. Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and Gender Difference

Gail Hershatter

in Women in China's Long Twentieth Century

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780520098565
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520916128 | DOI:
. Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and Gender Difference

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China has long been portrayed by Chinese and foreigners both as the home of a thoroughly entrenched patriarchal family system and as a place where the 1949 revolution and the post-Mao reforms massively rearranged marriage, family, and affective life. This chapter introduces nuance and local variation into this picture, and redraws some sections of it altogether. Patriarchy and gender hierarchy are locally variable, mediated by other sorts of ties, and at the same time extremely adaptable to the successive environments of revolution and reform, flourishing in new venues even as the old ones disappear. Revolution and reform from the final years of the Qing dynasty to the present have been both corrosive and preservative of family arrangements. Across the long twentieth century, key meanings of modernity have been worked out in public discussions — official, intellectual, pop-cultural, and overlapping — about marriage, family, sexuality, and gender difference.

Keywords: Qing dynasty; modernity; sexuality; gender difference; patriarchy; marriage

Chapter.  18733 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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