Women in China: Studies in Social Change and Feminism 0892640154, 9780892640157

Many students of China have read in many classic reports of the Chinese revolution about the changing role of Chinese wo

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Table of contents :
Contents
Introduction
Mao Tse-tung, Women and Suicide
NOTES
Woman as Politician in China of the 1920s
NOTES
Chinese Women in the Early Communist Movement
NOTES
Women in the Liberated Areas
NOTES
Institutionalized Motivation for Fertility Limitation
NOTES
Women and Revolution:The Lessons of the Soviet Union and China
NOTES
A Response to "Women and Revolution"
Women Hold Up Half the Sky
GROWING IN STRUGGLE
Women’s Liberation
Liberation of Women
The Status of Women in Taiwan: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
NOTES
Bibliography
Notes on Contributors
Recommend Papers

Women in China: Studies in Social Change and Feminism
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THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN CENTER FOR CHINESE STUDIES

MICHIGAN PAPERS IN CHINESE STUDIES NO. 15

WOMEN IN CHINA

Studies In Social Change and Fem inism

Edited by Marilyn B. Young

Ann A rbor Center fo r Chinese Studies The U niversity o f Michigan 1973

C opyright © 1973

by Center fo r Chinese Studies The University o f Michigan

Printed in the United States o f A m erica

Of course it was n ecessary to give them [women] legal equality to begin with I But from there on, every­ thing still rem ains to be done. The thought, culture, and custom s which brought China to where we found her must disappear, and the thought, custom s, and culture o f proletarian China, which does not yet exist, must appear. The Chinese woman does not yet exist either, among the m asses; but she is beginning to want to ex­ ist. And then to liberate women is not to manufacture washing m achines— and to liberate their husbands is not to manufacture b icy cles but to build the M oscow subway. Mao T se-tung to André Malraux c . 1958 (from A nti-m ém oires)

From the fam ily album o f Ma Ching-heng, Department o f F ar Eastern Languages and Literatures, U niversity o f Michigan. Picture taken in the late 1920s.

Contents

Introduction M arilyn B. Y oun g...............................................................................

1

Mao Tse-tung, Women and Suicide Roxane W ilk e .......................................................................................

7

Woman as P olitician in China o f the 1920s Roxane W ltk e .......................................................................................

33

Chinese Women in the E arly Communist Movement Suzette L e it h .......................................................................................

47

Women in die Liberated A reas D elia D avin ...........................................................................................

73

Institutionalized Motivation fo r F ertility Lim itation Janet S a la ff...........................................................................................

93

Women and Revolution: The Lessons o f the Soviet Union and China Janet Salaff and Judith M e r ld e ....................................................... 145 A Response to "Women and Revolution" Nancy M ilt o n .......................................................................................... 179 Women Hold Up Half the Sky Jane B a r r e t t .......................................................................................... 193 W om en's lib era tion Soong C h in g -lin g .................................................................................. 201 Liberation o f Women Lu Yu-lan

205

The Status o f W omen in Taiwan: One Step F orw ard, Two Steps Back Norma D iam ond...................................................................................... 211

B ib liograp h y.................................................................................................. 243 Notes on C o n tr ib u to r s ..............................................................................257

Introduction

The subject o f women in China is hardly a new one. There is a substantial bibliography in various disciplin es, and it is growing. What is new is our subjective appreciation o f its im portance. One o f the m inor iron ies o f contem porary academ ic life is that it has taken an entire political movement to reveal to us the im portance o f one-half o f the human race, in whatever time period, culture, o r field we explore. The fo rce with which w om en's liberation exploded on the Am erican scene a few years ago affected our lives at every le v e l, from personal consciousness to a new and somewhat stunned understanding o f how distorted was the fram ework in which we viewed the w orld at large. Many students o f China have read and responded to the cla ssic reports of the Chinese revolution: Jack Beiden* s China Shakes the W orld, W illiam Hinton's Fanshen. Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China. Agnes Sm edley's Battle Hymn o f China. In each o f these books, the changing role o f Chinese women is a m ajor part o f the story. Women fighting and working, women speaking and m arching, women standing up angry. And yet unless my experience is quite thoroughly idiosyncratic, we absorbed this inform ation in a m ost curious way, with half the mind, so to speak. Then a section o f B elden's book appeared in pamphlet form , reprinted by a radical p ress. "G oldflow er's S to ry ," Belden's m oving account o f the lib ­ eration o f women in one village, sold thousands o f copies, not to scholars of China but to students who saw reflected in it som e o f their own anger, and who sought in it (with whatever caveats one wishes to make about appropriateness) som e vision o f how they might begin to change their lives. Thus we find that the w om en's movement in A m erica has re ­ directed our attention to aspects o f China's liberation which w ere always there, awaiting our discovery. Rereading Beiden with this sense o f im m ediacy means appreciating, perhaps fo r the firs t tim e, the nature o f the revolution he described. We now see the actions of the W omen's A ssociations not as part o f som e general and vague process o f "socia l m obilization ," but as sp ecific, bearing directly on both the concrete and existential situation o f their m em bers.

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"Oh, so that’ s what it was all about, " we murmur In surprise when we read o f the beating o f G oldflow er's viciou s fath er-in-law . T h ese women break the bonds o f all the old definitions: they retaliate against a man, an eld er, an in-law . And they do it together. T h is is social change with a vengeance. Focusing our attention on women in China does m ore than ju s t strengthen our still tenuous grasp on the texture o f revolution. It also ra ises an enorm ous variety o f questions. What w ere the r o o ts o f the w om en's movement in China? How did that movement rela te to the Communist P arty? What w ere (and are) the contradictions between social revolution and m ilitant fem in ism ? What happened to the urban fem inists who did not join the Com m unists? And what was the fate o f those who d id ? How long does it take fo r social transform ation to make its effect felt on the status o f w om en? Cu­ riously, today the Chinese find them selves called upon to answer unexpected questions from sympathetic young A m ericans. Instead o f the uneasy queries about particular bourgeois freedom s (of sp eech , p ress, etc. ), they confront a barrage o f questions about women. N or are statistics about the number o f women crane operators entirely satisfying, however gratifying it is to know they exist. This volum e draws together som e recent essays on women so that students may have, in a convenient form , a sense o f the range o f problem s, answ ers, and questions. The authors share neither a comm on ideology nor m ethodology, but only the central query: what about w om en? We begin with two im portant essays by Roxane Wltke. The firs t, a consideration o f Mao T se-tu n g's early response to the w om en's issu e, underlines the conjunction between the position o f women and the key issu es o f social revolution in China. Passionate, outraged, eager fo r the struggle, M ao's a rticles on the suicide o f three young g irls still speak to us across the decades and the changes. But what w ere women them selves saying and doing? P rofessor W ltke's essay on women in p olitics o ffers both an overview o f the fem inist movement in the early Republic and a study o f the socia list critique o f that movement. In particular, she draws our attention to Hsiang Ching-yQ, considered by her contem poraries "as perhaps the m ost outstanding woman revolutionary o f her tim e. " H siang's Insistence that social revolution was the absolutely essential pre-condition fo r w om en's liberation has been the accepted position o f socia list radi­ ca ls in virtually all tim es and places. F or Hsiang, and thousands

INTRODUCTION

lik e h er, it was not m erely a m atter o f rh etoric. h e r life fo r it.

3

In 1928 she gave

But what o f the contradictions? Suzette L eith's fascinating study o f the 20s and early 30s fo rce s us to confront them. In the 1920s, peasant women responded with rem arkable alacrity to the organizing efforts o f women cadres under the general direction o f P 'eng P 'ai in the south o f China. M obilized in a separate w om en's union, these peasants perform ed m agnificently in the developm ent o f a com m unications network. Much o f their ardor fo r the cause rested on their awareness that the Communists stood fo r equality between men and women and would support the efforts o f women to be re­ leased from arranged m arriages and brutal husbands. A ccording to one leader, "som e hated the organization because it defended the rights o f women and took care o f the divorce p rob lem ." Thus the w om en's issue was seen as a potentially divisive one at the same tim e that it was acknowledged to be one which could unleash the righteous anger o f m illions o f peasants — who w ere women — fo r the revolution. Ms. L eith's essay points to other contradictions as w ell: the choice between pow er in the w om en's department o f the Party and com petition fo r influence within the Party as a whole, between the desire to pursue non-sex-linked ca reers and the ten­ dency o f the Party to place prom inent women in charge o f "w om en's w o rk ." D elia D avln's careful study o f women in the liberated areas o f China before 1949 is especially valuable fo r its detailed discussion o f Party policy towards women in the cru cially form ative years o f the Klang si Soviet and the Yen an period. How policy changed, what it was intended to accom plish, how it affected the actual lives o f peasant women, are all system atically examined. Two fundamental Party resolutions shape the fram ework within which one must approach the changing position o f women as viewed by the revolutionary leader­ ship. The firs t, in 1943, states unequivocably that "the m obilization o f women fo r production is the m ost vital fa ctor in safeguarding their special in te re s ts ." The second, published in 1948, in sists that the struggle against oppressive feudal form s " is an ideological struggle amongst the peasants, and should be radically different from the cla ss struggle against the feudal la n d lord s." M s. D avin's inform ed and sensitive discussion o f what these resolutions meant fo r Chinese women is an enorm ously important contribution to our knowledge o f the subject.

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Liberation has, perhaps, added to the lis t o f contradictions, albeit in a dynamic way. Janet Salaff exam ines the new situation in two quite different contributions. The firs t explores the com plex interrelationship between anti-natalism , work options, p re-lib era tion socia l m ores, fam ily obligations, and collective values in rural C h in a . In this w ide-ranging and detailed study. P rofessor Salaff presents u s with an enorm ous amount o f new inform ation and allow s us to see, with a fullness not hitherto available, the w orld of choice and con­ flictin g demand in which Chinese women now live. Her second e s ­ say, written with Judith M erkle, is a critique from an explicitly fem inist perspective o f the extent to which socia list revolution, in either R ussia o r China, has fu lfilled its em ancipatory goals. The addition o f the Soviet example o ffe rs us an opportunity to extend our com parative approach to the topic. Nancy M ilton's vigorous response to the Salaff-M erkle a rticle raises several cru cial issu es. How, Ms. Milton asks, do you ju d ge p rogress toward em ancipation? And who ju d ges? Do Am ericans ethnocentrically p roject irrelevant goals onto China and then re je ct the Chinese fo r not m eeting them ? Perhaps, she suggests, urban m iddle cla ss W estern activists have little to say to Third W orld women. We must ask ou rselves whether fem inism requires a d is­ tinct revolutionary movement o r is sim ply a dependent clause o f the socia list revolution. M s. M ilton's referen ce to the "Red Detachment o f Women" gives pause. F or as Jane Barrett recently discovered, the h istor­ ica l leading cadre was not, as the ballet depicts, m ale, but fem ale. Ms. B arrett's reflections on h er recen t trip to China is the next essay in the volum e. In one im portant exchange with a Chinese woman, we are brought starkly before the questions raised by Nancy Milton: before liberation, Ms. Barrett is rem inded, Chinese women "cou ld not go out into society. " Current Am erican struggles ov er sex linked jobs pale somewhat before the absoluteness o f such traditional prohibitions. M s. B arrett's report is follow ed by two documents. It would be foolish , in a volum e o f this kind, to ignore what the Chinese them selves say about the woman question. Recent issu es o f Chinese Literature have included many stories and poem s on brave and ac­ com plished women w orkers. As Ms. M ilton's article points out, women play m ajor roles in all the ballets, operas, and m ovies

INTRODUCTION

5

produced since the Cultural Revolution. M oreover, two issu es o f Peking Review have discussed the problem at som e length. The firs t document is by Soong Chlng-ling, in which she reflects on the w om en's movement in the past, the changes brought by liberation, the continuing prevalence o f a "feudal-patriarchal ideology" in rural China, and h er own vision o f how it w ill be finally elim inated. The second document is by Lu Y u-lan, a m em ber o f the Central Commit­ tee o f the Party, Secretary o f the Linhsi County Party Committee, and Deputy Secretary o f the Hopei Provincial Party Committee. lik e Soong Ching-ling, Lu Yu-lan notes that the "road o f w om en's eman­ cipation . . . was not a smooth one. " She is confident, how ever, that general socia l transform ation w ill lead to a corresponding change in the position o f women in the society, and her discussion o f trans­ form ation in her village illustrates both the difficulties and the tri­ umphs. And yet the c ir c le rem ains. When the feudal-patriarchal ideology is eradicated, Soong Ching-ling argues, then equality w ill be fully established. But the m essage o f the Cultural Revolution was p recisely that Ideological form ulations inappropriate to the new society have enorm ous staying pow er, despite radical transform ation o f the m aterial base o f the society. It is a constant struggle, in which the relationship between the m aterial base and the superstruc­ ture is not a sim ple given equation, but a densely colored flux and the society must operate forcefu lly on both levels all the tim e. It is M ao's theory o f contradictions in the flesh . •

Finally, what o f the "bourgeois parasites" Soong Ching-ling speaks o f? Where did they g o ? Many ended up in Taiwan, and the fate o f women on that island is the subject o f Norma Diam ond's sensitive and perceptive essay. If one sought a laboratory answer to the question, what happens to a fem inist movement in a society which is not transform ing itself, Taiwan indicates som e o f the pos­ sib ilities. The volum e concludes with an annotated bibliography prepared by P rofessor Diamond, which incorporates a very useful selection done prim arily by Judith Skidmore and Pat Soltysik fo r an Asian Studies w om en's course at the University o f California, Berkeley. Other m em bers o f the course edited their work fo r the journal Asian Women. The bibliography, like the essays them selves, is intended to encourage students to ask and answer new questions: about A sia, about women, about ou rselves.

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6

The editorial w ork, production sk ill, and critica l in telligen ce o f Penny T . Greene and Linda H. Erwin have been cru cial to the preparation and distribution o f this issue o f the Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies.

M arilyn B. Young Ann A rbor July 1973

Mao Tse-tung, W om en and Suicide Roxane Witke

There was nothing particularly out o f the ordinary about the facts o f M iss Chao's suicide. It happened this way. M iss Chao W u-chieh, o f Nanyang Street. Changsha, was engaged to m arry Wii F eng-lin, o f Kantzuyuan. on November 14. 1919. As a m atter of course the match had been arranged by her parents and the match­ m aker. Although M iss Chao had had only the b rief ritual encoun­ ters with the fiancé, she disliked him intensely and was unwilling to m arry him. Her parents refused both to undo the match and to postpone tiie wedding date. On the day o f the wedding, as M iss Chao was being raised aloft in the bridal chair to be delivered to the home o f the groom , she drew out a dagger which she had pre­ viously concealed in the chair and slit her th roat.1 While in ordinary tim es this incident might have passed unno­ ticed, during the tim e o f the cultural catharsis o f the May Fourth period it was blown up to becom e one o f Changsha's biggest news stories o f the year. M iss Chao's suicide was the subject o f at least nine im passioned articles by Mao Tse-tung which set the style o f the "ca se study, " a new genre o f May Fourth polem ical literature. M ao's series o f a rticles sp ecifica lly on M iss Chao but m ore gener­ ally on the role of* women and the fam ily in modern China reflected changes already in p rocess and fomented still m ore radical action. Written in the autumn o f 1919, before his thinking began to show the laboured and dogm atic effects o f M arxism , the style its e lf b ris­ tled with the bite and pungency o f Hunanese argot. M ao's literary execu tors, striving to keep afloat the myth that he was born Marx­ is t, have excluded these writings from the C ollected W orks, pre­ sumably because they document the heterogeneous phases p rior to* Reprinted with perm ission from The China Quarterly, No. 31, JulySeptem ber, 1967. 7

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his conversion to M arxism . However» excerpts have been repro­ duced in reliable though not widely distributed documentary h is to r ie s o f Hunan, and o f the periodical publications o f the May Fourth e ra . ^ These a rticles are o f interest not only because they add to the c o r ­ pus o f Mao, but also because they dem onstrate how important argu­ ments fo r w om en's liberation w ere to the total cultural rea ssessm en t o f the May Fourth era. Beginning in the late Ch'ing the social role o f women becam e one o f the m ost prom inent subjects o f reform literature. Alm ost a ll m ajor w riters from then on addressed them selves to it, fo r it was the nexus o f all questions o f socia l change in China's recent h isto ry . By the May Fourth era (1917-21) the issu es surrounding the role o f women w ere referred to collectively as the "woman problem " (fu-ntl w en -t'i). While the "woman problem " pervades all May Fourth lit­ erature, serious w riters did not deal with the problem as such but with one o r m ore o f its substantive issu es: the reform o f the fam ­ ily system , m arriage reform , d ivorce, communal rearing o f chil­ dren, chastity, suicide, suffrage, etc. It is difficult to estim ate the number o f periodicals devoted to the changing role o f women, but by all standards it was huge. Excluding lightweights churned out fo r fem inine diversion and erotic literature fo r m en, the num­ ber o f serious Chinese journals devoted exclusively to women during the last century runs to w ell over a hundred. At least another hun­ dred frequently o r regularly Included a rticles on the subject o f women o r had special numbers on the "woman problem . " In the May Fourth era alone there w ere numerous journals o f both general and restricted circulation devoted solely to women and m ost journals in­ cluded a rticles and special issu es on women. During the May Fourth period journals devoted to the subject o f women w ere p r e p a r e d ly and fo r men who w ere in the p rocess o f shaping the new China. M ao's w ritings on M iss Chao, fo r exam ple, w ere clea rly directed towards a m asculine audience. The reason was that 90 per cent o r m ore o f the fem ale population was illiterate and the m ajority of women w ere still unconcerned with the problem s o f their own eman­ cipation. Only in the m ost recent years have alm ost all wom en's /m agazines been prepared fo r fem ale consumption alone. In China ! the issu es o f w om en's emancipation crossed sexual lines and evoked a depth o f comm itment in both sexes which might better be compared with current campaigns fo r racial equality than with the woman suf­ frage movement in the W est. M ao's view s on women developed under three influences. The firs t was his personal life —his childhood, his student years and an

