Lu Xun and the Position of Women in Chinese Society - Essay Sample

Published: 2021-08-10
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Harvey Mudd College
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Lu Xun is known to be one of Chinas most influential contemporary writers. His diverse literary works have largely driven by social change especially in the Chinese traditions and political landscape. Xun has written numerous works which have been inspired by other western writers such as Henrik Ibsen and translated to other languages. A critical review of his journals reveals that he is a staunch critic of the old Chinese tradition, culture, and history that has traditionally crippled womens freedom. Xuns literary style of writing is a mix of traditional, classical Chinese and contemporary western technique. His literary works fiercely fight against worthless old Chinese traditions and advocate for the advanced aspects western thoughts. Xuns short stories on social matters are attributed to realism, symbolic realism, satiric realism and symbolism which he uses to address social reality. Some sinologists have also realized thatthe objective representation of social reality was not a value that inspired Lu Xun as Fokkema (1977 p.91) puts it. Also, Xuns style of writing, in some way, does not carry the ideals of realism or naturalism but envisions a future Chinese spectrum that desires freedom of expression for womenfolk. He mentions thatI only wish that as people say, I had written about a period in the past, but I fear what I saw was not the past but the future even as much as from twenty to thirty years from now. (Lu 2003a p.317). According to Lu Xun, women are entrusted with many roles in the community, but still, they cannot freely voice their opinion in the society. In his selected stories Lu Xun expresses how women have continued to be looked down upon (Xun, 1972b).

Jane flax notion of gender relation of feminism theory demonstrates how men and women relate and the inability of women to voice their opinion in the society. Ideally speaking women's social class in the society have never been recognized to the expected standards. This has led to the existence of a gap of relation in the society between women and their male counterparts. Various women unions have made many attempts for the fight for the rights of women in the society, but all this have always been in vain. Moreover, necessary efforts have been acted by this women group, but still, women are viewed as being inferior to men in the society.

Do women have the inability to voice their opinion?

The answer to this question, in a Chinese context of tradition, is yes. This is because; the inability of women to voice them their opinion in the society is a wide known notion among the current and the gone generation. Furthermore, it is women themselves who admit that they cannot overcome men. This does not occur just between men and women but also among the women themselves (Xun 1972b). Apart from this most of the women in the society harbor a belief that they must be under the leadership of men. Ideally speaking when such an attitude is already bestowed upon women, they will never be empowered to advocate for equality in the society. Lu Xun has supported my opinion. In his essay "What Happens After Nora Leaves Home," Xun supports the notion indicating that the real reason behind the societal confinement is the lack of expression is due to their status in the society. Xun, therefore, calls for women to escape the trap that prevents them from speaking and form a collective revolution or resistance to change that kind of social setup. He suggests that what the Chinese Nora needs to do after leaving home is to survive: To put it blatantly, what she needs is money (Xun 1923c).

He further explains that the reason for the restriction of women expression is enhanced further through respective locations, time and generation. He expresses this by attempting to show how women struggle to make ends meet in the society in which they live. He highlights the lack of change of the Chinese women has when dealing with the American culture (Xun 1997b). In his essay My View on Chastity, Xun criticizes the pressure put on young Chinese women as far as chastity is concerned and blames the societal prescription on men saying that Men are growing more degenerate every day (Xun 1972b p.20) and have corrupted the morality channels in the Chinese context. This limits womens ability to voice their opinions against this practice.

The womens image is best described as one in a fable position. Women in most of the histories are a portrayed to belong in the lower class in the society. In Lu Xun's book the new years sacrifice he has expressed women to be carrying economic activities related to poverty such as peasantry or farming. By expressing such views, Lu Xun has indicated the social class differences that exist for women. He further states that a typical man in China has got more respect that he provides for a woman. The equality is shared as one migrated from one social status to another, therefore, in summary, women are just treated as a mere shadow of mens existence in China. He goes on to narrate about Hsiang Lin's wife and how she was forced into a marriage unwillingly without considering her opinion about it after which She shook her head, cast down her eyes and said no more (Xun 1972b). According to Lupri, Eugene and Hartly, in their respective books on women liberalization, they indicate that the role of women has been gradually changing from a worse position to an improved condition (Eugene 1983 & Hartly 1914). Their concepts and perception of the low social status of women have not diverged much from Lu Xun argument. Ideally both their arguments are centered on one approach.

