong stance in the public world. She seemed to have less status than her husband and served him, rather than him serving her. The husband, on the other hand, was expected to participate in the public activity of well-digging on behalf of his family. He was the representative to the village and needed to fulfill his function f...

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Gender Roles & Chinese Women. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:58, June 15, 2019, from