WOMEN & SUICIDE

9

assortm ent o f influential people. The second was Hunan, student involvem ent in p olitics, and particularly the active role o f g ir ls ' sch ools in resistance both to (he w arlord government and to the econ om ic and political m enace o f Japan. The third was the social and cultural revolution o f the May Fourth era. Certain features o f M ao's early life may w ell have affected the evolution o f his later view s on women. As Mao indicated in his testim ony to Edgar Snow, his resentm ent o f his fath er's bursts o f tem per and tyrannical man­ ner w ere intense, and he found him self habitually taking refuge with h is gentle and sympathetic m other, who was also persecuted by his father. When Mao was 13 his fàther arranged a m arriage which was typical o f the peasant cla ss, the bride being six years older than Mao. The point o f taking an older bride into the household was to exploit her labour fo r several years before the son was ma­ ture and the actual m arriage cerem ony was carried out. But Mao was so violently opposed to the union that he ran away from home and refused to return until his father retracted his threat to force him to consummate the m arriage. M ao's su ccess in preventing his father from insisting on the typical peasant-class match was his firs t assault on the traditional m arriage system . His actual first m arriage in 1921 to Yang K 'ai-hui was just the reverse of tradition: it was a love match and freely contracted. K 'ai-hui was the daughter o f Yang C h'ang-chi, a philosopher, w riter and M ao's teacher at the F irst Normal School in Changsha after 1915. Yang Ch'ang-chi was an early exponent o f the ruth­ lessly critica l attitude and liberal imagination which cam e to dom­ inate the May Fourth era. In his own fam ily he pioneered in pro­ viding his daughter with the education and experience necessary to make her an independent person. He regarded the traditional Chi­ nese fam ily with its constraints on the individual as the source o f China's .national weakness. In the June 1915 issue o f Chia-yin tsa chih (The T iger Magazine) he published an article entitled "Notes on Reform ing the Fam ily Institution"^ in which he com pared what he considered to be enlightened English custom s on m arriage and divorce with the parochial and even "barba ric" ways o f his country­ men. He was particularly im pressed with the financial and social independence o f English widows who could consider rem arriage; Chinese widows, on the other hand, inherited no property and w ere them selves regarded as property to be disposed o f at w ill by the dead husband's fam ily. Yang regarded concubinage, one o f whose m ajor functions was to insure m ale succession , as a form o f slav­ ery. He maintained that the rigid patriarchal system and fam ilism in general w ere the fundamental reasons fo r China's national weakness;

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energies which might have been turned outward and made to serve the public good w ere channelled inward and dissipated in the u s e le s s prolonging o f feudal fam ily lines. While Y ang's ideas w ere by no means the only ones influencing Mao in his adolescent years, Yang occupied the unique position o f being at once philosopher, teacher, friend and finally fath er-in-law . ' The unprecedented participation o f g irl students in Hunan's in ­ ternal p olitical struggles awakened Mao to the revolutionary potential o f women. From the very beginning o f the student movement in Hu­ nan, g irl students w ere swept up into (he student activist organisa­ tions. In (he autumn o f 1917 Mao and T s'a i H o-sheng began laying {dans fo r the New P eople's Study Society (H sin-m ln hsueh-hul). W ith­ in ß year this becam e one o f the m ost radical student organisations existing in China at the tim e, and the bulk o f its m em bers eventually joined the Socialist Youth Corps and (he Communist P a rty .5 When the Society was form ally organised in A pril 1918, T s'a i H o-sheng's siste r, T s'a i Ch'ang, who was destined to becom e one o f the fore­ m ost leaders o f women in Communist China, was the firs t fem ale m em ber.5 A ccording to T s'a i Ch'ang, Mao, her brother and she h erself so hated the tyrannies o f the traditional m arriage system that when the Society was founded they sw ore never to m arry. T his understanding, amusing in retrospect since (hey all m arried (Mao three tim es), was (he basis o f (heir early friendship. ^ In the sam e vein o f puritanical dedication Mao told Edgar Snow that when (he New P eop le's Study Society was being form ed he and his friends had no tim e fo r 'lo v e and rom ance"; (he tim es w ere fa r too critica l and the needs fo r knowledge too urgent to discuss women o r personal mat­ ters. ® The S ociety's m em bership consisted m ostly o f activist stu­ dents and teachers from the leading Changsha sch ools: the F irst Normal School, Chou-nan G irls' Middle School and several other m iddle sch ools, (he School o f Com m erce and the School o f Law. By the eve o f (he May Fourth Movement it had about 80 m em bers who m et every month o r two. Mao is said to have drafted the man­ ifesto which resolved to "reform China and the w orld" and opposed prostitution, gambling, concubinage and lewdness o f any sort.** The New P eople's Study Society was explicitly concerned with the woman problem and particularly with instilling in women a consciousness of their potential social and political r o le s . Mao and T s'a i H o-sheng also joined fo rce s in setting up the Society fo r Work and Study in France (Iiu -F a ch'ln-kung hut). Be­ cause Mao was eager to see g irls join the program m e in France,

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11

he organised the G irls' Society fo r Work and Study in France (Nil- v tzu liu -F a ch'in-kung hul). Although Mao him self never went abroad with these program m es, he was continuously involved in pro­ m oting them in China. At the sam e tim e that the overseas pro­ gram m es w ere being set into m otion, T s'a i Ch'ang and Hsiang ChingyU extended the sam e pattern o f organisation to the W omen's Work and Study Group which they founded in Changsha. ** Hsiang Ching-ytt, also a native Hunanese, was a graduate o f Changsha G irls' Normal School. By this tim e Hsiang had becom e the forem ost fem ale leader o f May Fourth activities in Changsha. when Hsiang Ching-ytt and T s'a i Ch'ang, along with 14 other Hunanese g irls and a la rg er num­ b er o f m ale students and teachers, w ere on the point o f embarking fo r F rance, Mao said to Hsiang Ching-ytt: "I hope that you w ill be able to lead a large group of fem ale com rades abroad, fo r each one you take with you is one you save. T s'a i Ho-sheng also favoured sending as many women as possible to France. It was the consen­ sus o f the New P eople's Study Society that women should be encour­ aged to go because they w ere extrem ely dependable.*4 Hsiang Chingytt m arried T s'ai H o-sheng and T s'a i Ch'ang m arried Li Fu-ch'un while they w ere in France with the Work-Study Program m e. The Incident o f May 4 , 1919 lent cohesion and significance to the desperate loca l struggles which w ere already under way. In Hu­ nan, as soon as the students w ere dism issed fo r summer holidays in June, they channelled all their pent-up outrage and energy into form ­ ing a network o f student alliances throughout Ihe province. Mao was instrum ental in the form ation o f the overall co-ordinating body called the United Students' A lliance which began functioning on June 3, 1919. From its inception the Alliance included g irls as w ell as boys. At fir s t the g irls took cues from the boys, but they soon gained their own revolutionary momentum. T 'a o Yttan G irls' School was highly spirited and its administration lib era l. In the latter half o f May several hundred o f its students with the help o f their principal, P'eng Shih-tl, organised them selves into "Com m ittees o f Ten to Save the N ation." These com m ittees served as pilot groups which w ere d is­ patched to various areas o f the city to give lectu res on how to "save the nation." O ccasionally the Com m ittees o f Ten had prim ary school children attached to them, carrying white "save the nation" flags. T heir m essages typically ran like this: "D ear com patriots, every­ one must awaken to fite fact that China is about to be lo st and we shall becom e enslaved just as happened to the Koreans, and our women w ill suffer extrem e humiliation. Taiwan is another example [o f Japanese colon isation ]. Let us all be aware o f China's p red ica -

W ITK E

12

ment and support native products I"

15

Of all the g ir ls ' sch ools, Chou-nan Middle School was the m o s t avant-garde In Its teaching, in its campaigns to instruct the p op u la ce and in its publications. Its principal, Chu Chien-fan was a jo u rn a lis t and leader o f Hunanese reform c ir c le s during the May Fourth e r a .1 5 a The school was in fact the training ground fo r many o f China's m o s t rebellious and exceptional women. At the age o f 13 Ting Ling, a ls o a native Hunanese, led a group o f her fellow students from Chou-nan to a session o f the Hunan Provisional Council in ord er to demand equality fo r women and the right to inherit property. A fter s ch o o l closed In early June the Chou-nan students organised them selves in ­ to groups set up fo r discussion, investigation and com m unications. Every day discussion groups o f four o r five students went out to pu blic places to lecture at large to the women and g irls about how a " c e r ­ tain foreign nation" was persecuting China, and how, in their daily purchase o f com m odities, it was their responsibility to boycott fo r ­ eign goods and to prom ote national industries. Investigation groups w ere dispatched regularly to take note o f the origins o f the produ cts being purchased by women and to encourage them to use only native ones. The comm unications groups distributed posters and propaganda leaflets fo r the purpose o f spreading these m essages as widely as p ossible. In addition to the organisations form ed by students o f individual sch ools, several alliances o f g ir ls ' schools w ere set up, among them the A lliance o f G irl Students in Changsha and the P rogressive A s s o c i­ ation o f G irl Students. In mid-June the Alliance already had a m em ­ bership o f 11 sch ools, m ostly g irls ' middle sch ools. Its p rojects in ­ cluded the boycott of Japanese products and the prom otion o f native industries, the creation o f a vernacular journal and a Half-Day School fo r Women o f the Common People (P 'ing-m in nli-tzu pan-jih hsuehhsiao). In mid-June the P rogressive A ssociation o f G irl Students addressed its e lf to the Changsha Chamber o f C om m erce, exhorting m em bers to prom ote the sale o f native goods fo r purely patriotic reasons, even though it was patently obvious that they w ere in ferior in quality to im ported ones. The g irls sought to persuade m er­ chants that they too w ere responsible fo r saving the nation; those who failed to conform w ere denounced as "traitorous m erchants" (chien shang). The non-conform ist g irls who w ere discovering a new w orld o f p olitics and civ il action provided Mao Tse-tung with the inspiration

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fo r his early writing on women. But his real subjects w ere the wom en who conform ed, suffered sen selessly and died like M iss Chao. The "ca se study" method which Mao used in his a rticles on M iss Chao was both traditional and m odern. The traditional prototype was the genre of lieh-ntt chuan (biographies o f famous women) which appeared as part o f dynastic h istories and privately com piled local h istories. A book known by the same name was part o f the cla ssi­ ca l canon o f m oral instruction fo r g irls. While Mao invoked the traditional prototype, he did so with an iron ic twist. In the tradi­ tional case the "fam ous woman" (or "fem ale m artyr, " depending on ch oice o f translation) might, fo r exam ple, insure her chastity fo r ev er by com m itting suicide upon the death o f her fiancé o r husband. She would then be canonised as the ideal o f fem ale self-abnegation. In M ao's studies the bride com m its suicide not fo r love o r respect o f the groom , but because she hates him. The modern appeal o f the case study was that it appeared to be "s c ie n tific ." Ever since Ch'en Tu-hsiu had elevated "M r. Sci­ en ce" (K 'o-hsueh hsien-sheng) as a dem l-god, "scie n ce " in its mani­ fold applications becam e the intellectual touchstone o f the May Fourth generation. The case study was considered scien tific because it was based on em pirical evidence from which general statements about die society might be drawn. As such it was a form o f g ra ss-roots so ci­ ology which appealed hugely to young c ritic s who, in spite o f their infatuation with the new " is m s ," showed a new literaln ess and em ­ p irica l toughness o f mind. Consequently M ao's study o f M iss Chao, which at once perverted the accepted ideal o f fem ale m artyrs and famous women and in the sam e stroke ruthlessly exposed the sick­ ness o f contem porary society, was a m ajor literary if not m oral and political event in Hunan. M ao's a rticles on M iss Chao w ere not his firs t on the woman problem . However, few o f the ea rlier p ieces survive, even in mod­ ern secondary sou rces. The ea rlier w ritings appeared in at least fou r periodicals published in Hunan during 1919-20: Hsiang R iver Review (H siang-chiang p'ing-lun), New Hunan (Hsin Hunan), W omen's B ell (NU-chleh chung) and Ta Rung Pao, the leading Changsha daily from which the m ost survives. Although none o f these periodicals is readily available in the original in the W est, the contents can be reconstructed in part from various secondary Chinese sources which have been com piled fo r scholarly as much as political purposes. Hsiang R iver Review was launched on July 14, 1919 with Mao as ch ief editor. It published a total o f five issu es, the last appearing

14

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on August 4 , 1919 when it was confiscated by the Hunan w arlord Chang Ching-yao. Mao supplied m ost o f the a rticles and the co n ­ tents covered a broad spectrum —international, national and Hunanese events, vernacular literature and the "New C ultu re." In general the m agazine's view s w ere radical and inflam m atory. T h e firs t issu e contained an article signed by Mao and entitled "The W om en's Revolutionary A rm y ," but regrettably no parts o f fids have been preserved in later collection s. In "The Great Union o f file Popular Blasses" (issu es 2, 3 and 4) Mao urged peasants, w orkers, women, teachers and students to Join together in oppos­ ing the reactionary fo rce s o f aristocrats and capitalists. 2® W hile Mao recognised that superstition, fatalism and slavish devotion to living authorities was practised by all cla sse s, he singled out women as being a vast repository o f the old habits o f thinking. In the third issu e he called upon women sp ecifica lly to unite to abolish "m an-eating feudal m orality . . . and to sweep away the goblins [that d estroy ] physical and spiritual freedom . " 2* Mao in­ sisted that women belonged to "Jen, " in effect the human ra ce, a s opposed to som e sub-human species fo r which special restriction s And a retributive m orality had to be contrived. He argued that women should be granted suffrage and the freedom to move outside o f the home and to circu late in society on an equal footing with men. He said: "A s we are all human beings, why not grant us all su ffrage? And as we are all human beings, why not allow us \to m ix freely with one an oth er?"22 Unequal demands fo r chastity was one o f the m ost bitterly at­ tacked points o f the double standard. While prostitution, rem ar­ riage and concubinage co st men no social disgrace, the demands o f chastity on women w ere so rigorous that potential o r actual lo ss o f chastity becam e a m ajor cause o f fem ale suicide. In the third is ­ sue o f Hsiang R iver Review Mao attacked the use o f chastity as a m easuring-stick fo r m orality: "What sort o f chastity is this, com ­ pletely confined to women with shrines fo r fem ale m artyrs every­ where ? Where are the shrines fo r chaste b o y s ? "23 In a desperate attempt to stamp out all student protest associ­ ations and their journals, Chang Ching-yao confiscated Hsiang River Review in October 1919. Mao im m ediately found outlets in other journals. One was New Hunan, a monthly founded on June 5, 1919 as the su ccessor to Chiu-kuo chou-k'an (Save the Nation Journal). Mao becam e its editor after the seventh issu e, published in August 1919. A fter the tenth issue in O ctober it was banned.2* Its aims

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included undermining the theory o í the "three bonds" (san kang: to \ ru ler, father and husband) which was the basic form ula o f the old Confucian ethics o f loyalty, filia l piety and strict chastity in women; j prom otion o f individualism , independence and sexual equality; and / reform o f the clan and fam ily system . 25 M ao's contributions m ost / lik ely included a rticles on the woman problem ; how ever, the jo u r- / n a l's contents have not been made available. A third journal to which Mao contributed was W omen's B ell. published by the student union o f Chou-nan G irls' Middle School. When W omen's B ell was founded in July 1919 its m anifesto read: "A im : liberty and equality; means: struggle, creativeness and solution of the woman problem by w om en ." M ost o f the a rticles w ere written by students o f the Chou-nan sch ool; their subjects w ere the problem s o f w om en's emancipation and fem ale la b ou r.2® Some o f M ao's a rticles on the suicide o f M iss Chao are said to have been published here27; how ever, the only ones to which we presently have a ccess are from Changsha's Ta Rung Pao, which survived Chang C hing-yao's repressive p olicies m ore successfu lly than other contem porary left-w ing journals. M ao's series o f nine articles prom pted by M iss C hao's suicide w ere published sw iftly one after another in Ta R ing Pao. The first article appeared on November 16, two days after the event, and the last on Novem ber 30. While the exact publication date o f som e o f those in between is not known, they are presented here in die ord er in which they appeared origin ally. A ll sections o f the a rticles quoted directly by the Chinese editors are quoted in fu ll. When helpful the ed itor's paraphrasing o f parts which have not been quoted directly is transm itted. In the firs t a rticle, "A Critique o f M iss Chao's S u icid e," one can note M ao's habit o f attributing the causes o f all events to the "environm ent," "circum stances" o r "so cie ty "— term s he uses inter­ changeably in opposition to the individual. This pattern may reflect the influence o f Ibsen and his confrontation o f the individual and so­ ciety. It is m ost likely that Mao, who avidly read New Youth (Hsln ch'ing-nlen). had seen its June 1918 issu e, which was wholly devoted to translation o f Ibsen's works and studies o f "Ibsenism " (I-po-sh en gch u -i). A second notable feature is a streak o f determ inism in his thinking which leads him to say that had particular conditions o f the environment (circum stances o r society) not obtained, then the suicide surely could not have com e about. He fa ils to raise the possibility

