Chapter

Dangerous Males, Vulnerable Males, and Polluted Males: The Regulation of Masculinity in Qing Dynasty Law

Matthew H. Sommer

in Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520211032
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935303 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520211032.003.0003
Dangerous Males, Vulnerable Males, and Polluted Males: The Regulation of Masculinity in Qing Dynasty Law

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This chapter examines how Qing jurists imagined masculinity and male sexual behavior in the larger context of defending familial order. The High Qing regulation of sexuality aimed to defend a Confucian vision of family-based order against the threat of men who were excluded from that order. The principal target of Qing efforts to regulate male sexual conduct was the marginal man who stood outside of (and presumably opposed to) the family-based social and moral order that underpinned the imperial state. In addition, the judicial constructs of the Qing dynasty, and especially its attempts to regulate sexuality, has to be understood against a social background in which men outnumbered women, so that patriarchal stability was perceived as under constant threat from a crowd of rogue males at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale. The household of the normative male, that microcosm of imperial order, was under siege; the purpose of law was to strengthen its defense.

Keywords: sexuality; Qing dynasty; Confucian vision; Qing jurists; patriarchal stability

Chapter.  10621 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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