Adultery, Incest, and the Multiple Meanings of Patriarchy

Janet M. Theiss

in Disgraceful Matters

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780520240339
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930667 | DOI:
Adultery, Incest, and the Multiple Meanings of Patriarchy

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Analysis of law and ritual policy affirms that the primacy of filial piety as the relevant paradigm of loyalty and hierarchy was being severely challenged by the paradigm of female chastity as loyal and obedient service to the family and the Qing political order. The statecraft discourse was rife with the problems of defining, enforcing, and awarding female chastity. Yet, the state's working definition of patriarchy remained inconsistent. The state's treatment of female suicide itself straddled a widening fissure between marital and generational notions of patriarchy. As the Yongzheng Emperor observed in his edict banning widow suicide, it was a narrow maritally defined notion of chastity that fueled the widow suicide phenomenon to the detriment of the larger family order.

Keywords: ritual policy; filial piety; Qing political order; female chastity; female suicide; widow suicide

Chapter.  8683 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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