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that while there might be things wrong with society* there m ight also be something wrong with M iss Chao. Did she sim ply "fa il t o adjust" o r might she have been mentally unbalanced o r mentally i l l ? M ao's own comm itment to life is so great that he cannot con ceiv e o f M iss Chao's ever having actually wanted to die. He m aintains that in the face o f a hostile environment on e's only resou rce is p e r ­ petual struggle fo r its m oral as w ell as its tactical value. T h ese early pre-M arxist habits o f mind persist to shape his later thin kin g. "A Critique o f M iss C hao's Suicide"28 When an event occu rs in society* it cannot be regarded as insignificant. The circum stances o f an event provide all die causes o f its occu rren ce. Y esterday's event was a m ajor one* and its circum stances w ere the rotten m ar­ riage system , the benighted social system , thought which could not be independent and love which could not be fre e . A suicide is determ ined entirely by (he environment. Was M iss Chao's original intention to d ie ? No, it was not. On the contrary it was to liv e . Yet h er final de­ cision to die was forced by her environment. M iss Chao's environment consisted in the follow ing: one, Chinese society; two, the Chao fam ily o f Nanyang Street, Changsha; and three, (he Wu fam ily o f Kantzuyuan, Chang­ sha, the fam ily o f the man she did not want to m arry. These three fa ctors form ed three iron cables which one can imagine as a sort o f three-corn ered cage. Once confined by these three iron cables, no m atter how she tried, there was no way in which she could stay alive. The opposite o f life is death, and so M iss Chao died. . . . If one o f these fa ctors had not been an iron cable, or if she had been set free from the cables, then M iss Chao surely would not have died. F irst, if M iss Chao's parents had not forced her and had allowed M iss Chao the freedom o f her own w ill, then M iss Chao surely would not have died. Second, if M iss C hao's parents had not used fo rce in this m atter, and if they had allowed her to make known her views to her future in-law s, and to explain the reasons fo r her refus­ al, and if, in the end, her future in-law s had com plied with her wishes and had respected her individual freedom ,

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then surely M iss Chao would not have died. And third, even if neither her parents nor her future in-law s had granted her free w ill, had there been in society a very powerful source o f public opinion to support h er, and had there been som e new w orld where the fact o f having run away to seek refuge elsew here was considered hon­ ourable and not dishonourable, then surely M iss Chao would not have died. F or today M iss Chao had died be­ cause she was rigidly confined by the three iron cables (society, her parents and her future in -law s). Having sought in vain fo r life , in the end she sought death. "The E vils o f Society and M iss C h a o "^ The fam ily o f the parents and the fam ily o f the future in­ laws both belong to society. They both constitute a por­ tion o f society. We must realise that while both the fam ily o f the parents and the fam ily o f prospective in­ laws have perpetrated a crim e, the sources o f the crim e exist in society. While these two fam ilies could have com m itted this crim e them selves, the la rger part o f their guilt was transm itted to them by society. M ore­ over, if society w ere good, and they them selves had wanted to perpetrate this crim e, they would not have been able to do so. The editor o f these excerpts continues that Mao said that the ridicu­ lou s matchmaking system which fo rce s people together, the barbaric patriarchal system , and public opinion which takes feudal m orality fo r a guide, are all causes o f the death of M iss Chao, and these are "the peculiar features produced by Chinese s o cie ty ." A ccording to the editor, som e com m entators on the case of M iss Chao main­ tained that she did not endeavour to the utmost to resist and to es­ cape. But Mao pointed out that in such a "ten-thousand evil society" all avenues o f escape w ere blocked. He said that in a village such as h ers, if a young g irl did not approve o f the fiancé her parents had arranged fo r her and ran away with her lov er, within two days she would be caught and forced to go back to her fam ily. A fter rewarding her with a te rrific beating and locking her up, they would still fo rce upon her a so-ca lled "id ea l" m arriage with the doltish fiancé. And public opinion would maintain: "T his has been managed very

18

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w ell; her running o ff like this with lier lover shows that she ha« no sense o f fa c e ." . . . But if you bide your tim e, the fam ily which produced this sort of g irl would truly die o f hum iliation. This young g irl has acted as an extrem ist. Not only did she not fea r great suffering, but also she risked her life in struggling with the devil. Yet what did she have to gain ? As I see it there w ere only three things she could achieve: one, to be "pursued"; another, to be "beaten"; and the third, to be "m ock ed .” . . . Because society p ossesses the "m eans" o f bringing about M iss Chao's death, this society is an extrem ely dangerous thing. If it can cause the death o f M iss Chao, then it could as w ell cause the deaths o f M iss Ch'ien, M iss Sun and M iss LI. And if it can bring about the deaths o f "women, " then it can also bring about the deaths o f "m en. " We numerous potential victim s must be on our guard against this dangerous thing that can in flict a m ortal blow upon us. We must cry out to warn our fellpw human beings who are not yet dead. We must condemn the tenthousand evils o f our society. From the article "A dvice to Boys and G irls on the M arriage Prob­ lem "3® we have only a fragm ent to the effect that Mao warned boy s and g irls all over China about "this tragic event in the bloody city o f Changsha . . . which should arouse them to the depths o f their souls and make them thoroughly aware [o f its im plications] . " M oreover, the editor paraphrases, they should exert total effort in destroying this ten-thousand evil society and in establishing a new society. "The Problem o f Superstitions about M arriage"31 the greatest superstition is the "doctrine o f predestined m a rria g es." . . . As soon as a person drops out o f his m other's belly it is said that his m arriage has been set­ tled. When he grow s up and it is necessary for him to m arry, he him self would never dare to raise the issue o f m arriage. He m erely ca lls upon his parents and the matchmaker to arrange it. One way is fo r him to dis­ cu ss the m arriage with his parents and the matchmaker,

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but even so it has already been settled previously and unquestionably it is all to the good. . . . A ll those couples whose hom es are said to be utterly tranquil have their chests puffed up with the four big characters which make up "predestined m arriage" (hun-yln m ing-ting). Hence they rem em ber such aphorism s as "m arriages made in heaven" and so forth. . . . This sort o f m ar­ riage which com plies with the doctrine o f predestined m arriage accounts fo r approxim ately 80 per cent o f all Chinese m arriages. . . . Because of this doctrine o f predestined m arriage they have other irrational be­ lie fs such as "m arriages made in the womb" and "mak­ ing a match with babe in arm s"; all arise from the sam e basic superstition. Everyone regards this as a sort o f "beautiful destiny. " No one has ever Imagined that it is all a m istake. If you question som eone's reasons h e 'll feed back "predestined m arriage. " . . . "Predestined m arriage is a sort o f com prehensive superstition. B esides it there are a number o f m inor o n e s ." Examples o f the m inor superstitions are "the casting o f h oroscopes, " "exchange o f betrothal documents, " "selection o f a lucky day [fo r the w edding], " "mounting the bridal sedan chair, " "the greeting o f the god o f hap­ pin ess" and the "m arriage cerem ony in the ancestral tem ple. These superstitions are used as a sort o f rope whereby couples are bound together so tightly that they cannot breathe, with the result that in the end they are an absolutely "p erfect m atch ." Mao called upon the people to uproot com pletely the basis o f the thinking o f this senseless m arriage system — the doctrine o f predestined m ar­ riage— and to ca rry out a fam ily revolution. If we launch a campaign fo r (he reform o f the m arriage system , we must firs t destroy all superstitions regard­ ing m arriage, o f Which the m ost important is destruction o f belief in "predestined m arriage. " Once this b elief has been abolished, all support fo r (he policy o f parental arrangement w ill be undermined and the notion o f the "in­ com patibility between husband and w ife" w ill im m ediately appear in society. Once a man and wife dem onstrate in­ com patibility, the arm y o f the fam ily revolution w ill arise en m asse and a great wave o f freedom o f m arriage and freedom o f love w ill break over China.

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20 qo

In "The Problem o f Love— Young People and Old P eople" Mao criticise d the sort o f com pletely self-serv in g policy whereby p a re n ts "track down a daughter-in-law ".and "ch oose a lively e g g ." In an­ other article on M iss Chao, "The Problem o f M iss Chao's P erson­ ality"34 Mao sw ore that "a ll the parents and parents of parents w h ó have been cru el to M iss Chao should go to h e ll!" M ao's provocative a rticles on M iss Chao's suicide w ere in s tr u ­ mental in catapulting the problem o f suicide as a social phenom enon into the central arena o f May Fourth debate. Some epithets which Mao borrow ed and others which he him self contrived in referen ce to M iss Chao w ere taken over by contem porary w riters who expanded upon his view s. Apart from other Journals which w ere debating th e subject, Ta Kung Pao alone published m ore than 20 a rticles on M is s Chao. M ao's stamp is discernible in this random selection o f t it le s from Ta Kung Pao: "A S acrificial Victim o f the R eform o f the M a r­ riage System , " "The T hree- Cornered Iron Cage, " "The Poison o f th e Old Fashioned M arriage System " and "M y Reactions to M iss C hao's S u icid e."35 Other w riters, desperate to preserve the status quo. argued that suicide dem onstrated the "sublim est v irtu e ." Another said that is was "a m ost satisfactory and joyful ev en t."35 This sort o f pat apology fo r the self-annihilating strains o f the m orality o f Chinese womanhood com pelled Mao to w rite his concluding a r tic le in the series on M iss Chao, entitled "Against S u icid e." As in the e a rlier p ieces, he regarded society as the enemy o f the individual; the Individual was good in so fa r as he was able to resist the ev il fo rce s o f society. He im plied that the forces o f society are so totally dominating that the individual could be driven to suicide by society without ever having knowingly o r w illingly Intended to com ­ m it suicide. It is important that in his view suicide is not an anti­ social act, but rather a p ro -so cia l one, fo r it represents a surren­ der to the dominating w ill o f society. However, the individual who understands that life is greater than society can act as his own re ­ deem er. One should com pare this early and highly Independent phase o f his thinking to his later M arxist phase in which he shifts the r o le o f redeem er to the proletarian cla ss and Communist Party. "Against Suicide"37 A person who com m its suicide is not motivated by wanting to seek death. He does not only want to seek death. On the contrary suicide is a m ost emphatic way o f seeking life . The reason why in society there are people who want to com m it suicide is because society seizes their

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"hopes" and utterly destroys them, with the result (hat they are left "com pletely without h op e." When society seizes som eone's hopes and leaves him utterly without hope, then that person inevitably w ill com m it suicide. . . . The m ore society causes people to lose their hopes, then the m ore people in society w ill com m it suicide. The editor notes that Mao analysed the phenomenon o f suicide in such a way that the m otive was always traceable to society. Mao said: "M y attitude towards suicide is one o f com plete re je ctio n ." He presented his reasons as follow s: "F irst, as the goal o f man is to seek life , he should not go against his own nature and seek death. Thus I am 'against s u ic id e '." Second, Mao recognised that although suicide is the result o f society 's totally destroying on e's hopes, he urged nonetheless that "one should struggle against society and fight to regain on e's lost hopes. " One should, m oreover, "die struggling. " "If one k ills on eself struggling, then one is 'm urdered' and has not 'com m itted su icid e'. " Third, Mao recognised that the reason why people resp ect m artyrs through suicide is not because they respect suicide as such, but rather because they stand in awe o f the fea r­ le s s spirit o f "resistin g tyranny. " However, Mao pointed out that the fea rless spirit o f resistin g tyranny should m anifest itse lf in the struggle against evil forces and should not m anifest itself in suicide. He concluded: Rather than die by suicide, one should die only after re ­ len tless struggle. The goal o f struggle does not lie in "wanting somebody else to m urder m e ," but rather it lie s in "rea lisin g on e's own life potential." If in the end one does not succeed, on e's energies are wholly spent and one dies in battle like the lost jade, this, then is true courage and the sort o f tragedy which should be m ost satisfying to men. Several contem porary articles on suicide throw M ao's writings into greater re lie f. As the subject o f suicide burst into the May Fourth arena, so did the fact; they w ere mutually reinforcin g phe­ nomena. F or m em bers o f the younger generation such as Mao, Chou E n-lai and his w ife Teng Y in g-ch 'ao, T s'a i Ch'ang and many other o f China's future leaders, the tensions generated by the May Fourth Incident w ere the cause o f exhilaration and great personal growth. F or others they spelled disaster. A typical example was Lin T e-yang, a tubercular student at Peita who exhausted him self

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W1TKE

physically in campaigns to boycott Japanese Im ports and spiritu ally in (be struggle to define his own identity. On Novem ber 17» 1919 he com m itted suicide. L in 's suicide spawned numerous articles» rep lies and rebuttals in several journals. M ost o f these m aintained that suicide was sym ptom atic o f a whole spectrum o f social ills which could be cured by various degrees o f reform and revolution. At this juncture Dewey predicted to Chiang M on-lln that what he term ed the "intellectual revolution" would bring about the suicides o f a great many Chinese young p eop le.38 Dewey was right. The several hundreds of articles in the M ay Fourth literature on suicide and related topics showed that the ava­ tars o f the New Thought had developed a nose fo r youthful su icid es fo r m odern causes and a fascination fo r dissecting the m orbid sui­ cidal streak in the old thought and disintegrating culture. Other studies o f suicide took shape as fiction . Many sketches and short stories in this vein w ere part o f the May Fourth-inspired m ovem ent to establish "vernacular literature. "39 Four ca ses taken from co n ­ tem porary journals and based on actual events not only help to put M ao's w ritings on suicide in perspective» but also provide internal evidence fo r the validity o f his w ritings to which we have a ccess only through secondary sou rces. The fir s t three» M iss Chao Ting» M iss I I Chao and M iss YOan Shung-ying, died. The fourth» M iss Li C hl-ts'un, represents the revolutionary and modern alternative fo r she rejected suicide and resolved to lead her own life in defi­ ance o f socia l convention. At two a. m. on the m orning o f September 18, 1919 M iss Chao Ying jumped from the upper-storey o f her Shanghai hom e, suffered m ultiple fractu res and died in the hospital three weeks later. Be­ cause o f tremendous public concern her correspondence was assem ­ bled and published im m ediately. It revealed how profoundly she had been affected by the literature on fem ale emancipation in the years 1918-19 and how as a result she becam e totally antagonistic to the fam ily system and to her parents' attempts to m arry her o ff in the conventional fashion. She chose to live alone and pursue a m odern education. While she was in sch ools in Nlngpo and Shanghai she fell under the influence o f several teachers who w ere Buddhists. Her correspondence showed that-the hallucinations she suffered a few days before she attempted suicide had Buddhist content. Thus, despite the m odernity o f her schools and her own intellectual orien ­ tation, the religious o r sym bolic justification o f her suicide appears to have been the tim eless Buddhist one. However, the conditions

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'which drove h er to suicide had a sp ecifica lly modern cast. The nearly identical polem ical style o f a passage from Mao and another from file w riter on M iss Chao T in g 's suicide* who signs him self WaUnn Lu, suggests strongly that they both w ere w riting at about the sam e tim e. M iss Chao Y in g's death occu rred on O ctober 10» 1919. Judging from other cases o f reportage on suicide and from the im m ediacy and freshness o f Hsttan L u's treatment» one might assum e that his article was produced within a week o r so after the event. M iss C hao's suicide occu rred on November 14» 1919, and Mao began to publish his series o f articles on it two days la ter. Thus it is m ost likely that Mao read Hsttan Lu and im itated him . However, if HsOan Lu lagged somewhat in reporting the event, it is possible that he copied Mao, though this seem s le ss lik ely. Or perhaps the striking sim ilarity was purely fortuitous. HsOan w rote o f M iss Chao Ting: She is dead I If she had never lived with her fam ily, she would not have died. Y et living with this fam ily, if her sister had not persecuted h er, she would not have died. . . • Had she been educated, yet not be­ sieged by the noxious influences o f false form s o f new thought, she would not have died. Had she not been enticed by Buddhism, she perhaps would not have died. Com pare this poleipical treatment o f conditions o f inevitability with the passage in M ao's "A Critique o f M iss Chao's Suicide" which be­ gins: "If one o f these three fa ctors had not been an iron cable, o r i f she had been set free from the cables, then M iss Chao surely would not have died. . . . " The resem blance between Mao and HsOan 1m does not stop at rh etoric, but is evident in the conceptual basis as w ell, lik e Mao, HsOan Lu traces all noxious influences to a concept o f "environm ent" which is coeval with "society . " Both use the epithet "ten-thousand evil s o cie ty ." Parents, teachers and frien ds, who are m anifestly the sou rces o f traditional social custom s and b eliefs, are in fact no m ore than agents fo r the overwhelm ing fo rce s o f society. So, mem­ b ers o f the old er generation cannot logica lly be regarded as being ultim ately responsible fo r their actions; how ever, both Mao and HsOan Lu w ere nonetheless bitterly critica l o f them. What was fun­ damentally wrong with the old er generation was that it was fatalistic.

