Role of Women in the Chinese Society - Books Review

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To the storm by Daiyun Yue

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Women in China during the Chinese Revolution played a significant role in the countrys administration, education and fighting for the respect of human rights. Different literature shows how different women participated in the liberation of the country from tyrants in which people were persecuted and denied basic human rights and freedom. To the storm by Daiyun Yue and Caroline Wakeman extensively shows the participation of Daiyun Yue in the liberalization of the country. The Chinese intellectual woman has been unrivaled in the participation of the country transformation and battles for equal rights and freedoms. Through the novel To the storm Daiyun Yue can expose the extent to which Chinese women have played a role in the liberalization of the country as well as the participation of Chinese women in the development of the country.

Chinese women have sacrificed their families and colleagues just like in the case if Daiyun Yue To the Storm which highlights how Daiyun and her accomplices were condemned in the fight for freedom of other women and the people of China during Mao`s tyrant rule. In her college days, Daiyun Yue championed for the creation of a literary magazine for the college after reading many western books. This move by Daiyun Yue brought her into conflict with the authorities, and it was the beginning of a long conflict with the authorities as she fought for what she believed in. Through western books and literature materials, Daiyun Yue was motivated and enlightened which increased her conviction on her course to the end. Dayun Yue after college she was able to join the Communist party underground democratic youth league through which she was able to play a significant role in liberating Beijing. This act of courage did show that intelligent women in the Chinese community can play a significant role in the development of democracy and stamping out tyranny. Daiyun Yue represents the Chinese women who have tried to conquer men in the world of politics by proving to be a worthy leader during the liberation of Beijing. The role of women in the community at large should not be underplayed, but instead, women should be given opportunities in administrative and political leadership positions. Daiyun Yue represented the Chinese intellectual women and students at Prague during the second world student congress in 1950 which was a significant score for the women in China and all those aspiring leadership. Daiyun Yue is not only depicted as a leader but also motivated women to rise and seek representation and equal position as men.

In 1951 and 1952 Dayun Yue played a significant role in the country side in China through championing for land reforms. The land is a sensitive topic not only in China but across the world, and the activities of women such as Dayun Yue should be recommended. In education, Dayun Yue was able to graduate from Beida, and she was made a faculty member in the literature department which was an additional crowning of the Chinese women.1 Dayun Yue participation in the revolution and her loyalty to Chairman Mao also should be recognized as a significant fete for the Chinese intellectual woman. Daiyun Yue was able to teach Chinese history and also help in many other activities in Beida which encouraged other women also to rise and not feel intimidated in a world dominated by men. When Daiyun Yue started championing for a literary magazine in the Chinese institution, she was persecuted by the authorities. However, in the show off her strength and conviction for justice Daiyun Yue did not give up and in the process, she was branded as a rightist, and she was relieved of her teaching duties. Daiyun Yue was sent to the countryside to work and live with the peasants for two years for championing for Cultural Revolution in China. Despite the hardships that Daiyun Yue went through during Chinas most turbulent time, she was able to make it through which is a significant encouragement to intellectual women in China and the world as a whole.

The death of woman Wang by Jonathan Spence

The death of the woman Wang is a detailed history of the Chinese people in the 16th and the 17th century. Women during this time played a significant role in the family and the community in general. The story of widows is highly highlighted in the death of woman Wang which depicted the widows as hardworking and also good in raising up their sons. The sons of the widows were good at farm work, and they could also educate their sons to do well in their examinations. Women in this era in Chinese history played a significant role in the development of the country as well as agricultural sustainability. The biggest fete amongst the Chinese women at this time was educating their sons to do well in the provincial level chu-jen examination. The death of woman Wang gives a chronological account of the achievement of the widows and their contribution to the Chinese history and development at this time. In the entire book by Jonathan Spence women are not treated as equivalents of men as they are seen as possessions. However, the modern Chinese women today have been educated and can stand alone instead of depending so much on men.2

Jonathan Spence seeks to elaborate the practices and roles of different gender groups in the land of Tan-cheng. After the death of a husband, women were expected to remarry and submit to another man. Remarrying could reduce the chances of the children of the dead husband chances of attaining prestigious leadership positions and working for the government. However, the widow His-Liu was able to shun this tradition. The sole purpose of refusing to get remarried was to secure the future for her sons and ensure that the society did not look down upon her. Shunning the retrogressive tradition of widows remarrying made His-Liu and example to all the women in China who are today hindered from achieving great things due to customary traditions which instill fear and also create inferiority amongst women. His-Liu was able to stand for her sons even when the community scorned her for being different, and she was able to contribute to the success of her sons who passed the imperial exams to work for the government. Despite the challenges of the social norms and laws established by the mandate of heaven as described by Jonathan Spence who was the top officials in the government, His-Liu was able to overcome socially imposed norms to bring up noble sons.

Another example of the role of women in Tan-cheng country is depicted through the character woman Wong. Woman Wong escapes her husband to lead an adulterous life but returns only to meet her death. Jonathan Spence depicts that women had little choice in Tan-cheng country as the law had them completely under their husband. Woman Wong death could have been avoided, but her husband sealed that fate for her. The character of a woman in the book is depicted as courageous, chaste, death to protect herself and her family from humiliation in cases of abuse and tenacity. Despite all the adversity faced by women at the time. The Widow His-Liu is a good example to all women when she can withstand all the negative social morals to protect her family and her son's reputation. A woman in the Tan-cheng country goes through many tribulations to protect her reputation and also take care of the household. The fate of a woman is largely tied to the fate of the husband, and the death of a husband lives a woman vulnerable. To protect the family in the many cultures, women could remarry which was a sign of weakness and despair. However, in the death of woman Wang, a woman is strong enough to take away her life to protect her reputation. Jonathan Spence shows that a woman can stand and be recognized by depicting the triumph of His-Liu, the widow who stands for her sons.

Red Star over China

In "Red Star over China" Edgar Snow depicts women as having equal rights as men during the China revolution. Edgar notes that most of the workers in the revolution worked together with their wives as factory workers or as party functionaries. Edgar notes that most of the women working for the revolution were young and between age eighteen and twenty. Most of the women were married to the red army soldiers who were at the battle front and played a significant role in providing supplies and giving their husbands in the battle fronts psychological support all through the revolution. The Chinese revolutionaries ensured that there was no wage discrimination against women. Edgar Snow in Red Star over China shows that during the Chinese revolution women played a significant role in the communist army activities.

Conclusion and synthesis

The three books authors depict different pictures over time on the role of women in the Chinese society. In the death of woman Wong by Jonathan Spence women were discriminated against by the community and the legal system that was in place and made women a possession for men. Few women like His-Liu could withstand the community discrimination for not fitting in the retrogressive social norms by refusing to remarry to take care of her sons. On the other hand, women in the same society could commit suicide to evade rape and forced marriages after their husbands passed away. However, in the Red Star over China and to the storm women are depicted as champions for freedom and liberation of the people. Women during the Chinese revolution occupied prestigious positions in the communist party, and they championed for equal treatment of women.


Cass, Victoria B. The Journal of Asian Studies 39, no. 3 (1980): 550-52. doi:10.2307/2054689.

Snow, Edgar. 1968. Red star over China.

Yue, D., & Wakeman, C. (1987). To the Storm: The Odyssey of a Revolutionary Chinese Woman. Univ of California Press.

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