Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Women in Chinese Religions

  • Mayfair YangEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9023

In traditional Chinese culture, or late imperial times before modernity in the early twentieth century, the gender division of labor had men in the public sphere, working in the fields, pursuing trade, or sometimes serving in bureaucratic office. The vast majority of Chinese women were illiterate, and they worked in the domestic sphere, engaged in child-raising and housework. Women could not inherit property nor sit for the imperial examinations that would endow only men with official positions in the state bureaucracy. In the patriarchal kinship system, the birth of a girl was a great disappointment, as women could transmit neither kinship identity nor property to their children, and they could never go out into the public sphere and bring fame or wealth to their family or lineage. Instead, women were married out to live with their husband’s family, thus benefiting another lineage with their labor and childbirth. The dominant Confucian tradition enjoined women to be self-effacing,...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious Studies and Department of East Asian StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA