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Employment of Women in Chinese Cultures

Half the Sky

Edited by Cherlyn Skromme Granrose

Examining the employment lives of Chinese women living under different government systems at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the contributors to this volume present an overview of factors affecting the employment status of women. The volume includes chapters on the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – nations that have common Chinese cultural experiences but very different economic systems and government structures.
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Chapter 2: Images of Women and Government in the Chinese Cultural Heritage: A Brief Overview

Cherlyn Skromme Granrose


Cherlyn Skromme Granrose During the ancient dynasties that ruled various groups of Chinese people before the twentieth century, a feudalistic, patriarchal tradition influenced by the teachings of Lao Tse, Confucius, Buddha and the Legalist scholars dominated the lives of most women (Stockwell, 1993). This tradition spread with the migration of Chinese Han and non-Han people throughout many countries in Asia and became the controlling cultural force in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This brief chapter explores the legacy of Chinese Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist and Legalist traditions for the role of government and the status of women in Chinese society. It focuses on the common cultural heritage of the people so that the effects of specific governmental structure and policies can be seen more clearly in the following chapters addressing the status of women in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and PRC. Since there are many sects or forms of each of these traditions, only the shared most central teachings will be described, supplemented by quotes when they are available from a primary source. THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN TAOISM The animist principle of emphasizing harmony with the natural order of Mother Earth has been extant in China from earliest recorded time. This tradition also includes ideas that spirits inhabit places and things, and that spirits of the deceased could influence daily life among the living. These ideas were formalized into a more structured and widespread religious...

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