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Rallier than assum e responsibility fo r its own actions and fo r s o c ie t y as a whole, it shifted the onus o f responsibility fo r human e r r o r an d suffering onto fate. In the view o f Mao, Hstlan Lu and other m e m ­ bers o f the May Fourth generation who strove to defy fate and to change the w orld, fatalism explained China's disastrous state o f c o l ­ lapse in the early republican era. In D ecem ber 1919, one month after the suicide o f M iss Chao in Changsha, the death in Peking o f M iss Li Chao becam e a cau se célèbre in Hsin Ch'ao (New T ide). Like the other young women w h o died tragic deaths, M iss Li was not a particularly distinguished p e r ­ son; her case is im portant ju st because it was typical rather than rare. M iss L i's m other died when she was very young and she w a s raised by her fath er's concubine. Because no son had been born either to the firs t w ife o r to the concubine, M s s L i's father adopted a son. Upon the death o f the father, the adoptive son, as was cu s ­ tom ary, becam e the sole h eir to the estate, which was con sid erab le. When M s s Li reached her late teens the adoptive son, in loco pa­ rentis. arranged a m arriage fo r h er. However, M s s LI, who w as maturing in an age when alternatives to arranged matches and to the fam ily system in general w ere beginning to em erge, found fam ­ ily life tedious and her proposed husband odious. S ie abandoned her home in Kwangsi and made h er way firs t to Kwangchow where she studied and later, in September 1918, to the National Higher Normal School fo r G irls in Peking. Once M s s Li ran away from home her adoptive broth er's only rem aining means o f controlling her was the purse. He refused to send her any money fo r living expenses o r school fees. Although g irl friends gave her money from tim e to tim e, she was sca rcely able to make ends m eet. Prolonged hardship had so weakened her that by the winter o f 1918 she was stricken with tuberculosis, hospitalised, and died in August 1919.41 Hu Shlh, Ch'en Tu-hsiu, T s'a i YUen-p'ei and others wrote lengthy a rticles analysing the social conditions which could allow a tragedy like M s s L i's to occu r. In Hu Shih's estim ation the roots o f the problem lay in the autocratic manner o f the fam ily head, in this case the adoptive son; the need fo r g irls to have -access to ed­ ucation without having to risk their liv es; the need to reform inher­ itance laws so that fem ale as w ell as m ale children could becom e h eirs o r share the inheritance; and the injustice of the daughters not being able to ca rry on the fam ily lin e .42 In his article "P a triarchalism and the System o f Inheritance" Ch'en Tu-hsiu was m ore

WOMEN & SUICIDE

25

ruthless and to (he point. He argued that in so far as M iss Li was lega lly unable to inherit property, she was in effect m erely an ac­ ce sso ry o f the household, a portion o f the property to which die adoptive son fe ll h eir. Ch'en claim ed that this sort o f patriarchal system , like a m atriarchal system , was anachronistic in the modern age. Like Mao he regarded individuals who collaborated with this "ten-thousand evil society" as ev il, and individuals who w ere weak, persecuted and struggling against it as essentially g ood .4** In 1920 T s'a i Yttan-p'ei declared that the problem s could be reduced to a question o f econom y; i f the state provided equal education opportu­ nities fo r all children to elim inate discrim ination on financial grounds, these problem s would be solved .44 In O ctober 1920, 11 months after the suicide o f M iss Chao o f Changsha, the suicide o f M iss YUan Shun-ying was hailed by contem ­ porary w riters as one o f the sensational cases o f the tim e.45 M iss Yttan's suicide was handled like a case study but differed from M ao's treatm ent o f M iss Chao in its m ore psychological approach. It fo ­ cused upon con flicts within individuals between the values o f the old and new societies. The case involved a man, Li C h'en-p'eng, who had both a cla ssica l education and som e m astery o f English, and his w ife, YUan Shun-ying, a sim ple country girl whom he had m ar­ ried by arrangement at an early age. Once his own horizons began to broaden he wanted to transform his w ife into a modern woman with a city education. The con flicts which resulted In the w ife's suicide arose from two areas o f misunderstanding. F irst, the wife was evidently not clev er enough to keep up with the course o f study at the illustrious Chou-nan G irls' Middle School in Changsha. The second grew out o f the husband's notion o f "fa ce . " Although he wanted to fo rce his wife through sophisticated levels o f education, he was afraid o f humiliation because of her humble origins and un­ certain abilities. So at Chou-nan where he taught English and she studied, he pretended that she was his cousin, not his w ife. M ore­ ov er, he refused to live with her and accepted com m unications from her only by m ail. A fter an incredible series of deceptions on the part o f the husband, the w ife sank into nervous collapse and finally drowned h erself in the pond at the Chou-nan school. Two days later her body was discovered and fished out by a fellow student, and the school was thrown into a c r is is . When the alleged cousin, now re­ vealed as the husband was summoned to identify h er, his firs t re ­ mark was: 'I t was inevitable that she should die, but she should have died in the country . . . fo r by dying in the city she has caused me to lose fa c e t" He sw iftly destroyed her suicide note

26

WITKE

and personal papers before the arrival o f the p olice. These w ere the bare essentials of the case. W riters fo r Chueh-wu (Awakening), the influential Journal o f the May Fourth era published by Min-kuo lih-pao (Republican Dally) o f Shanghai, mined M iss YUan's suicide fo r illustrations of the m ost com pellin g contem porary issu es: the tyranny o f the m arriage system , inad­ equacies o f the educational system , lack o f freedom o f d ivorce, th e double standard of m orality fo r men and women, and selfishness and vanity in the old -sch ool Chinese husband. The case o f M iss Li C hl-ts'un, which might have resulted in suicide but did not. serves as contrast to the rest. Her story w as publicised in February 1920. three months after the case o f M iss Chao. Because M iss Li was intensely opposed to the match ar­ ranged by her parents, she ran away from her home in Changsha to Peking where she joined the Work-Study Program m e. Her fa th er, who subscribed to the traditional form ula regarding women, "stupid­ ity is the only v irtu e ," was furious that he had ever let his w ife have her own way in sending their daughter to a loca l g ir ls ' sch ool som e years e a rlie r. His outrage at his daugher's revolt and flight to Peking was so notorious that it becam e a public issu e. The student p ress argued that M iss Li exem plified the spirit o f "stru g g le" (shih-hsing tou-cheng): too many g irls and boys m erely talk about struggle and in the end are crushed by their social environment; M iss Li had shown how to struggle to the utmost against the socia l environment. M iss Li C h i-ts'u n 's case becam e a public issue three months too late fo r Mao to com m ent on it in his articles on M iss C hao's suicide. N evertheless, in the term s set up by Mao, M iss Chao is vindicated by M iss Li. Whereas M iss Chao, faced with an odious m arriage, gave up the ghost in the traditional manner by cutting her throat, M iss Li threw h erself into relentless struggle against all opposition. M iss L i's total rejection o f the fam ily principle by running away from home and joining a school in the capital city was the activist, life-orien ted and modern resolution to the sam e problem from which the weaker, tradition-bound g irl could retreat only by self-annihilation. The same contempt fo r all form s o f subjugation and the same involvem ent in struggle, have, o f cou rse, character­ ised M ao's own life .

27

WOMEN & SUICIDE

NOTES

1.

Chou Shih-chao, "M y R ecollections of Chairman Mao in Chang­ sha before and after the May Fourth Movement, " Kung-len jih pao [W orkers' D aily], 20 A pril 1959, translated in Survey o f China Mainland P ress (hereafter SCMP) (Hong Kong: U. S. Consulate-General), No. 2011 (12 May 1959).

2.

Hunan li-s h ih tz'u -lia o [Hunan H istorical M aterials] (hereafter HNL5TL). No. 4 (1959); W u-ssu sh ih -ch 'i shih-k'an chieh-shao [An Introduction to the P eriodicals o f the May Fourth E ra] (hereafter WSSC), 2 v ols. (Peking: 1958-59). Chou Shihchao, op. c i t ., also contains passages from M ao's writings on M iss Chao.

3.

Edgar Snow, Journey to the Beginning (New York: House, 1958), p. 165.

4.

Yang C h'ang-chi, "N otes on Reform ing the Fam ily Institution," Chia-yin tsa-chih [The T iger M agazine], I, June 1915, p. 6.

5.

WSSC, 1:151. See also Stuart Schram, Mao Tse-tung (London: Penguin, 1966), p. 63.

6.

Helen F oster Snow, Women in Modern China (The Hague: Mouton, 1967), p. 235.

7.

Ib id ., p . 236.

8.

Edgar Snow, Red Star over China (New York: 1938), pp. 144-145.

9.

Chou Shih-chao, op. cit.

10.

WSSC, 1:155.

11.

Helen Snow, op. cit. , p. 236.

Random

Random House,

W ITK E

28

13.

C ollected Correspondence o f the M embers o f the New P eople’ s Study Society, n, in WSSC, 1:155.

14.

C ollected C orrespondence. HI, Ibid.

15.

Ta Kiing Pao. 8 June 1919, in HNLSTL. No. 1 (1959):52-53.

15a. HNLSTL. No. 3 (1959):6-7. In his article "Som e Basic E r r o r s in my Countrymen's 'V iew o f L ife' and 'V iew o f D eath*'" fir s t delivered as a lecture to the Society fo r Establishing Study (Chien hstteh hui), then published in Ta K ing Pao (Changsha), 24-30 June 1919* and reproduced in HNLSTL, No. 4 (1960): 20-23* Chu Chien-fan depicted his fellow Chinese as being s o possessed by notions o f "fate" that they resisted evolution and p rog ress. Because o f Chu's reputation it is m ost likely that Mao was fam iliar with these view s. M ao's own articles on M iss Chao's suicide take sim ilar issue with the sort o f Chi­ nese fatalism which constrains China in the deathlike clutch o f the past and inhibits progressive attitudes towards life and the future. 16.

Helen Snow* op. cit. , p. 191.

17.

Ta Rung Pao. 12 June 1919, in HNLSTL. No.

1 (1959):29.

18.

Ta Kune Pao. 18 June 1919, in HNLSTL. No.

1 (1959):34-35.

19.

See Hsiang-chiang p'ing-lun. table o f contents, in WSSC. 1:547549.

20.

Hsiang-chiang p'ing-lun. issues 2* 3, and 4 . F or the text o f this a rticle, see WSSC. 1:147. See also Stuart Schram, The P olitical Thought of Mao Tse-tung (New Y ork: P raeger, 1963), pp. 170-171.

21.

HNLSTL. No. 3 (1959):16. The term "m an-eating feudal m or­ ality" was originally popularised by Lu Hsun.

22.

Ibid.

23.

Ibid.

24.

Chow T se-tsung, R esearch Guide to the May Fourth Movement (Cam bridge, M a ss.: Harvard University P ress, 1964).

29

W O M EN 6 SUICIDE

25.

WSSC. 11:356.

26.

Chow, op. c i t .. p. 64.

27.

Chou Shih-chao, op. cit. Another periodical source on the woman problem in Hunan during this period was T 'i-yU choupao (Tournai o f Physical Education], organised by Huang Hsing, a physical education instructor o f the Chu Chih Prim ary School, Changsha, who was broadly known fo r his literary and cultural in terests. His journal, intended to introduce New Thought into Hunan, published 40 issu es. Many o f its a rticles argued the im portance o f physical education fo r women, as did other periodicals on the May Fourth era [HNLSTL. No. 3 (1959) :6. See also WSSC, H :356]. In the June 1917 issue o f Hsin c h 'ine­ nien [New Youth] Mao published "A Study o f Physical Education" in which he maintained that physical education was not only a personal means o f self-strengthening, physical and m oral, but also a way o f strengthening the nation (see Stuart Schram 's translation, Mao Ze-dong. une étude de l'éducation physique. P aris: Colin, 1962). In the light o f this and his concerns with (he woman problem in general it is likely that he was a contributor to T 'i-ytt chou-pao. However, this is not presently ascertainable because neither its table o f contents nor a rticles have been made known outside China.

28.

Ta Kung Pao. 16 Novem ber 1919, in H N ISTL. No. 4 (1959):28. A le ss com plete version but identical in the Chinese with the HNLSTL record where excerpts are extant may be found in Chou Shih-chao, op. cit. Stuart Schram has made a selective and com posite translation o f the series on M iss Chao using both (he above sources in Mao Tse-tung, textes traduits et présentés par Stuart Schram (P a ris: Mouton, 1963), pp. 287290.

29.

Ta Kung Pao, in HNLSTL. No. 4 (1959):28-29. A le s s e r por­ tion o f the same article, including the last three sentences which are not found in HNLSTL. appear in Chou Shih-chao, SCMP. op. cit. . p. 6.

30.

Ta Kune Pao. 19 Novem ber 1919, in HNISTL. No. 4 (1959):29.

31.

Ib id ., pp. 29-30. this text.

Chou Shih-chao, op. c i t ., p reserves part o f

W ITKE

30

32.

F or the figurative translation o f these traditional expression s regarding m arriage I am indebted to the SCMP translator o f Chou Shih-chao.

33.

Ta Rung Pao, in HNL3TL. No. 4 (1959):30-31.

34.

Ibid. , p. 31.

35.

"The Public Debate o f M iss Chao's S u icid e," Ta Rung P ao. 20 November 1919, in HNLSTL. No. 4 (1959):32-33. See also Chou Shih-chao, op. cit.

36.

HNLSTL. No. 4 (1959):31.

37.

Ta Rung Pao, 30 November 1919, Ibid. Chou Shih-chao, op . c i t ., preserves som e passages of the above.

38.

Ch'en Tu-hsiu, "On S u icid e," 1 January 1920, in Tu-hsiu w e n ts'un [C ollected W orks o f Ch'en Tu-hsiu] (Shanghai: 1922), I , pp. 391-416.

39.

Chih H si, "D oes Youth Commit Suicide o r D oes Society M urder Y outh?" Hein ch 'ao [New T id e ], n , D ecem ber 1919, p. 2. A cla ssic example o f new fiction in the vernacular on this su b ject is Lu H8un's "A New Y ea r's S a crifice" in C ollected Stories o f Lu Hsun (Peking: Foreign Languages P ress, 1954), pp. 95-118. Yang C h'en-sheng's story "The Chaste G ir l," which appeared in the June 1920 issue o f Hsin ch'ao (H, p. 5), is a le ss known but equally representative exam ple o f fiction o f this type. Y ang's story, an uneasy m ixture o f sentiment and h orror, is about a "chaste g irl" whose fiancé died before the wedding. Nonetheless she is forced to go through with the entire ce re ­ mony, the groom being represented by his dead body, and to spend the wedding night in the bridal cham ber keeping vigil over the body. The next m orning she is found dead o f un­ specified causes.

40.

Hsttan Lu, "Chao Ying, a G irl who Died within S ociety ," NUhsing w en -t'l [P roblem s of W om en], ed. Mei Sheng (Shanghai: Hsin Wen Hua Shu She, 1934), V ol. VI, pp. 153-162.

41

Ibid. , p. 160.

W OM EN 6 SUICIDE

31

42.

The facts o f her life history w ere originally com piled by Su Chia-ying. They w ere presented by Hu Shih along with his own critica l analysis of her suicide in his article "The Biog­ raphy o f Li C h ao," Hsin ch 'a o, H, D ecem ber 1919, p. 2.

43.

Gh'en Tu-hsiu, ''Patriarchalism and the System o f Inheritance, " Tu-hsiu w en-ts'un. H, pp. 86-89.

44.

T s'a i Yttan-p'ei, "A Talk in Commemoration o f M iss Li C h a o," T s'a i T se-m in hsien-sheng yen-hsing lu [The C ollected Speeches o f T s'a i T se-m in (T s'a i YU an-p'ei)] (Peking: Peking University P ress, 1920), pp. 465-468.

45.

[Shao] Li Tzu, "The Suicide Case o f M iss YUan Shun-ylng o f Changsha," NU-hsing w en -t'i. Vol. VI, pp. 170-176.

46.

Hsiian Lu, op. cit.

47.

An article on M iss Li C hi-ts'un by an author who signs him­ se lf m erely "J e " in Ta Rung Pao, 17 February 1920, in HNLSTL. No. 4 (1959):33-35.

Woman as Politician in China of the 1920s Roxane Witke

The decade of the twenties was both a peak in the development o f modern Chinese fem inism , and a point o f departure fo r w ider are­ nas of w om en's liberation. This b rie f survey w ill track som e m ajor currents in the whirlwind o f change in the liv es o f women, and som e new directions taken by those who chose a political way, as opposed to a literary, sexual o r other individual way o f lib era tion .1 A rem ark­ able trait o f politically motivated Chinese women was that the m ost avant-garde would not be arrested at the fem inist stage o f struggle fo r suffrage and w om en's rights. The m ost radical among them were not bound by self-con sciou sn ess o r self-im portance as fem ales putting w om en's issu es at the forefron t. They chose rather to set aside what seem ed to them to be partisan sexual issu es and to devote their liv e s to the various revolutionary movements which eventually would ca rry China from Confucianism to Communism. Or in the language o f the v icto rs, their struggles at a turning point in h istoiy helped to prom ote China from the bourgeois to the socia list stage o f the Chi­ nese revolution. H istorical consciousness o f the role o f women in the Chinese revolution has lagged in the W est. Although native Chinese histo­ rians o f various political persuasians have recounted som e aspects o f the role o f women in the making o f modern China, the main­ stream m asculinity o f W estern historiography has bypassed the fem i­ nine current on China's side. Despite this neglect on the part o f foreign historians, the breakaway o f radical m inorities o f Chinese women from the domain o f fam ily kept inviolate by the Confucian etiios was paralleled and supported by other phases o f liberation made m ore conspicuous by the dictates o f historical fashion: na­ tional liberation o f Han Chinese from Manchu overlords; social lib ­ eration o f sons from fathers, youths from eld ers, and individuals from fam ily; and intellectual liberation of new m odes o f thought from the thrall o f Confucian orthodoxy. 33

34

W ITK E

Though required fo r argument, it is too obvious to mention that the political elite o f old China was always m ale. Even with­ in the tradition o f Confortan political values, men w ere able to strain against orthodoxy by officia lly dissenting o r by privately tak­ ing T aoist direction s. While women vied fo r power and position within the fam ily structure, their political arts w ere never exer­ cised beyond dom estic confines. When they firs t broke into the public domain and looked fo r political signals, they could choose only the roads to the left. In the early twentieth century die p o­ litica l le ft was an uneasy m ixture o f nationalism , an ti-im p erialism , anarchism , republicanism , dem ocracy, and various socialism s. The women who branched out into p olitics in the teens and the twenties ranged from die conservative left o f w om en's rightists whose campaigns stopped short at upgrading their legal status in the em ergent Republic, to women o f the radical left who exhorted the fem ale m asses to forget sex struggles and other narrowly po­ litica l debates, and instead to throw them selves into the work o f cla ss struggle fo r socia list revolution. The upsurge o f women politicians went back to the turn o f the century when women fir s t sprang into the public arena with a total­ ly unprecedented repertoire o f social and political roles: as girl stu­ dents m odernly educated outside the hom e; as teachers in the fr e s h ­ ly established education system ; as publicists in die revolutionary p ress which included som e am bitious journals prim arily by women but fo r the political benefit o f men and women; as anarchists and assassin s; and corporately, as m asculinely uniform ed m em bers o f the W om en's National Arm y, the W om en's D are-to-D ie C orps, and the W om en's A ssassination Corps which joined fo rce s with male troops against the dynasty in its final decade. The delivery o f the Han nation from M anch» rule in 1911 marked a form al change o f political structure, but alm ost no im ­ mediate change o f social structure. Now as freshly minted "c iti­ z e n s ," women who had risked their liv es to establish a Republic found the realities o f their personal and social liv es not dram ati­ cally transform ed. lik e the Am erican women o f the m id-nine­ teenth century who made their fir s t public stance on the abolition issu e, and then tackled the problem o f their own political status in a suffrage movement, so also many o f the Chinese women who had com e into political consciousness in the revolutionary cam ­ paigns against the Manchus now turned against the Han patriarch s, and set into m otion China's fir s t w om en's rights movement.

