Author

Jennifer Hoag

Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Leadership Studies

Abstract

Chinese women have been historically oppressed. Female children have been killed. Women's feet have been bound. They have denied access to education. Female oppression is part of Chinese tradition which is the most powerful influence in China. Economic independence and increased education have lead women to mobilize. This paper asserts that this mobilization has created a feminist movement which in turn is causing a paradigm shift in the way Chinese view women.

Great change has taken place in China in the last century. The image of women has changed from that of a commodity that is not to be seen to a person who has the right to work, own property and choose her marriage partner. The Chinese have experienced revolution, differing forms of government, multiple social movements and a cultural paradigm shift. The change is felt differently depending on geographic location and social class. The upper class has set the standard throughout history beginning with foot binding through its abolition. In doing so they are leaders.

Two trends, increased economic necessity and increased education, are leadership initiators for the Chinese because they expanding the idea of "can". When women entered the work force and received increased education their confidence, ability to be self-sufficient, sense of community, and number of options increased. Women mobilized and a feminist movement began. This movement has made great progress by dramatically increasing women's rights during this century. This feminist movement has caused a paradigm shift in the way that Chinese view and value women.

As the 'iron rice bowl' broke the movement has and is experiencing a backlash. Women are being pressured back into the home by traditional Chinese social control. At the same time, across the China education is increasing, access to information is increasing, and overall economic level of the population is improving. Though presently the movement appears to be in a slump, all the forces that initiated the movement to begin with are on the rise. In addition there are people in China who are acting as leaders by establishing new patterns in both the public and private sectors. The stage is being set for another rise is activism.

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