Jiling. Ershi shiji Zhongguo nüxing fazhan shilun (A Discussion of the
Historical Development of Women
This book traces the origins of the concept of equality between men and women, yet focuses principally on its development and expansion during the twentieth century. On the one hand, the book looks at the underlying theoretical framework for gender equality; on the other hand, it describes practical measures taken towards the realization of equality between the sexes in society.
The author’s main hypothesis is that women’s development and women’s liberation respectively are based on the idea of equality between men and women. She concludes that true equality has been finally realized under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, and claims the socialist establishment of public ownership after the founding of the People’s Republic to be one of the most important measures for its realization.
author of the book, Lin Jiling, is a sociologist and the Vice Dean of
Lin Jiling does not explicitly explain her methodology or approach to research. She mainly uses primary sources like traditional canons on women, and letters or articles of Republican-era Chinese intellectuals discussing ideas on women.
book is divided into five chapters: The first chapter examines the
the development of the concept of gender, starting with a description
gender-unequal identities and customs in traditional
The second chapter is about the expansion of the idea of equality between men and women at the end of the Qing dynasty, focusing on the time from the Hundred Days’ Reform in 1898 until the beginning of the Republic of China. In particular, the chapter examines changes in the concepts of female virtue and beauty; valuing learned women over uneducated ones and natural feet over bound ones; the emergence of a social group of intellectual women, and the gradual transformation of the institutions of marriage and education. Finally, Lin also mentions the women’s suffrage movement during the Xinhai revolution of 1911.
The third chapter deals with theoretical ideas about, and concrete measures for, women’s liberation during the New Culture Movement. Lin describes intense debates about traditional female gender identity, which underwent sharp criticism by the intellectuals involved in the New Culture Movement and the May Fourth Movement of 1919 respectively. Moreover, these scholars promoted new and alternative paths for women, which suggested concrete educational and law-related steps for their realization. Various women’s magazines were founded to build a platform for discussion and to spread new ideas about gender. At last, Lin points out the early Chinese Marxists’ perspective on women’s problems.
chapter four, the author investigates the development of the
movement during the period of the New Democratic Revolution period. She
discusses how equality between men and women was interpreted according
Chinese Communists’ interpretation of Marx. This includes
descriptions of how
equality was actually practiced in the Communist-controlled areas or
how the women there executed supportive roles during the War of
five discusses the national policy of equality between men and women in
People’s Republic of
publication is supplemented by few but interesting tables, e.g. a list
the names of women’s schools of all provinces between 1898
and 1910, of all
women’s magazines between 1902 and 1912, and of female
Jiling’s publication provides the reader with a good overview
of the major
developments in the field of ideas as well as on concrete steps taken
to women’s liberation.
Unfortunately, she does
not explore the period after