W OM AN AS POLITICIAN: 1920s

35

The fir s t stage o f the w om en's rights movement began within a few months o f the establishm ent o f the Republic in 1912. At this poin t several o f the w om en's arm ies transform ed them selves direct­ l y into suffrage societies, while even m ore organizations w ere quick­ ly com posed o f women who had no previous m ilitary experience. In the Chinese historical literature, this firs t stage o f what I have ca lled the "w om en's rights m ovem ent" has two designations; either ntt-ch'llan ylln-tung, meaning literally, "w om en's rights movement, " o r ts'an-cheng vtln-tung. file "suffrage movement, " though it is too im posing o f our own cultural perspectives to re fe r to its participants b y the fem inizing English term , "su ffra g ette." Although Sun Y at-sen was not an active prom oter o f w om en's rights in his own right, during his b rief tenure as President in 1912 the newly founded w om en's organizations devoted them selves both to supporting the Republic and to securing equal rights under the draft constitution. The names o f these organizations reflect their strident seriousness o f purpose: the Shanghai Society o f Com rades fo r Woman Suffrage, the Woman Suffrage Rearguard Society, the W om en's M ili­ tant Society, the W omen's A lliance, the W om en's Peace Society, the Society fo r the Support o f Equal Rights fo r Men and Women, and the Women C itizen's Society. On January 22, 1912, representatives o f w om en's groups from eighteen provinces m et at Nanking to establish the Woman Suffrage A lliance, an overall coordinating organization which would serve as a lobby in the national legislature slated to be convened. Among its long-range goals w ere equal rights fo r men and women, univer­ sal education fo r women, reform o f fam ily custom s, monogamy, .the prohibition o f com m erce in women, and freely contracted m arriages asHa means o f averting "sen seless" divorces. 2 When each o f these and other related issu es resurfaced among the cardinal topics o f May Fourth debate som e seven years la ter, the near im possibility o f bringing about radical social and institutional change solely through legislative fiat was painfully evident. The petition submitted by representatives o f the Woman Suffrage Alliance took note o f the unevenness o f China's revolution to date: that the p olitical revolution had taken precedence ov er socia l revolu­ tion, whose prim ary goal should be to ensure through woman suffrage the equality o f men and women. But when file Legislature handed down the Provisional Constitution o f May 11, 1912, it did not include a clause guaranteeing m ale-fem ale equality. Eight days later the

36

W IT K E

petition was resubm itted to President Sun. The Legislature te m p o ­ rized , and prom ised vaguely that it would look into the m atter. Thoroughly outraged, the women petitioners burst into an u p roa ri­ ous dem onstration before the legisla tors. Overnight they r e c r u ite d numerous supporters who joined fo rce s with them the next day in storm ing the Legislature, smashing windows and trampling the m il­ itary guard. News o f the outbreak o f fem ale violence rocked the entire nation, to say nothing o f the foreign m inistries, which w e r e quite shaken by oriental shades o f the Parliam ent-storm ing London suffragettes.3 The w om en's outrage o f March 20 flared spectacularly but f i z ­ zled because in number and in public appeal they w ere slight. N ev­ erth eless, their example provoked scattered coteries o f women in the provinces to submit their demands. Beginning in Kiangsu w om en's groups in m ost provinces submitted com parable petitions to their p r o ­ vincial assem blies. Typically in the p olitical avant-garde, Kwangtung was the only province where women actually secured a lim ited fra n ­ chise and began to build up a contigent of women representatives in the legislative assem bly. * The failure o f Republican ideals after the second revolution o f 1913 caused both a short-term revival o f m ilitary action on the part o f women as w ell as a tem porary shift o f w om en's in terests away from the political arena. As Yttan Shih-k'ai conspired an im ­ perial renaissance in the wake o f Sun's abdication from the p resi­ dency, the dem ocratic ideals o f the fledgling Republic w ere quietly crushed. Women m em bers o f the Revolutionary Party w ere either brought to subm ission o r expelled. Suddenly deprived o f a political foothold, the m ost radical women o f Yttan's opposition resorted again to m ilitary means of attaining political goals. In the course o f the second revolution som e joined the National Arm y and others the As­ sassination C orps, again outfitting and equipping them selves the same as m ale sold iers. Despite these outbreaks o f political m ilitance and m ilitary ac­ tion on the part o f a m inority o f radical women in the firs t Republi­ can decade, there is little reason to believe that many w ere opting fo r m ilitary ca reers. In this respect they differed from the swell­ ing ranks o f young men who w ere asserting anti-traditlonal roles by choosing m ilitary over conventionally high-status ca reers in the civil serv ice, ancient o r m odern. In the course o f the Northern Expedi­ tion o f the late twenties mounting frustration on the part o f révolu-

WOMAN AS POLITICIAN: 1920s

37

tlonary women and men would fo rce this to change. The flamboyant g irl sold ier Hsieh Ping-ying is a w ell-celebrated example o f growing ranks o f Kuomintang and Communist women who would choose the m odern m ilitary o r traditional gu errilla w arfare now revived as a way o f life . But after both the firs t and the second stages o f the Republican revolution m ost o f the w om en's contingents laid down their arm s and dispersed to the field s o f education, journalism , and w riting, where their political v oices w ere barely audible fo r several yea rs. Although efforts to legislate woman suffrage and w om en's rights w ere abortive in the opening years o f the Republic, the issu es resu r­ faced in the polem ics of the May Fourth era where they w ere linked to borrow ed liberal values o f individualism , equality, and indepen­ dence. In his rousing essay o f 1916, "Confucianism and Modern L ife, "5 Ch'en Tu-hsiu argued that the Confucian codes of filia l piety and the corresponding fem inine rule o f "three obediences" w ere to­ tally inappropriate in modern nations governed by rival political par­ ties. Since the Confucian codes ruled out intellectual and m oral in­ dependence, an independent act o f political comm itment in the form o f the vote was im possible. He advised women who w ere determ ined to free them selves from the old social order to seize upon the right to vote as the m ost effective means o f insubordination. Another great spokesman fo r May Fourth values, Li T a-chao, conceptualized the problem o f woman suffrage within his w orld view derived from h istorical M arxism . He acknowledged that both the working w om en's movement and the w om en's rights movement w ere slow to get under way in China, and that they w ere contradictory in a Marxian sense. N evertheless, the two should cooperate in the short run, and men should cease to consider women as their infe­ r io r s . 6 The m ost articulate liberal spokesman, Hu Shih, proposed a m ildly jesting solution to the w om en's rights problem . Employing the Hobbesian metaphor o f the body p olitic, he claim ed that Chinese society was sem i-paralyzed: the m ale half robust and the fem ale half inoperative, a condition seriously handicapping China as a whole. By changing only one word o f the Constitution, he said, com plete equality could be brought about. If, in the passage which ran, "Fan vu Chung-hna m in-kuo kuo-chl chih nan-tzu" the character tzu (suffix to "m an") w ere changed to nU (woman), fem ale equality would be as­ sured on paper at least. ^ Of course his constitutional word games w ere not spelled out into h istorical realities.

38

W IT K E

Other May Fourth w riters espoused the cause o f woman s u ffr a g e fo r reasons which also revealed sp ecific Chinese cultural p reoccu p a ­ tions. The younger brother o f Mao Tse-tung, Mao T se-m ln , who made the history o f woman suffrage in the W est his special c o n c e rn , indicated that its m ajor value would be to make women m ore r e sp o n ­ sible as human b ein gs.8 A somewhat different though equally p a tron ­ izing tack was taken by the socia list c r itic , TU Huan-tou, who r e c o m ­ mended woman suffrage as an antidote to the ’ ’typical” fem ale v ic e s o f dependency, superstition, jealousy, prejudice, and con servatism . Once given the vote, women presum ably would exhibit the "m a scu lin e" virtues o f independence, courage, creativity, generosity, etc. W oman suffrage would also benefit dom estic p olitics by im plementing s o cia l w elfare and reform program s. And by developing sympathies am ong women o f other nations, suffrage would prom ote w orld p e a ce .8 But May Fourth rhetoric belonged m ore to the w orld o f thought than o f action. The w om en's suffrage movement, which was a m atter o f action, had a separate though uneven momentum. Its pacing w as linked to the urban centers o f political transform ation. The firs t stage o f die w om en's suffrage movement had flared and faded with the campaign to establish an effective national government in 19111912. The second and final stage o f a decade hence was linked to the provincial autonomy movement. Sparked by the intellectual de­ bate o f the May Fourth Movement, the second stage o f the suffrage movement began in Hunan and Kwangtung where the provincial auton­ om y movements w ere m ost vigorous. Founded in Hunan and Kwang­ tung, the Woman Suffrage A lliance spread rapidly to other capitals where provincial autonomy movements had gained momentum. Among the A llian ce's firs t accom plishm ents was to send a woman delegate to toe International W om en's Suffrage Conference in Switzerland in 1920. Perhaps under W estern influence it was assum ed that politically re ­ sponsible women w ere better geared than men to break away from national isolation and to m ove toward international understanding.*8 The political tactics adopted by toe Hunanese women showed that they regarded the right to vote as a means to other fem inist ends. The Hunan W om en's A lliance was established in February 1921 as a means o f coordinating public dem onstrations and o f mount­ ing demands fo r free m arriage and other personal freedom s fo r women. Its so-ca lled "five proposal m ovem ent" sought the follow ­ ing rights fo r women: equal rights o f property inheritance, the right to vote and to be elected to o ffice , equal rights to education and to w ork, and toe right o f self-determ ination in m arriage, i . e . ,

W OM AN AS POLITICIAN: 1920s

39

" fr e e m a rria g e." Sty D ecem ber 1921 the "fiv e proposal movement" had secured several o f these rights in Hunan's provincial constitu­ tion . including the right to vote and to be elected to the provincial leg isla tu re, as indeed several women im m ediately w ere. The suc­ c e s s o f Hunan's w om en's rights movement provoked sim ilar cam ­ paigns in Chekiang and Kwangtung, and eventuaUy in other prov­ in ce s . 11 The m ost am bitious o f the newly elected women looked to seats in the National A ssem bly as their ultimate goal. ^ Predictably, fem inine su ccess triggered m asculine cynicism . Som e w ry observers o f the election o f Hunanese women to public o ffic e quipped that all this proved was that women now w ere exhib­ itin g the Confucian m ale's cla ssic infatuation with "the spirit o f be­ com ing an o fficia l. To be sure, the m ost zealous o f the new wom en politicians held high hopes, and fu lly expected theirs to be a firs t step in the total reform o f Chinese society and government. H owever, if we com pare cross-cu ltu ra lly , it is evident that women politician s o f all stripes in modern China have m anifested much le s s o f the m essianic fem inist notion that only women can set the w orld aright than have their Protestant-inspired counterparts in the W est. Attempts to secu re legal guarantee o f m ale-fem ale equality w ere made also at the capital. When Li YUan-hung's Peking gov­ ernm ent convened the Constitution Conference in the sum m er o f 1922, women students newly admitted to the University o f Peking, a m ale enclave until 1919, and students o f the prestigious W omen's Higher Normal School, seized the opportunity to have a clause o f m ale-fem ale equality written into the Constitution. They collabo­ rated in establishing two organizations, the Society fo r the Prom o­ tion o f Woman Suffrage and the Alliance fo r the W om en's Rights Movement. T heir demands w ere fa irly elaborate form ulations o f the liberal ideals o f freedom , equality, suffrage, and em ancipation. Although both Peking groups failed in their campaign to alter the Constitution in favor o f woman suffrage, as in the case o f the o rig ­ inal w om en's rightists o f Hunan and Kwangtung, the fo rce o f the Peking exam ple led women o f the outlying provinces to pursue their own constitutionally established equality. 4 Interestingly, tw o-thirds o f the original m em bership o f the Peking A lliance fo r the W om en's Rights Movement was m ale, a fact which cam e as a surprise even to contem porary observers o f the p olitical scene. This fits in with other evidence showing that in the early twentieth century the issue o f w om en's emancipation

40

W ITKE

was supported as much o r m ore by men than by women. Not u n ­ til fem inist ideals gained broad acceptance among the intellectual elite o f the la ter twenties did women take over the leadership and fid l-sca le management o f the w om en's movement which dien fanned out in a com plex array o f organizations and alliances pursuing v a r ­ ious purely fem inist, Nationalist, anti-im perial and Communist g o a ls . From hindsight it is too easy to speak sum m arily and to s a y that the ripples o f a suffrage movement noted here m erely m arked the beginning (and en d?) o f the w om en's side o f the bourgeois r e v o ­ lution. We learn m ore by listening to v oices o f the tim es, to t h o s e who perceived, o r indeed guided China through a pivotal point o f h istorical transform ation. The p olitics o f urban/rural tensions s o o n would a rise. But in the early twenties the central stress point w a s between the urban intellectuals and the urban w orkers. The w om en suffragists w ere among the m ore articulate factions o f urban intel­ lectuals, and their public appeal was narrow if not divisive. The still m ore radical m inority o f women intellectuals who rejected p a r ­ liam entarism in favor o f socialism built upon an urban w orkers' movement began to w rite in ways which sharpened perceptions o f cla ss antagonism and o f Ihe need fo r a new relation between intel­ lectual and working cla sse s. In the socia list literature which nee­ dled o r openly attacked the woman suffrage movement little was made o f the fa ct that the Peking suffrage alliances actually had is ­ sued ca lls to working women to join their m ovements. Given the elitist scope o f their concern s, this was fatuous to be sure. Wang Hul-wu was one o f the firs t women o f the Intelligentsia to com m it her energies to the cause of the proletarian women o f Shanghai's labor w orld. W riting in March 1922 In the Communist organ, W om en's V oice. Wang Hul-wu warned that the provincial autonomy movements to which the women suffragists w ere address­ ing them selves w ere falling into the hands o f w arlords who would twist them into dictatorships. She urged the women o f Hunan to take the lead in forestalling this perversion o f the parliam entary principle by gaining the right to vote and organizing the fem ale proletariat o f their constituencies to resist the w arlord enemy. Other socia lists applauded all signs o f women rebelling against "feudal and patriarchal" governm ent manned by provincial w arlords. But they w ere equally concerned that the w om en's rightists not d is­ sipate their energies in battles between the sexes when they should be girding them selves fo r cla ss w arfare. Some would m ock the notorious M iss Han Ylng who prom oted the "hate system " which

WOMAN AS POLITICIAN: 1920s

41

turned women against men on the erroneous assumption that ih eir enem y was the m ale sex radier than an opp ressor cla ss com posed o f men and women. ^ Though critiques w ere cast in le ss than o r­ thodox Marxian language, the drift o f argument was that men and women should abstain from the politics o f sexual opposition and join fo r c e s against the cla ss enemy. The dim hopes held by socialist w riters in the suffrage m ove­ m ent would soon be born out in political rea lities. As w arlord pow er mounted relen tlessly in the early twenties, constitutional gov­ ernm ent created by the provincial legislatures was undermined. The guarantee o f woman suffrage predicated upon a dem ocratic p rocess subsided. While the ideal o f equal rights fo r women survived among m em bers o f the urban intelligentsia who continued to believe that Chi­ na could be saved by legislative correction at the top, the m ost fa rseeing o f the women leaders now looked toward the Kuomintang and the Communist Party as the m ost effective agents o f national salva­ tion. A swift glance at the life o f Hsiang Ching-ytt, regarded by h er contem poraries as perhaps the m ost outstanding woman revolutionaxy o f her tim e, d istills and renders in personal term s the m ajor facets o f the role o f woman as politician in China o f the 1920s. B om in 1895 in HsU-pu hsien in Hunan, in 1915 she was graduated from the Chou-nan sch ool, Changsha's m ost progressive school fo r women. Returning to HsQ-pu hsien. she established its first co-educational prim ary school where she firs t experim ented in the politics o f social revolution. The school was used as a testing grounds fo r her antih ierarch ical, egalitarian ideals o f "mutual love" between students and teachers. She also instilled in her students a sense o f patrio­ tism and o f m ission to awaken the m asses, respect fo r sexual equal­ ity, and contempt fo r the degrading custom s o f earpiercin g and foot­ binding. 18 When the spirit o f May Fourth caught fire in Hunan in 1919, she was at the vanguard o f Changsha's m assive student movement, which sought to persuade China's faltering w arlord government to re je ct the com prom ising term s o f the V ersailles Peace Treaty au­ thorizing China's sell-ou t to Japanese im perialism . When her fe l­ low revolutionaries in Changsha, Mao Tse-tung and T s'a i H o-sheng, went to Peking in 1919 in connection with the Work-Study program in France, Hsiang and T s'a i H o-sheng's sister, T s'a i Ch'ang, des­ tined fo r a life-lon g ca reer as a leader o f women in the highest

