“Accommodating Sages”: Gender Separation in Social Practice

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:
“Accommodating Sages”: Gender Separation in Social Practice

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The “ethnographic” evidence provided by criminal cases confirms official perceptions of widespread transgressions of norms of gender separation. Even when meaningful spatial distinctions between inner and outer were possible, they were rarely interpreted in the rigid manner of the morality tracts: the seclusion of women was relative, not absolute. Yet customs of family and village sociability as they are depicted in case records typically appear to have sanctioned friendly, casual interactions and exchanges of conversation between relatives outside the immediate family and neighbors of villagers. Most assault and harassment victims were assailed not by strangers but by men that they knew, often neighbors or relatives. Expectations about gender etiquette varied from one community to the next and from person to person.

Keywords: gender separation; morality tracts; women's seclusion; village sociability; sexual assault; gender etiquette

Chapter.  4710 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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