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Evans, Harriet (1991) The Official Construction of Female Sexuality and Gender in the People's Republic of China 1949-1959. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033902

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Abstract

Issues of sexuality as expounded in the Chinese official press of the 1950s can be taken as an important indicator of the changing perception of female gender in the early People's Republic. This thesis explores the assumptions and attitudes concerning sexuality conveyed in the official media, and places particular emphasis on the projection of female attributes and responsibilities in sexual relationships. It analyses the different biological and social constructions of sexuality, and the means by which biologically determined sexual differences were inscribed with specific gender characteristics. In so doing, it offers a view of female gender not attainable from the study of women in other contexts in the same period. Simultaneously, the focus on the official media permits examination of the nature of the state's interests in sponsoring public discussion about sex-related issues. Official journals and educational materials on love, marriage and the family projected new norms and expectations of women's sexual behaviour which served both didactic and exhortatory functions. Norms expounded for women as fiancee, wife and mother, as represented in these materials, established a new conjugal relationship in which, ideally, both man and wife contributed in equal measure to marital and family stability and satisfaction. The new norms also suggested that women were attributed with certain biological characteristics which identified them as 'natural' providers of their husbands' needs and as principle mediators of marital harmony. Any female violation of the new sexual norms was interpreted as the generator and signifier of suffering, sickness and moral chaos. Women, therefore, were assigned primary responsibility for maintaining moral and social order. On this basis, it can be argued that female sexual conduct was appropriated by the state as an agent of moral and social order, in which the needs and interests of the male predominated over those of the female.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033902
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:23
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/33902

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