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Authors: Chiang, Yung-ching
Contributors: 教育系
Date: 1977
Issue Date: 2018-10-23 17:10:54 (UTC+8)
Abstract: The women's rights movement in modern China began in the late nineteenth century, that is, after the first Sino-Japanese War and before the Hundred Days' Reform, during 1894-1898. Itconcerned two main issues: the anti-footbinding movement and the promotion of women's schools. Both of these questions had been raised before, but it was during this period that concerted movements developed and they became controversial issues. Those associated with these movements were all intimately concerned with the reform movement. At first, K'ang Yu-wei attempted to form an anti-footbinding society in Kuangtung, but failed. Later, his brother K'ang Kuang-jen (one of the Six Martyrs of the Hundred Days' Reform) succeeded in establishing one. (1) In June 1897, reformers such as Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, Wang K'ang-nien, Mai Meng-hua, K'ang Kuang-jen and T'an Ssu-t'ung founded an anti-footbinding society in Shanghai. This society was initiated by the Shih-wu pao [Journal of Current Affairs] and later sponsored by the Ta-t'ung i-shu chö [Ta-t'ung Bureau for Translating Foreign Books]. (2) At that time, the Shih-wu pao, in order to promote the anti-footbinding movement, published "An Introduction to the Anti-footbinding Society" and "Concise Regulations Governing the Newly Established Anti-footbinding Society." (3) Shortly, many joined the society, and chapters of the society were established at many places. (4) The anti-footbinding movement was only the forerunner of the reform movement, the ultimate aim of which was the promotion of women's schools. (5) In the same year, in his essay "Pien-fa t'ung i" [A General Discussion on Reforms], Liang Ch'i-ch'ao said: "So long as the practice of footbinding continues, women's schools cannot be established." (6) The aim of establishing women's schools was to promote women's education as a means to achieve women's economic independence, and make the people strong and the country powerful. A secondary aim was to use women's schools to cultivate women to be good wives and virtuous mothers, but not the [traditional] type — "having no talents is a virtue for a woman." The reformers wanted women to be able to assume maternal responsibilities. They believed that "the rectification of the people's hearts and the multiplication of men of talents" had to begin with child education, that the foundation of child education rested on maternal education, and that the foundation of maternal education rested on women's education. It was also stressed that the development of women's schools would constitute the basis for the strengthening of the nation and the preservation of the race. To summarize the ideas put forward at the time, we can turn to Liang Ch'i-ch'ao's "Ch'ang she nö-hsöeh-t'ang ch'i" [A Statement concerning the Proposal for the Establishment of Women's Schools], published in 1897: "[A good woman] is one who can assist her husband, teach her children, manage her household, and bring benefit to her people. When such a womanly way is in the ascendance and families live in virtue, wouldn't it be good!" He also noted that "The United States is prosperous because American men and women enjoy equal rights, and Japan is strong because it has numerous women's schools. The basis for a powerful nation and an intelligent people is none other than this."
Relation: CHINESE STUDIES IN HISTORY, 10(4), 34-72
Data Type: article
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