In the two last Centuries, French women and Chinese ones have realized, little by little, their emancipation. What are the matrixes which have participated to the positive evolution of the condition of the Chinese and French women? Under which form has it taken place, and at which moments in the history? Have they been a success or a failure? What are the differences between France and China in the way to the women's emancipation? First of all, it is necessary to recall the definition of feminism: The term itself appeared in 1874 in France, when Charles FOURIER, a French socialist philosopher used it for the first time. But actually, the feminist movement was born before that that is to say during the French Revolution.
Feminism is a movement which claims the recognition and the extension of women rights in the society. It is derived from sociological theories (birth of « Gender Studies » in the U.S), political movements (such as socialism especially) and from moral philosophies concerning the situation of women in their political, economical and social context. As a social movement, feminism has got as main purposes the struggle against the sexual discrimination, the promotion of women rights in the civil society and the defense of their interests.
We can notice that both gender studies and feminism movements have always been lead by and for women principally, which is not by chance. Feminists demand the recognition of women as real individuals, independent and able to manage their own lives by themselves. In short, feminism can be sum up in the famous sentence of Simone de Beauvoir.
[...] This is exactly these miserable conditions which going to lead, from the very end of the Nineteenth Century, but above all at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, to the creation of women organizations and movements which aim was to change radically the traditional role and status assigned to females in both the society and family. What are the origins of the respective women movements in China and in France? What have been their means and which form did they take? [...]
[...] First of all, we will recall the place of women in the respective French and Chinese societies before the late nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Then, we will see how women have succeeded to realize their emancipation in both countries. Then, we will examine if this one has been a success or a failure, and we will see the limits of the women's emancipation in both countries. Before the Twentieth Century, women in both France and China (like in all the countries in the world at that era) were regarded as completely inferior as men in every field. [...]
[...] Despite the crush and deception of feminist movements after the republican revolution in 1911, these ones had however succeeded in the rising, for the very first time, of Chinese women in the public and political spheres, which constituted a real improvement in the society at that era. It seemed now impossible to come back, because, despite everything, the traditional social order had been in reality shaken. Indeed, in 1919, a new revolution gave the opportunity to women to express themselves once again : the May Fourth Movement gave the feminist movement a new birth. [...]
[...] While Chinese women in their capacities as mothers and daughters-in-law did hold any kind of power it was only over the women of the family. Unmarried daughters could be still selling by their family as concubines or prostitutes, and, of course, the custom of child bride was more common among the poorest classes in the rural areas than among the richer ones. Also, in general, polygamy was very spread among the population, while in France, given that the marriage was a religious act, polygamy was totally forbidden. [...]
[...] Also, Mao's regime proclaimed many familial laws : the new marriage laws gave women, for the first time in all the Chinese history, the rights of property thanks to the land reform, of inheritance, of marriage based on whole free love, the right for the widows to remarry, and women were allowed to divorce, which became a simple matter of registration regarding to the law. A National Women's Federation was created, issued from the three first Communist Committees. In 1950, in Shanghai for instance of the divorces were initiated by women From 1950 to 1953, the CCP made everything to enforce marriage law : it organized exhibitions, distributed numerous tracks among the population, especially in the countryside. [...]
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