chapter  13
32 Pages

Gender Issues in the Transition out of Socialism

WithChristopher J. Smith

The 1949 revolution and Maoist state socialism demanded that considerations of politics and class relationships be privileged in the effort to transform Chinese society. The state identifies women as the main agents responsible for patrolling general standards of sexual morality and family order. The gains since 1949 are used to co-opt women and divert attention away from gender issues. In feudal China, the patriarchal family system went hand in hand with arranged marriages, male chauvinism, and indifference to women's wants and feelings. The Women's Law was to be implemented amid publicity campaigns; special programs on, about, and for women were arranged; and specific cases in which the laws were broken were publicized. The 1949 communist takeover certainly brought changes to the traditional attitudes and behaviors toward Chinese women. It is equally true, however, that events since 1978 illustrate other dramatic changes.