Lu-Xun further addresses the relationship between women and women. He wants to find out whether the inability of women to expresses their opinion in the society has anything to do with the low-class position of women. After proper examination and conducting serious studies, Lu Xan indicates that women to women relationships do not have anything to do with their low-class status in the society since they treat each other with respect. Given the duration that Lu Xun developed his stories, he has written them by and tradition of the affected society. As such, before the communist parties gender equality ideals; many women were treated as a mere token, for instance, for marriage or men's dolls or property for enjoyment. Mens dominance has suppressed women to the position of beggars and poor beings whose views do not count. This notion comes clear in The New Years sacrifice as it reads, in reference a female character: Her face was fearful thinlooking as if carved out of woodit was clear she had become a beggar (Xun 1972b p.127). This is a typical imagery in writing that Xun uses to paint women as associated with low status hence easier to be muted when serious discourses are brought to the table.

In his token theory, Lu Xan seems to set many of his stories to confirm or to provide evidence of the position of women in the society. Moreover, the low social class of women is evident in the following scenarios: women do not have a voice when it comes to divorce matters; men are always perceived as to be in a soul position in initiating a divorce. In addition to this, women are seen as just mere people whose view is centered on household chores, their position in critical matters does not always prevail to that of men. Women should be treated in the same way as men. Their decisions regarding crucial matters in the society should be considered even if in the long run they dont prevail. In Divorce, Xun presents the power that the seventh master has that prevents a female character from taking a stand against a decision, and this is something which she was powerless to prevent (Xun 1972b p.255)

In some of his arguments, Lu Xun indicates that it is women who themselves that allow men to control them. Lu Xun further indicates some instances where women are looked down upon in the society in China an example being a disproportionate number of men and women in the society. However, Divorce is seen as representing his communist party ideas about women being treated equally, with a voice. The disproportionate number is ironic and somewhat insulting to his growing take on the communist ideals. The contrast of dominance of men over women in Tomorrow, the dominant is one of consent and underscores the necessity of the position that women have in society. In addition to this, the status of women in society will gradually improve when a woman grows old. This is because the dominance of men over women will have to decline over the women in the society since young men cannot disrespect older women. At this point, this older woman enjoys a more social status as, men in the community (Wang 1999).

About the gender schemer theory, which was introduced by an author known as Sandra Bem in 1981, is a cognitive theory. That tries to clarify how people become classified regarding gender in the community and how the features of different gender are preserved and passed on to other members of a given structure. Gender-related information is dominantly transmitted via the society through systems of information that permits some information to be more easily integrated as compared to others. Moreover, Bem claims that there are individual differences in the degree to which people hold these gender schemata. These ideological differences are evident through the degree to which people are sex types.

Being one of Lu Xun stories, Divorce" shows the change of women's culture in China and their attempts to fight against oppression and seek for social justice. Awareness has been created among women themselves on the various methods that they can use to fight for the inequalities n the society. They have realized that they too are the same social class as the very men who exercise control over them. This has prompted the formation of various women union organizations that tries to empower women and educate them on their right in the society as a whole. These unions have ensured that they are registered and have laws governing their constitution. One of the benefits of registering they can sue men who violate the rights of women. However, in the joy luck club by Army Tan, there is a large contrast in both the setting and character personalities. For instance, one of the greatest distinctions is experienced on the freedom of speech of the mothers and daughters in Army Tan's novel.

Another instance where women are looked down upon in the society is through oppression. A problematic situation arises as to what degree of oppression should be considered so that one can believe that one is being discriminated. Oppression can occur among women themselves and that oppression to women that comes from men. As already indicated above, the oppression of women and women is seen to be of no value to be considered. The oppression of men to women is always supposed to be more prevalent. Xuns The True Story of Ah Q presents Amah Wu and the Buddhist Nun who experience mens supremacy. Ah Q throws himself at Amah Wu telling her "Sleep with me!" despite her unwillingness to do so.

In the book Linguistic Picture of Women's Position in Society written by Jarworski Adam, there is no such deviation from his approach to the approach of Lu Xun. Adams, in his book, has given a great emphasis on the critical issue that has been highlighted by Lu Xun. The problems are concerned with the reasons underlying the low social status of women in the society and also the inability of women to express their opinion. Adams continues and implies that, in the past, women were not allowed to participate in some of the activities which brought them together with men (Adam, 1986). They were not permitted to participate in such activities as voting, but instead majorly dwe...

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