The modern Asian woman is making tremendous strides in the area of equality with men. The experience of many women from China is characteristic of the changes that are occurring across much of East Asia in developing economic nations. When we consider the position that women held in traditional Chinese society and then compare this to the greater economic, educational, and social opportunities that women enjoy today, the evidence of radical change is overwhelming. The Asian woman from China has greater freedom and financial opportunity than ever before.
In ancient Chinese culture the role of the woman was mostly confined to the home. Young girls were often treated as a liability until they reached the age of being able to marry. At this time, they were then given to another family mature chinese women once an arrangement had been contracted between the parents. Women in ancient China had little (if any) input into the decision about “who” would be their husband. Consequently, they also had no control over what direction their life would take thereafter. In this culture women had no real power or control over their own destiny. They were expected to quietly submit to the unfair realities of life that had to be endured without complaint. This was the bitter role that ancient Chinese culture forced upon their women and young girls.
The first real change for the women of China came during the period of the Nationalist government known as the “republic” years. During this period of time women in the major cities were given the chance to acquire formal education. Women cherished this opportunity to study beside men in the classroom. It would turn out to be a very large step for the rights and standing of Chinese women. When communism came to power in 1949, the unequal distinction between men and women was eroded even further. Beginning at this time, women were given the opportunity to seek education and to hold jobs in society at large. In fact, under Mao’s rule many women began to hold important political positions in the government. These women exercised their influence in a variety of ways.
The modern era of communism in China has witnessed a back and forth movement in regard to the meet asian women rights and privileges of women within society. Women continued to enjoy the political power as they did under Mao. However, Chinese women also began to discover the influence of foreign music, movies, and popular western culture. It has been during this time period that Chinese women began to abandon the traditional fashion trends of China. They instead started to adopt the newer trends which were imported from the West. During this same time, Chinese women have developed many new ideas that were never a part of traditional Chinese culture. This would include the freedom to choose their own husband, or to remain a single mother. In the 1990s a growing number of women started to leave China for higher education and employment. As a result, these women developed more independence. Such freedom is distinctly out of character with traditional Chinese society. Women learned to take care of themselves in foreign countries of the world. As a result, Asian women from China have played a huge role in the establishment of “Chinatowns” in many foreign countries like America.