42

W IT K E

echelons o f the Communist Party, organized in Changsha a W o m e n 's W ork-Study Group which coordinated the Hunan contingent o f s tu d e n ts who embarked fo r France on the Work-Study program . Hsiang: s e r v e d inform ally as the leader o f the sixteen g irls sent from that p r o v in c e . Chinese student life in post-w ar France was an experim ent in the theory and practice o f socialism . With no private means o f s u p ­ port in France, Hsiang financed h er school expenses by working: p a r t tim e in a rubber plant and textile m ill, experiences which brou gh t her into direct contact with the French proletariat. At the sam e tim e , she and T s'a l Ho-sheng, whom she eventually m arried, led the C h i­ nese Work-Study community in the exploration o f current rev olu tion ­ ary id eologies— anarchism and social dem ocracy as w ell as M arx­ ism . By the time the Socialist Youth C orps and the Young C hina Communist Party w ere founded in France in 1921, both she and h e r husband had resolved to join the Communist Party. At this juncture H siang's political life moved onto the double track o f intellectual and proletarian cla ss consciousness which w as follow ed arduously by the firs t generation o f Chinese Communist lea d ­ e rs. As ideologue and labor organizer Hsiang devoted h erself both to fem inist and to proletarian causes. Upon return to China in 1922, the Second Party Congress appointed her as the firs t woman m em ber o f the Central Comm ittee, and made her the firs t head o f the W om en's Department. During the next three o r four yea rs, all decisions on women taken by the Central Committee w ere initiated by her. Mov­ ing on to M oscow in 1925, she studied M arxism -Lenism at the Uni­ versity o f the T oilers o f the East fo r two yea rs. When she returned to China in 1927, she m oved directly into the labor w orld. Assigned by the Central Committee to a high position in the Propaganda De­ partment o f the city o f Hankow, she organized both the m ale and fe­ m ale contingents o f the labor movement o f the Wuhan industrial cen­ ter and o f Shanghai. A fter Chiang K ai-shek purged his party o f Communist m em bership in A pril 1927, she was forced to continue her work underground. In the late spring o f 1928 she was captured by the KMT at Hankow and was im prisoned in the French Concession. There on May firs t she defended h erself before h er execution in the name o f the French revolutionary goals o f liberty, equality, and fra­ ternity, and against the im perialism which was enslaving the Chinese p eop le.20 Though executed w ell b efore her political prim e, the arc of h er life and w riting d escribes the path which radical women Intel-

WOMAN AS POLITICIAN: 1920s

43

lectoa ls w ere beginning to take in the decade o f the twenties. Hsiang is rum ored to have been w riting a history o f the Chinese Revolution at the time o f her execution, though no trace o f that survives. Nev­ erth eless, in her extant political essays she develops three themes which trace h er journey from fem inism to the broader issu es o f so­ cia l revolution. she argued firs t that women o f the intelligentsia should exist not only fo r them selves and fo r their im m ediate fam i­ lie s , but should be trained as leaders o f social revolution. Second, women o f the intelligentsia should make their overriding p roject the politica l awakening o f the women o f the working and peasant cla sses. Third— and this is the m ost cru cial point— she argued that the lib er­ ation o f women was not an isolated issu e; that it belonged to the la rg er p rocess o f the liberation o f the m asses; and that women could not hope to be liberated until all the people w ere liberated. Here she departed from the elitist ranks o f zealous w om en's rightists who endeavored to oppose discrim ination against women by discrim inating fo r them. On the contrary, she set the ultimate goal o f liberating all oppressed people, whose liberation would also accom plish the p rio r goal o f emancipating women. A half century later her Party inheritors cannot quarrel with the tasks , she set fo r them, nor can they claim to have reached her goals.

W TTK E

44

NOTES 1.

This article was prepared with assistance from a grant fr o m the Joint Committee on Contemporary China o f the Social S c i­ ence R esearch Council and the Am erican Council o f Learned Societies.

2.

Sun T 'a , "Chung-kuo fu-ntt yttn-tung chih chin-pu" [P ro g re ss in the Chinese W om en's M ovem ent], Fu-nU tsa-chih [The L adies' M agazine], IX, January 1923. Special issue on the W omen's Movement.

3.

Ch'en Tung-yüan, Chung-kuo fu-ntt aheng-huo shih [H istory o f the life o f Chinese w om en] (Shanghai: 1928), p. 360. See a ls o Wang T s'an g-pao, La Femme dans la société chinoise (P a ris: 1933), pp. 204-205.

4.

Sun T 'a , op. cit.

5.

Ch'en Tu-hsiu, "K 'ung-tzu chih tao yu hsien-tai shen g-hu o," Hsin ch'ing-nien [New Youth], H, Decem ber 1916, p. 4.

6.

Shou-ch'ang [L i T a -ch a o], "H sien-tai ti ntl-ch'ttan yUn-tung" [T he modern wom en's rights m ovem ent], Fu-ntt p'ing-lun [Woman c r it ic ], No. 25, 28 January 1922.

7.

Hu Shih, "NU-tzu w en -t'i ti k'ai-tuan" [The source o f the woman problem ] Fu-ntt tsa-chih, VIH, O ctober 1922, p. 10. See also Hu Shih, "NU-tzu w e n -t'i" [The woman problem ], Fu-ntt tsa-chih. VIH, May 1922, p. 5.

8.

[Mao] T se-m in , "Shih-chieh ntt-tzu ts'an-cheng yttn-tung k’ ao" [A study o f the w orld-w ide woman suffrage m ovem ent], Fu-ntt tsa-chih, V, D ecem ber 1919, p. 12.

9.

YU Huan-tou, "Chung-kuo ntt-tzu h sin -li kai-tsao chi chin-hou tsai she-hui shang ying-fu ti tse-jen " [The responsibility which should be taken by Chinese women in the reform o f their minds and thereafter o f so ciety ], Fu-ntt p'ing-lun [Woman c r itic ], H, 1 November 1920, p. 3.

W OM AN AS POLITICIAN: 1920s

45

10.

W u-ssu shih-chl chi-k'an chieh-shao [Introduction to the periodicals o f the May Fourth E ra ] (Peking: 1959), II, p. 200.

11.

Chow T se-tsung, The May Fourth Movement (Cam bridge, M ass. : ' 1960), pp. 258-259.

12.

Content analysis of Fu-ntt p'ing-lun in W u-ssu shih-chi ch i-k'an chieh-shao. n , p. 215.

13.

Ch'en W en-ch'ing ntt-shih, "Chung-kuo cheng-chih ytl ntt-tzu ts'an-cheng" [T he Chinese government and woman su ffrage], Fu-nU chou-pao [W om en's tri-m on th ly], No. 40, 28 May 1924.

14.

Kuo C hien-i, Chung-kuo fu-nU w en -t'i [The Chinese woman problem ] (Shanghai: 1935), pp. 206-207; Y . C. Wang, Chinese Intellectuals and the West, 1872-1949 (Chapel H ill, N. C .: 1966); Wang T s'ang-pao, op. c i t ., p. 208; Chow Tse-tsung, op. c i t ., p. 258n.

15.

[Huang] Lu-yin ntt-shih, "Chung-kuo fu-nU yttn-tung w en -t'i" [The problem of the Chinese woman suffrage movement] » M in-to tsa-chih [P eop le's to cs iq ], V, March 1924, p. 1.

16.

Wang Hui-wu, "W ei Hsiang-sheng yttn-tung ts'an-cheng ti chieh-m ei-m en chin i-y en " [A comment to our sisters in the Hunan suffrage m ovem ent], Fu-ntt sheng (Women's v o ic e ], No. 7, 20 March 1922.

17.

D iscussion o f the editorial policy o f Fu-ntt p'ing-lun in W u-ssu shih-chi chi-k'an chieh-shao. n , p. 217.

18.

Lieh-shih Hsiang Ching-ytt [M artyr Hsiang Ching-ytt] (Peking: 1958), p. 1.

19.

Li L i-san , "Tao Hsiang Ching-ytt t'ung-chih" [Mourning Comrade Hsiang Ching-ytt], written in M oscow in 1935 and reprinted in H ung-ch'i p 'ia o -p 'ia o [T he red flag w aves] (Peking: 1957), V, pp. 28-32.

20.

Ibid.

21.

[H siang] Ching-ytt, "Shanghai ntt-ch'Uan yttn-tung hui chin-hou ying chu-i san chien shih" [Three m atters which the Shanghai wom en's rights movement should attend to from now on ], Fu-ntt chou-pao. No. 11, 31 October 1923.

Chinese W om en in the Early Com m unist M ovement Suzette Leith

It is com m only held that the women o f China and the Commu­ nist Party are ideal a llies. The m arriage law o f 1950, state spon­ sorsh ip o f nu rseries to free women from the hom e, and the prom i­ nence o f Chiang Ch'ing in the Cultural Revolution are often cited as exam ples o f the im proving status o f women under Communism. Cor­ respondingly, women are given cred it fo r much o f the Communist P arty's su ccess in attaining pow er. As Jack Beiden put it: In the women o f China the Communists possessed, alm ost ready made, one o f the greatest m asses o f disinherited human beings the w orld has ever seen . . . and because they found the key to the hearts o f these women, they also found one o f the keys to victory over Chiang K aishek. * There have been no com prehensive h istorical studies, how ever, o f the contribution o f women to the revolutionary movement. And If we are concerned with one particularly important index o f status, the wielding o f political pow er, we find that there are indeed few women in top decision making positions in China. Those with the highest rank are invariably wives o f top leaders (e .g . Chiang Ch'ing, Teng Y in g-ch 'ao), figureheads (Soong Ching-ling) o r responsible, re­ gardless o f their original in terests, prim arily and often solely for w om en's affairs. Among low er level cadres, too, there is a dis­ proportionately high number o f men. Recent v isitors to China have found that even in the m ost p rogressive communes only about a third o f the leadership positions w ere held by women, and their job s w ere generally confined to w om en's a ffa ir s .2 The predom inance o f men as decision m akers leads us to questhe depth and scope of the liberation o f women in China. In an effort 47

48

L E IT H

to untangle the relationship between Chinese women and the Com m u­ nist Party, then, we turn to early party history (1921-27), on the assumption that an examination o f w om en's participation in the C om ­ munist Revolution is a necessary background to understanding th eir current status in China, especially in relation to political pow er. B efore dealing with the Communist Party, it is helpful to lo o k briefly at the development o f the Chinese wom en's movement, w h ich n ecessarily conditioned the ideas o f Communists, both men and women, in the twenties. To do so, we go back to the late C h'ing, when the Influx o f W estern ideas stimulated many scholars to c a ll fo r w om en's rights. Notions o f the equality o f the sexes and human rights fo r all persons influenced such men as K'ang Y u-w ei, who personally set out to eradicate foot-binding. Others prom oted such causes as fem ale education. In the early twentieth century women them selves began to agitate. They did so, however, not as an o r ­ ganized fo rce but as individuals, the m ost famous o f whom was the revolutionary m artyr Ch'iu Chin. P olitical m obilization o f women began in earnest follow ing the 1911 Revolution, when the Suffrage A lliance was form ed. The A lli­ ance firs t tried to petition parliam ent fo r guarantees o f equal p oliti­ cal rights, and when petitioning failed, a sm all group o f m em bers actually storm ed parliam ent demanding w om en's suffrage. The dem ­ onstration was easily dispersed and was taken seriously by few . The Alliance failed to gain substantial support, and concerned women returned to such causes as obtaining a modern education and unbind­ ing feet. Women once m ore em erged as political activists during the May Fourth Period. Girl students published journals, led patriotic dem onstrations and developed loca l organizations with such names as "Com m ittees o f Ten to Save the N ation," "P rogressive A ssocia­ tion o f G irl Students" and "G irls ' Patriotic A ssocia tion s." One patriotic group in Hunan sponsored a movement to boycott foreign goods and encourage the purchase of Chinese products. Other women organized m ore sp ecifica lly fem inist groups such as the A ssociation fo r the C ollective Advancement o f Women and (he A s­ sociation fo r the Prom otion o f W omen's Education. By 1922 the fem inists had won out over the patriots and two new organizations developed, purportedly on a national sca le. The W omen's Suffrage Organization, com posed mainly o f students and

E A R L Y COMMUNIST MOVEMENT

49

teach ers, focused its demands on w om en's participation in govern­ m ent, while the W omen's Rights League demanded a constitutional . guarantee o f total equality between the sexes and was concerned with the whole spectrum o f w om en's problem s, including education, husband-wife relations, inheritance, m arriage, concubines, prosti­ tution, slave trade, foot-binding, and labor pay. The activity o f these groups was propagandiste rather than organizational; they published, spoke to m eetings, shouted slogans in the streets. Both groups w ere alm ost entirely com prised o f urban, educated, middle o r u p p er-class women. The "w om en's m ovem ent," then, had actually been a series o f d iscrete phases, from revolution to fem inism to patriotism and back to fem inism . Throughout the twenties, efforts o f the CCP and KMT w om en's departments w ere largely aim ed at effecting yet another turn, away from fem inism and towards general political radicalism .

CCP AND KMT WOMEN'S DEPARTMENTS The Communist Party firs t took public note o f women in a 1922 proclam ation demanding w om en's rights and announcing the organization of a special bureau to incorporate women into the party. The 1922 declaration stated that In the third conference o f the Third International it was decided that in all countries a special com m ittee should be established in the Communist Party to lead women, a w om en's department be elected, and a spe­ cia l column fo r women be set up in the party news­ paper. The CCP decided to adopt this plan as soon as it can. 3 Ch'en Kung-po, a party m em ber at the tim e, felt that the creation o f a w om en's department was sim ply a verbal concession to the In­ ternational. "Apparently the party had not yet gotten around to o r ­ ganizing women, " he w rote. "H ow ever, in conform ity with the in­ structions of the Third International . . . the party decided to 'adopt its plan as soon as it can. '" 4 Ch'en is probably co rre ct in his as­ sessm ent that the party virtually ignored women during its firs t year and a half o f organized existence. The defect was undoubtedly due in large part to the lack o f fem ale participation in early Communist cou n cils, fo r the women who w ere to em erge as m ost vigorous in

50

LEITH

the com ing years w ere not yet available: Teng Y in g-ch 'ao was in ­ volved in w om en's rights work; T s'a i Ch'ang and Hsiang Ching-ytt w ere in France; and Yang Chih-hua was apparently not yet p o litica lly active. It is difficult to accept C h'en's theory that file bureau w as set up solely in response to International ord ers, however. Surely som e cred it is due Hsiang Ching-yU, who at the 1922 conference was appointed both a Central Committee m em ber and head o f the new w om en's bureau. Hsiang was later to em erge as the leading Communist woman o f the period. She had becom e involved in patriotic activities as a student in Hunan, in 1918 joining the New Students' Society, orga­ nized by Mao Tse-tung and T s'a i H o-sheng, whom she later m arried . She then traveled to France as a w orker-student and helped organize a branch o f the CCP there. H siang's view s undoubtedly influenced the direction w om en's work was to take, and it is therefore in stru c­ tive to look at som e o f her earliest com m ents on the w om en's m ove­ ment as it existed in 1922. Hsiang was highly critica l o f m ost educated Chinese women. She classified them as three types: fam ily reform ers, business women, and "rom a n tics." The form er, she claim ed, w ere m ainly W estern-educated women an d/or w ives o f rich educators o r politi­ cian s. Hsiang considered their goal o f a W estern-type sm all fam ily too individualistic and irrelevant to the needs o f the broad m asses o f women. Business women deserved som e cred it, Hsiang felt, fo r their role in changing the life style o f Chinese women, i . e . , in breaking out o f the home and participating in community life . In their efforts to succeed In business, how ever, they often becam e conservative in their thinking, too specialized and m echanical. Hsiang's sharpest criticism s w ere fo r the "rom antics, " young g ir ls who espoused free love and placed highest em phasis on individual liberty and happiness. Hsiang labled these g irls dangerous and un­ disciplined. 5 She was also critica l o f contem porary w om en's m ovements. Again, she made three divisions: working w om en's groups, suf­ fragettes, and Christian groups such as the YWCA. Passing o ff the YWCA as h istorically important but too tied to the West to be relevant in the 1920's, she concentrated her attack on the suffrage groups. Her criticism s w ere many: such groups Ignored the m asses and the idea o f universal participation in p olitics; they w ere poor organ izers, feeling that "a ll they had to do was make a few

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phone ca lls o r w rite a few letters and that would be a w om en's m ovement. " T heir only goal was to becom e legislators, that is , to participate in the corrupt p olitics o f the tim e, and they com ­ pletely forgot that China was in the m idst o f a revolution! In con­ trast, much praise was given to the working w om en's movement, a new development which, being separate from the "m ainstream " o f w om en's activism , was virtually ignored by m ost observers, male and fem ale alike. Hsiang considered the labor organizations to be the only part o f the w om en's movement with a potential fo r organi­ zation and struggle, the only one whose m em bers w ere w illing to make sa crifice s. Highly im pressed with the participation o f women in strik es, she published a detailed chart o f strike activities in 1922, claim ing that in that one year m ore than 30,000 women w ere active in strikes in m ore than sixty fa ctories, m ostly in Shanghai.** Her interest in the w om en's labor movement carried over into an­ other article in which she urged women to concentrate on three things: political questions, propaganda, and working women. Most fem inist groups paid no attention to low er cla ss womem she claim ed; indeed, they often excluded them from their m eetin gs.' These rem arks suggest the direction in which Hsiang wanted to take (he w om en's movement, and in (he years to com e she Indeed concentrated m ost o f her energies in organizing w orkers and planning strik es. Hsiang had no sympathy fo r a bourgeois w om en's movement apart from the Communist revolution, and (his sentiment possibly influenced (he CCP policy o f organizing its own women rather than seeking a united front with, say, the W omen's Rights League. Going a step farther, Hsiang seem ed to have been m ore interested in in­ corporating women into the party's labor movement than in develop­ in g a separate w om en's bureau. A s the years went by, her name is associated le ss with specifica lly fem inist organizations and m ore with strik es, usually in silk o r cotton fa ctories. In the m id-twenties as the CCP worked through the KMT in their firs t united front, w om en's activities w ere incorporated into the KMT w om en's department under Ho Hsiang-nlng in Canton. R aised in Hong Kong, Ho in 1905 had becom e (he first woman to join Sun Y at-sen 's T'ung-m eng Hui. She was m arried to Liao C hung-k'al, a top KMT leader, and had recruited women fo r the 1911 Revolution. Her main activity as KMT w om en's d irector appears to have been (he creation o f various groups in the Canton area, including an organization o f fem ale telephone w orkers, a "lib era tion " society, and the AU-Kwangtung W omen's A lliance,

