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For over a thousand years, Chinese society has persisted in binding the feet of young girls to make them appear smaller. With this Chinese torture specifically exempt working plebeians, the children of high status families were not spared, and were thus left to languish at home. This painful form of torture, which often left girls with stunted and maimed feet, was glorified as the "golden lotus", and girls with such feet were often the object of lust and eroticism; a simple harem fantasy for some, true anatomical deformation for others.

One of the major characteristics of the status of women in China earlier this century is the intensity of the magico-religious character assigned to them, which isolates them from the society. Also, the principle of separation of the sexes, that is to say, the sexual taboo, is understood and applied with extreme rigor. From the age of six or seven, the girl is separated from the boys of her age and even her brothers who no longer can have casual interactions with them. The result is that there is no common meal for the whole family, both sexes cannot sit together at the same table.

This principle gives women certain privileges. Crimes committed upon women by men are not taken lightly. The code allows imprisonment to women only for the most serious crimes. For lesser crimes, they are given to the husband or head of household who is held responsible. When they are sentenced to caning, punishment is applied to their clothing, not skin.

Similarities exist, or rather existed between the Chinese family and the Roman family. As the bonds in the Chinese family are very strong, it absorbs much of the woman's activities. Although he attends sacrifices celebrated with her parents, her activities revolve primarily around the domestic worship of her husband. Although the fate of the girl is unenviable, and although married women, by law, are very dependent on their husbands, marriage and especially motherhood have their own singular importance. It thereby acquires a dignity that is offset by the higher dignity of the husband but it is clear that she has authority over the whole house.

The matrimonial regime is based on monogamy, except for the Emperor, who can have three wives. The People's Republic has long claimed a policy of promoting women to positions of responsibility, but attitudes have not changed much over the past era. Many interventionist measures for them were actually implemented. The advancement of women was a great propaganda theme: the first law proclaimed by the new socialist regime in 1950 was the Marriage Act, which emancipated woman of the heavy yoke of the father and husband. The text prohibits arranged marriages, demands the free consent of the spouses and the allows the right to divorce. Thereafter, throughout the process of collectivization, the role of women and use their skills to work were put forward by propaganda, strengthened by access to healthcare and contraception.

In the thirteenth century, the Chinese population already numbered 100 million. When Mao Zedong was elected President in October 1949, he inherited 550 million subjects.

Tags: Mao Zedong, role of women in China, Chinese economy

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