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Women in Mao’s China- What was life like prior to 1949 

Traditional views� China was a patriarchal (male dominated) society.� Obedience to authority was expected of all citizens.� This idea stemmed from Confucius.San gang� The three rules which brought about harmony according to Confucius.1. Loyalty of ministers to the Emperor2. Respect of children for their parents3. Obedience of wives to their husbandsWhat did this mean?� As daughters women owed obedience to their fathers.� As wives and widows they owed obedience to their husbands, eldest sons and even brothers-in-law.� It had become traditional for women to be discriminated against.Arranged marriages� Arranged marriages were common.� Families would pay a dowry to the man’s family.� Rich men would also keep concubines as well as wives.Women’s rights� Under the rule of warlords women were not given the right to vote.� The practise of foot binding was gradually beginning to disappear in the early 20th century.Early changes made by the Communists� In the 1930s the communists made it illegal to buy wives and outlawed arranged marriages.� (Mao had refused to go through with his own arranged marriage in 1914 which he later used as evidence for his dislike of a corrupt social system which used women as commodities).� Divorce was made easier.� Women were given the right to vote.� Mao encouraged more women to take leading roles in the Party.

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