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designed to organize and educate women o f the m asses and to awaken them p olitically. Helen Snow Indicates that another func­ tion o f Ho’ s organization was to act as a lobbying group fo r w om en 's rights within the nationalist government* then based in C anton.8 W orking under Ho in Canton w ere two Communist women, T s'a i Ch'ang (Hsiang Chlng-ytt's sister-in -la w ), who took over as head o f the CCP department in 1924 o r 1925, and Teng Y in g-ch 'ao, who moved from the w om en's rights sphere into Communist work in 1924 and a year later m arried Chou E n-lal. Hsiang Chlng-ytt re­ mained prim arily in Shanghai, organizing many general w om en's groups but now free to concentrate on labor. By 1927 it is e sti­ mated that m ore than a m illion and a half women in ten provin ces w ere incorporated into w om en's groups under Ho and the KMT, 300,000 o f these also being m em bers o f Communist organizations. ® In Communist w om en's history, a m ost revered event is the firs t celebration o f M arch 8, International W omen's Day, in 1924. R allies w ere sponsored by the CCP throughout China, the m ost prom inent one being organized in Canton by H o's All-Kwangtung A lliance. Several hundred women, a large proportion o f them students, participated in the dem onstration. Yang Chlh-hua, then a student at Shanghai University and perhaps in Canton fo r die celebration, describes the event: the women met in a public park, paraded, made speeches, and shouted various slogans. Although the officia l slogans w ere to be "L iberate China from being a S em iColony" and "Oppose the Oppression o f Women by C ap italists," the students also spontaneously shouted slogans dealing with m ore ex­ clu sively fem inist concerns such as polygam y and equal education. Yang sees the demonstration as a turning point; afterw ards, "the working w om en's movement moved to a new stage, w om en's organi­ zations springing up throughout the country and beginning to play a big part in the anti-Im perialist, anti-feudal m ovem ent."*® Celebrations w ere held in other citie s, too, but they w ere in m ost ca ses organized underground and could not com pare in scope with Canton's. An example is the Tientsin dem onstration, described by Teng Y in g-ch 'ao. The celebration was organized by the CCP and its youth organization, Teng reports, and, as neither could operate openly in Tientsin, obstacles w ere alm ost insurmountable. No propaganda tools w ere available, all newspapers being controlled by the governm ent, nor could m eeting places be found. M oreover, the women o f the area w ere unorganized and very unaware. Sev­ enty to eighty women, all contacted by word of mouth, eventually

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participated— a number significant fo r Tientsin but fa r sm aller than the Canton turnout. F or these women» Teng asserts» the la rger Canton celebration provided great encouragem ent.1 11 Throughout the twenties» March 8 continued to be a focal point fo r m obilizing women. Yang Chlh-hua reports» fo r exam ple, that in 1925 women in Peking celebrated March 8 by surrounding w arlord Tuan C h 'l-ju i's residence and shouting such slogans as 'Down with Im p eria lism !" 'Down with W arlord G overnm ent!" and "Women o f the W orld U n ite!" By 1926» the movement had grown to such pro­ portions that 10,000 gathered together in Canton, 800 in Hunan. ^ The March 8 celebrations undoubtedly gave great sym bolic en­ couragem ent to the women o f China. Furtherm ore, as the firs t m ass wom en's demonstration sponsored by the CCP-KM T, they mark the beginning o f a new stage in the Chinese w om en's movement, one in which w om en's rights w ere to becom e increasingly identified with revolutionary political m ovem ents. M ore and m ore women activists w ere m oving towards the position held by Hsiang Ching-ytt in 1922: fem inist rebellion was m eaningless without general political revolu­ tion. T eng's and Y ang's articles on the March 8 dém onstrations are w ritten in an enthusiastic vein and leave one with the feeling that 1924-1925 w ere exciting years in the movement. Other a rticles, many by T s'a i Ch'ang, d escribe the dogged efforts o f Hsiang Chingytt, going from door to door to encourage w om en's attendance at m eetings and then returning after each meeting to so licit com m ents. An effort was certainly being made. Yet just how successful w ere Ho and H siang's w om en's bureaus in incorporating women into the revolutionary m ovem ent? Judging from a 1926 CCP report, prob­ lem s w ere im m ense. A document entitled "R esolutions on the W omen's Movement, " passed by the Central Committee in Shanghai in 1926, points out glaring weaknesses: The w om en's movement had failed to penetrate the m asses, placed too great an em phasis on bureaucratic activity, neglected the party's developm ent (especially in Kwangtung and Pe­ king), and produced publications which w ere at best monotonous. T o counteract these deficien cies, the resolution listed seven areas fo r future action: 1. Emphasis on the m asses. In the past, the resolution stated, women had been content to work m erely to control organi-

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zattons such as the KMT 'women's department, w om en's association s, o r various federations o f women. They had forgotten the m a sses. 2. A united front with women o f all cla sse s. In Kwangtung, especially, cla ss cliquishness had been excessive. 3. Work with fem ale la b orers. 4. Work with peasant women. 5. Popularization o f publications. 6. R eform o f loca l w om en's departments and com m ittees on the w om en's movement. 7. Expansion o f party m em bership and training o f personnel fo r the w om en's m ovement. The resolution pointed out that although m em bership o f wom en was increasing, m ost party m em bers w ere still men, and fem ale m em bership was alm ost entirely confined to Shanghai and Hunan. Kwangtung, Hupeh, and Peking w ere listed as areas o f esp ecially poor recruitm ent. "T h is indeed is a very bad situation ," the r e s ­ olution concluded. "The training o f personnel fo r the w om en's movement (especially fem ale labor and peasant women) is the m ost im portant im m ediate task o f the party at all le v e ls ." The party was Instructed to sponsor training cla sses and discussions and to "gather and regularly train responsible and prom ising women com ­ rades. " 13 It would be interesting to know who w rote the resolution. There are strong suggestions o f Hsiang Ching-ytt's Influence: the em phasis on uniting with the m asses and concentrating on the fem ale la borers and peasant women, and the many expressions o f dissatis­ faction with the work done in Kwangtung, perhaps a veiled criticism o f working through the KMT department, which concentrated on o r ­ ganizing groups rather than on m ass action. Hsiang, how ever, was in the Soviet Union during m ost o f 1926, and we cannot attribute authorship to her. Her sister-in -la w and su ccessor as chairm an o f the CCP w om en's department, T s'a i Ch'ang, appears to have a philosophy sim ilar to H siang's. She was less prom inent and her view s are le s s easily traced. Her w ork, how ever, indicates strong interest in the labor movement and, as a Central Committee m em ber, she could have been influential in drafting the document. What is m ost im portant is the new direction the movement was to take. The referen ces to fem ale w orker and peasant movements are in sharp contrast to previous statements which separated the w om en's movement from other m ass m ovem ents, both in theory and

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in organization. The Central Comm ittee was Anally com ing around to H siang's vision o f a w om en's movement Incorporated In other m ass m ovem ents.

THE STUDENT MOVEMENT Turning, then, to the various m ass organizations, we look fir s t at the students, fo r educated youths w ere the backbone o f the ea rly Communist Party. The founders o f the party all w ere intel­ lectu als— students, teachers, w riters— and until about 1925, m ost party recru its w ere middle school o r college stu d en ts.^ The ea rly Communist m ovem ent's four m ost prom inent women, Hsiang Ching-ytt, T s'a l Ch'ang, Teng Y in g-ch 'ao and Yang Chih-hua, all received their firs t taste o f p olitics as student activists. Given significant student participation in May Fourth dem onstrations, w om en's rights activities and March 8 ra llie s, the student m ove­ ment seem ed a natural recruiting ground fo r Communist w om en's organizations and especially fo r future fem ale leaders. Our findings on the student movement are mainly speculative. L ittle has been written on youth organization in the 1921-27 period, n or could I find statistics fo r fem ale participation at any one tim e. It is not even certain whether party policy encouraged m ixed o r sex-separated youth c e lls . There are indications, how ever, that fem ale activism in the movement was not what the party women would have hoped. One such suggestion is found in a Women o f China article dealing with w om en's organizations in Canton. The a rticle noted that one way o f recruiting women was through the o r­ ganization o f g ir ls ' ce lls o f the New Student Society, Canton's p ri­ m ary Communist youth group. It was a man, however, who orga­ nized the c e lls , and it was reported that "a s g ir ls ' experience was sm all, the ce lls and other activities w ere mainly led by men. It is no doubt significant that even in Canton, the center fo r KMT w om en's activities and an area often frequented by CCP women, there was a dearth o f initiative among g irl students. Perhaps the prim ary reason fo r this m ale-dom ination o f girl student groups was sim ply the sm all number o f g irls enrolled in higher education. In 1922 it is estim ated that only 6.32% o f the students in non-m issionary schools w ere g irls; by 1931 the figure o f 11.75% is given fo r g irls in colleges and u n iversities.16 As a m easure o f potential participation in the student movement, then,

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the figures would indicate a very low availability o f g irls. G irls who did participate, m oreover, w ere in such a m inority that few could be expected to hold significant pow er in the organizations and thereby receive training fo r party leadership. A second question concerns just how potentially active these girl students w ere. Despite Helen Snow's assertion that g irls w ere m ore oppressed and therefore m ore radical than m en ,17 we cannot assume that g irls w ere m ore likely to join the CCP youth groups than w ere their male classm ates. F irst, there was the com peting cause o f w om en's rights. To the middle o r u pper-class g ir l, sex ist oppression would seem fa r m ore real than capitalist. Her struggle had been with m ale-dom inated educational institutions and fa m ilies, not with landlords or m anagers, and radical p olitics was fo r her only one among many com peting concerns such as w om en's suffrage, birth con trol, and the big fam ily system . M oreover, the percentage o f m iddle school o r college g irls com ing from peasant o r w orker backgrounds and therefore having som e sympathy fo r the econom i­ cally oppressed was no doubt low er than that o f men. Stories o f the early life o f Mao Tse-tung indicate how very difficult it was fo r a peasant youth to obtain an education; if he had been a g irl, we would hypothesize his chances to have been nil. Thus the s o cia lly inclined educated woman, with her bourgeois background, would probably identify much m ore closely with fem inist groups than with the Com m unists, who argued that only by liberating the m asses could women be liberated. This is the picture painted by Hsiang Ching-ytt, who reported, as mentioned above, that m ost educated women cru ­ saded fo r w esternized fam ilies, participation in business o r individ­ ual liberty, thus leaving little time to agitate fo r the revolution. Indeed, som e o f the g irl students' demands— fo r exam ple, that edu­ cated men should discard their old -style w ives and m arry fo r love— w ere definitely counterproductive to cooperation between intellectual women and the w ives of peasants and w orkers. Hsiang's distrust o f educated women no doubt influenced h er recruiting methods. E specially concerned with the plight o f women w orkers and convinced o f their revolutionary potential, Hsiang con­ centrated on the fa ctories, perhaps neglecting the recruitm ent o f college g ir ls . And because o f Hsiang Ching-yti's position as a Cen­ tral Committee m em ber and her many personal connections with in ­ fluential Communists (for exam ple, m arriage to T s'a i Ho-sheng, w ork in France with Li L i-san and Chou E n -lai), her influence on the party should not be underrated.

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THE LABOR MOVEMENT It was not the student but the working woman whom Hsiang Chlng-yll sought to incorporate into the movement. Not only did she h erself have great respect fo r the woman la borers; the party, a lso , was basing its general strategy on labor. And women made up a significant proportion o f the labor force ; in Shanghai, they com prised a m ajority o f the proletariat. The great numbers o f women w orkers can be explained by the prevalence of light industry in China, the w illingness o f women to w ork fo r low er wages than men, and the large number o f industries dealing with traditional "w om en's w ork" such as spinning and weav­ in g. Women w ere especially numerous in the silk , cotton and to­ ba cco industries. Jean Chesneaux gives the follow ing figures fo r Shanghai in 1923-24: in the Chinese-owned silk fa ctories, 74.5% o f all w orkers w ere women, 15.5% w ere g irls under 12; in the foreign fa ctories, the figures w ere correspondingly 55.5% and 34.9% . Chi­ nese-m anaged cotton fa ctories em ployed 65.8% women and 6.4% g ir ls ; foreign fa ctories, 65.9% and 5.2% . In the Chinese tobacco fa ctories, 69% o f all w orkers w ere women; in the foreign fa ctories, 6 2 .7 % .18 The percentage o f women was low er in other parts o f the country. Fang Fu-an reports that in 1928, 56% o f all Shanghai w orkers w ere women (9.2% w ere children), only 6% in Tientsin but 44% in Hangchow and 51% in Hankow.19 Chesneaux documents the cen ter o f action in the labor movement as follow s: 1920-22, Canton; 1922-23, Wuhan; 1924-25, Shanghai; 1926-27, Wuhan; 1927, Shang­ hai. 20 Through m ost o f the period, the center o f action was in areas o f high fem ale concentration. The Communists undoubtedly saw the fem ale labor fo rce as a fertile recruiting ground not only because o f the numbers o f women w orkers but also because o f the oppression they suffered. They worked the same 12-hour days as did men but received much le ss pay— som etim es only half as much as men w ere given fo r the same jo b s . Some women received no wages at all. E specially In the cotton industry, g irls as young as 13 w ere often hired through a system by which fam ilies contracted to turn over all their daughter's wages fo r three to five years to a recru iter, who would in turn guar­ antee a job , food, clothing and shelter fo r the g irl. "Shelter" usu­ ally meant a boarding house with 10 to 15 g irls to a room , many sleeping on the flo o r and all made to do housework, in addition to their twelve hours a day in the m ills. 21

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Yet these same conditions, so necessary to provoking the d is ­ satisfaction that leads to political agitation, w ere also an obstacle to organization. Shut up in their boarding houses and kept under close surveillance, many g irls w ere not even allowed to w rite h o m e , much le ss consort with "outside a g ita tors." T heir wages w ere so low (or, in the case o f the recruited cotton w orkers, nonexistent), that it was difficult fo r their unions to maintain strike funds. R e­ cruited straight from the countryside, m ost spoke only local d ia le cts and could barely comm unicate with each other, much le ss with union organ izers. Going on strike was risky business, too, with the cou n ­ tryside full o f the unemployed, ready and w illing to break a strik e. And as women w ere the m ost unskilled o f the w orkers, they w ere the easiest to replace. The abstract fem ale proletarian certainly had cause to re b e l. But the shy young g irl from the country, probably still with bound feet and afraid o f looking strange men in the eye . . . how m ilitant a strik er could she becom e? Looking at sp ecific strike activity, we cannot help but be im pressed— and perhaps surprised—by the activ­ ism o f the fem ale w orkers. Turning to sp ecific strike activity, we find in the early Chinese labor movement two peaks o f action, the firs t in 1922 and the second beginning with the May 30 Movement in 1925 and continuing into 1926. Between the two was a period of retrenchm ent and underground activ­ ity, and afterwards a total breakdown in the labor movement, resu lt­ ing from Chiang K ai-shek's brutal "white te rror" o f 1927. During the firs t high tide o f 1922, Helen Snow reports that there w ere all together m ore than 100 strik es, in many o f which women p a rticip a te d .^ Neither she nor Chesneaux mentions H siang's figures of 30,000 women striking in m ore than sixty fa ctories, yet both speak o f the largest o f those walkouts, a strike o f 20,000 women w orkers in twenty-four (forty-fou r, according to Hsiang) silk filatures in August o f 1922. Organized by the Women W orker Soci­ ety fo r the Prom otion o f Virtue ("a kind o f friendly s o c ie t y " ),^ the strik ers demanded a ten-hour day and a five-cen ts increase in wages. Despite their num erical strength, the women returned to work as soon as p olice arrested five o f their leaders. The strike was a failure, yet it im pressed many by the sheer numbers o f women in­ volved. Nor was it the only w om en's strike. Hsiang Ching-yU lists seventeen oth ers, varying in size from seventy to 3000 w orkers par­ ticipating. Of these, half w ere in cotton m ills, the other half in

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C igarette, silk , and lace fa ctories, and the usual demand was fo r in crea sed w ages. A ccording to H siang's charts, about half o f the strik es w ere su ccessfu l, the others failing fo r such reasons as lack o f unity among strik ers, arrest o f leaders, o r "pressu res o f liv e li­ h ood " keeping the w orkers from holding out. ^ Despite the many fa ilu res, it is easy to see how Hsiang was im pressed by the m ili­ tancy o f the fem ale w orkers. It is doubtful though possible that Hsiang h erself was involved in this early strike activity. Through the Secretariat o f Chinese Labor, radicals w ere active throughout 1922 in the organization o f unions and encouragement of strikes. I could find no record , how­ ev er, o f Communist women carrying out such agitation. In the w om en's movement, at least, it was in all probability the m ilitancy o f the m asses which influenced leadership policy rather than the other way around. Encouraged by the activities of 1922, both Hsiang and T s'a i Ch'ang plunged into the labor movement. T s'a i is said to have o r­ ganized women w orkers in Shanghai, Canton, and Hong Kong and in 1925 to have h erself worked fo r a time in a cotton m ill. Hsiang is given cred it fo r leading two strikes in 1924, one in a Shanghai silk filature in which 12,000 women struck and another in the Nanyang T obacco Plant. Both strikes failed, officia lly "because o f lack o f working cla ss lea d ersh ip ." Another obstacle was certainly the gen­ era l deflation o f the labor movement and the necessity o f organizing secretly . By m id -1925, how ever, the total outlook had changed, and w ork ers w ere again rising in the m ost spectacular la bor/an ti-im p eria list movement so fa r, May Thirtieth. Stimulated by the killing o f a striking w orker in early May, a large demonstration was held in Shanghai on May 30, organized by the cotton workman Sun Lianghui. On that date five m ore dem onstrators w ere killed by the po­ lic e . The Communists w ere quick to take advantage o f the situation and on May 31 organized the Shanghai General Labor Union, headed by I I L i-san . The Union agitated continuously during 1925, and sympathy strikes w ere held throughout China. Yang Chih-hua is con sidered to have been a leader in the a ctiv ity ;^ Hsiang and T s'a i Ch'ang also participated, although not in coordinating roles. The May 30 movement was a stunning triumph fo r labor and fo r the CCP w orkers' movement, yet it was perhaps a personal

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defeat fo r Heiang Ching-yU, fo r her silk w orkers stayed on the job. A ccording to Chesneaux, local proprietors had been concern ed with the 1924 strikes and had hired a social w orker, M rs. Mu Chlh-yang, to curb the excesses o f die previous year and keep conditions sm ooth in the silk -reelin g fa cto r ie s .26 This action in itself suggests how fa r the women w orkers' movement had com e and the threat fa cto ry owners w ere beginning to feel. M rs. Mu was a leader in the Federation o f Labor Organizations, a m oderate group which was on good term s with em ployers and sought to m oderate the May 30 uprisings with such slogans as "L et us ask fo r bread only and leave p olitics alone. "27 in the silk fa ctories she organized a "friendly society fo r w om en's em ancipation" as an a lter­ native to the m ore radical groups the Communist women w ere tryin g to organize. She was somewhat successful in containing the silk w orkers in 1924 and again in 1925. But a year later, thousands struck, one o f their com plaints being dissatisfaction with their la b or union (presum ably M rs. M u's group), which they accused o f being in conspiracy with factory ow ners. Communist em phasis on w orkers continued throughout 1926 and early 1927, the two m ost prom inent women organizers being T s'a i Ch'ang and the textile w orker Liu Chlen-hsien, who in early 1927 succeeded in organizing the Shanghai silk w orkers to strike in w el­ com e o f the Northern Expedition. Women such as Liu, Hsieh Y unhong o f Taiwan and Ch'en H u-ch'ing o f Canton, cla ssic proletarians who had worked in the factory even as children, w ere developing into enthusiastic organ izers. If the movement had continued to grow , it probably could have been a good recruiting ground fo r fem ale ca ­ d res. But just as factory women w ere becom ing aware and gaining respectability in labor organizations, the movement collapsed. The su ccess o f the Northern Expedition was directly follow ed by Chiang Kai shek's "white te rro r" in which thousands o f w orkers w ere killed— many women sim ply fo r having bobbed hair. Chiang's slaugh­ ter o f women w orkers was a final confirm ation that their organ izers had been— if not totally su ccessfu l— at least very threatening. The labor movement had been significant fo r the twenties. But in the thirties and forties the party discarded its urban strategy and moved to the villages. Action centered on the peasants and the Red Arm y, and we therefore turn to the roots fo r that work laid am ong women p rior to 1927.

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THE PEASANT MOVEMENT Although outside the m ainstream o f party concern, efforts to organize peasants began in the early twenties. The m ost notable o f these attempts was that o f P 'eng P 'a i, a landlord's son, who managed to set up a prospering peasant organization in his native Hailufeng (the area around Haifeng and Lufeng), Kwangtung. Women w ere involved from the beginning. They w ere organized into a sep­ arate w om en's union, according to Hailufeng w om en's leader T s'ai T en g -li, and often made up a quarter o f the peasant organization's total m em bership. The w om en's union's two prim ary tasks w ere to develop a com m unications network throughout Hailunfeng and to counsel women on their m arriage problem s— the firs t task a signi­ ficant contribution to the general peasant movement; the second, often a source o f friction within the movement. A ccording to T s 'a i, "Som e men hated the organization because it defended the rights o f women and took care o f the divorce problem "28 Building a strong w om en's union was from this angle actually counterproductive to achieving the general m ovem ent's goal o f peasant unity. The divorce problem was to crop up again in the peasant orga­ nizations form ed in Hunan and Shenyang in 1926. By this tim e, the party had begun to take note o f the peasants and to encourage stu­ dents to go into the countryside and organize. There was also o f­ ficia l sanction o f a woman peasant movement parallel to the women w orkers movement. Again, unions found their m em bers to be espe­ cia lly concerned with d ivorce, and again, the issue made fo r trouble within file peasants' union. As one young organizer related to Anna Louise Strong, if the w om en's association did not grant a divorce, the w ife would be dissatisfied and the organization would lose sup­ p ort; if it did, there would be problem s with the overall peasants' union. "It is hard fo r a peasant to get a w ife ," she added, "and h e 's often paid much fo r his present unwilling o n e ."28 At the same time as g irls from Changsha w ere penetrating the Hunan countryside, others w ere perform ing a sim ilar function be­ hind the lines o f the Northern Expedition arm y. The KM T-CCP alliance, despite growing tensions, was kept alive fo r the Expedition. It is estim ated that three to four hundred young g irls w ere involved, their task being to propagandize among women in the newly lib er­ ated areas. W om en's leader T s'a i Ch'ang was a m em ber o f the Northern Expedition fo rce . She, how ever, was assigned to the general propaganda department— the only women perm itted to

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propagandize among the sold iers— and probably had little contact with die g irls who w ere organizing peasant women. Many o f th ese g irls had been trained at the W omen's Training School, set up in 1926 by Soong Ching-ling in Hankow. Soong had originally con ceived o f the school solely as an institute to train propagandists. As the best-known w om en's organization in the area, how ever, it becam e involved in a multitude o f other w om en's issu es, many o f which in ­ dicate further difficulties besetting the w om en's movement. One problem was community disapproval of the school and o f som e o f its enthusiastic but politically naive students, who would frequently descend on the streets o f Hankow, cutting the hair o f every woman in sight. A m ore serious problem was money. Once they heard o f the sch ool, runaway slave g irls flocked to Hankow in search o f care and shelter. *As its d irector pointed out to Anna Louise Strong, die school sin cerely wanted to help these g irls, but it hesitated to tax loca l factory women— its only source of revenue— in order to do s o .30 Women sim ply didn't control enough wealth to su ccessfu lly support their movement. It is uncertain how successful the g irl propagandists w ere. O bstacles, we know, w ere many. In Honan, fo r exam ple, the g ir ls had to be rem oved because the sight of short-haired g irls traveling with men caused too much o f a scandal in conservative d istricts. Rum ors o f "com m on w ives" w ere rampant, and villagers w ere too shocked to be receptive to Nationalist propaganda. Another obstacle was the unwillingness, particularly among village women, to talk to strangers. P 'eng P 'ai supposedly spent months in the Hailufeng villages, making no headway at all because m ost o f the a rea 's adult m ales w ere overseas making money, leav­ ing only taciturn women. 1 We would assum e, then, that fem ale organizers w ere needed. Yet as the case o f the Northern Expedi­ tion propaganda teams showed, the potential scandal o f young g irls (especially with such short hair and such big feet) traveling in the company o f men who w ere not their husbands, was enough to turn many villagers against whatever doctrine they might be propounding. We find, then, two main problem s confronting the peasant w om en's movement. Upon entering a village, organizers had firs t to overcom e the conservatism o f die women— their fea r o f strangers com bined with their disapproval o f "liberated" g irls— if they w ere just to set up a w om en's union. It is only after tills obstacle was overcom e and wom en's organizations form ed that the second problem ,

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63

co n flict between m ales and fem ales within the overall peasant m ove­ m ent, developed. The enthusiasm with which peasant women sought out d ivorces indicates that they, like the g irl students, perceived them selves as prim arily sexually rather than econom ically oppressed, in struggle not with the landlord but with me m ale. This perception w as certainly justified, fo r even the m ost politically radical o f fathers gen erally retained his prerogatives as head o f the household and deci­ sion maker fo r his women. Two prom inent exam ples are the stories o f future Communist leaders K'ang K 'e-ch 'in g and Li Chien-chen. K 'an g's foster father was an ardent Communist who encouraged his daughter to organize youth bands within the im m ediate area. Yet upon reaching m arriageable age, K'ang discovered that even a Com­ m unist father could not conceive o f his daughter's breaking an ar­ ranged m arriage contract. He answered her protests by locking her up, and she was not to escape until the Nationalist arm y cam e through L i, sim ilarly, was brought up in a Communist fam ily, yet at age 17 she was forced to m arry the fa m ily's son, m ore than ten years her sen ior. Her liberation cam e in 1931 when her politically radical yet personally oppressive husband was killed. Such stories point out the special nature o f w om en's problem s and the consequent need fo r organizing sem i-independent w om en's unions. They also indicate the potential tensions arising between the sexes among politically aroused peasants, tensions which could blow a peasants' union apart. Organization o f peasant women was particularly difficult in the twenties. The general peasant movement was just beginning, with little party support and no Soviet advisors to point the way. Nor was there much apparent support from the party's fem ale leaders. Even those conscious o f the need to penetrate the m asses in prac­ tice defined those m asses as w orkers rather than the peasant w ives, daughters, and, in the South, farm la b orers. Only at the Hankow Training Center, It seem s, w ere there women seriously concerned with such thorny issues as the divorce problem .

CONCLUSION In its short history the Chinese w om en's movement had gone through alternating phases o f fem inist separatism and integration into general radical movements. May 4 women had campaigned fo r patri­ otic cau ses; in 1922, they swung back towards w om en's rights. But

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as the decade progressed, we see another turn, towards con cen tra­ tion on econom ic rather than fem inist issu es. Within the CCP, it was a tw o-step progression. Stage 1 was the decision to forego alliance with w om en's rig h ts groups and instead build a w om en's movement within the party. An example o f and at the sam e time an influence on this developm ent was the scorn shown by Central Committee m em ber Hsiang Chingyfl towards the activities o f bourgeois w om en's rights groups. Som e Communist leaders, to be sure, got their start in the fem inist m ove­ ment. Teng Y in g-ch'ao apparently worked actively in w om en's righ ts groups in Peking and Tientsin until her entry Into the Socialist Youth in 1924, and even Hsiang appears to have participated in a Shanghai fem inist group around 1922. I could find no evidence, how ever, o f plans to use such groups as an arm o f the party. Nor w ere the Communists sympathetic to wom en's demands fo r the right to vote and fo r participation in the existing governm ent. As Hsiang pointed out, with government so corrupt, what was there to participate in ? The KMT, like the CCP, set up its own w om en's department, in which many Communist women participated during the united front. Again, the decision not to rely on w om en's rights groups is no doubt related to the background of the leaders. Ho Hsiang- ning, like Hsiang Ching-ytt, grew tip politically within h er parly and was m arried to one of its m ost active leaders. Her loy­ alty, like H siang's was to the party rather than to her sex. Within the form al party structure, how ever, women w ere still to be organized separately. In 1922 Hsiang Ching-yU's proposal that women be directly incorporated into the general labor movement was overruled. Instead, women w ere confined to a special department which Hsiang, iron ically, was chosen to head. Many fa ctors could account fo r this decision. One is the example and direction o f the Soviet Union which, according to Ch'en Kung-po, sim ply inform ed the CCP that it was to set up a w om en's movement. W omen's rights groups had set an example (in correctly, Hsiang would argue) o f set­ ting women apart as a separate fo rce dealing with special problem s. Probably m ost important was tradition: women had participated in the 1911 revolution— in separate w om en's battalions; they had led strikes and dem onstrations during the Mäy 4 Movement— again, through separate organizations. The question was not one o f pro­ priety but o f efficien cy: men and women, it was assum ed, could sim ply work better separately. Still in its earliest "identity c ris is "

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65

sta g e, the party had given little thought to Hie question o f women c a d r e s . It was sim ply assumed that men worked with men and w om en worked with women. Around 1926, how ever, party em phasis changed from the w om en 's department to incorporation o f women into overall m ass m ovem ents, the second stage in the anti-fem inist progression. A gain, the Soviet example was perhaps significant, Lenin having d ecla red that fem inism , o r the conversion o f cla ss struggle into se x struggle, was counter-revolution ary.33 Tensions in the CCPKMT alliance and the new Communist concentration on m ass m ove­ m ents w ere im portant, as w ere the actions o f such leaders as Hsiang, T s'a i Ch'ang, and Yang Chih-hua, all class rather than sex-orien ted . The change might be seen as important only in theory. Women w ere still organized into separate branches within peasant unions. In the labor movement, organization was based on the factory, and women tended to be clustered in certain light industries such as cotton and silk. Only the labels had changed, "women who w orked" becom ing "w orkers who happened to be women. " Yet there w ere im plications fo r the relationship between women and political pow er. F rom a fem inist point o f view , the shift was perhaps a dangerous one, fo r women would no longer be able to rise within their own pow er structure and, once on top, command resp ect within the party as heads o f their own m ass base. F or individual women leaders, on the other hand, the change meant le ss danger o f their being shunted o ff into a low priority w om en's department by their male com petitors fo r pow er. A lso relevant to the power issue are the differences firs t made apparent in the twenties between the two m ass movements women w ere to participate in, peasant and labor. From the party's stand­ point, the fem ale labor movement had many advantages over the woman peasant movement. The women w orkers w ere, first, ea sier to organize. They lived apart from their fam ilies and w ere therefore somewhat independent o f them. Many w ere unmarried and thus not yet dominated by husbands. And as participants in the capitalist system it was possible fo r women w orkers to see them selves as oppressed by that system and therefore be m ore favorably Inclined to m ovements directed at its destruction, in contrast to both students and peasant women, who perceived their oppression as sexist.

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M oreover, women as w orkers w ere the m ore com patible with overall Communist strategy. The concerns o f women w orkers w ere p recisely those o f men w orkers: m ore pay, better conditions, fr e e ­ dom to organize. They could therefore work together quite harm o­ niously. The peasant women, on the other hand, had a special con­ cern : m arriage and d ivorce. Both in the twenties and afterw ards, it appeared that whenever peasant women becam e active, their issu e was d ivorce. Because o f these specialized concern s, w om en's o r ­ ganizations in villages would tend to be m ore separatist. Even the young, awakened peasant g irls who believed in general liberation p re­ ceding w om en's liberation had their own personal problem s with fathers and husbands who, however radical politically, still in sisted on arranged m arriage. Sexism and conservatism sim ilarly ham pered the work o f g irls in the arm y. Even when liberated from fam ily domination, they could not escape the popular sex stereotypes o f the countryside. Peasant b eliefs about group m arriage and consequent scorn fo r all revolutionary propaganda led to the g irl propagandists being dropped in Honan, and perhaps in other areas as w ell. The concerns o f w om en's peasant unions and the attitudes regarding g irl organizers in the rural areas thus made fo r a situation in which w om en's activities w ere often dysfunctional to the overall rural m ove­ ment and therefore received le s s m ale support than did the fem ale labor movement. The best road to incorporation within the Communist movement was thus labor. Yet is has been pointed out that the key to political control in China was not labor but the students and peasants.33 Even within the party, student and peasant organizers w ere to em erge as the m ost pow erful: Li L i-san was to lose out to Mao Tse-tung. Here was an im plication fo r woman leadership. Women had a power base, yet their base was not where the party needed it. Women stu­ dents could be lured by w om en's rights organization; women peasants w ere preoccupied with d ivorce. It was the women w orkers who had the potential fo r becom ing ardent Communists. Yet w orkers w ere but a minimal part o f the general Communist thrust. And even in a time when labor was im portant, few women leaders em erged. Martin W ilbur's listin g o f over 100 top party leaders in 1928, fo r exam ple, names only four women—Hsiang Ching-yU, T s'a i Ch'ang, Teng Y in g-ch 'ao, and Yang Chih-hua.34 F rom other sou rces I could find only about twenty names of women influential in Hie Communist movement at the tim e. Two o f these, Soong Ching-ling and Ho Hslang-ning, w ere not even Communists

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b u t are included because o f their presence on the left-frin ge o f the K M T and (heir participation in the Communist government after 1949. O ther women among the twenty would be considered m artyrs o r h eroin es rather than p ossessors o f political pow er. Part o f this tren d is due to the Communist historiographical tendency to praise "w ork ing h eroes" rather than lea d ers. But at the same tim e there w e re apparently few pow er-holders who could have been lauded if p a rty historians had chosen to do so. There appear to be two main reasons fo r this lack o f power. F ir s t is the high percentage o f the educated in top ro le s. Robert N orth has pointed out how even in the CCP, proletarians enjoyed on ly lim ited access to the elite. ^ As mentioned above, the politi­ c a lly aware g irl students had many com peting areas of activism and probably saw them selves as sexually rather than econom ically opp ressed. M ore important was (he sheer preponderance o f men In the educated elite. The second reason is the tendency o f CCP lea d ers, who w ere alm ost all men, to confine party women to the w om en's movement. There w ere exceptions, such as T s'a i C h'ang's r o le in propagandizing in the arm y. Still, the case o f Hsiang Chingyil is instructive. Her early support fo r the labor movement rather than a separate w om en's movement would indicate a desire to play a leading role in that movement. Instead, she was made ch ief o f wom en. In the long run, the developm ent o f a forcefu l w om en's department o r w om en's unions could perhaps have propelled Com­ munist women into positions o f general party leadership. In the twenties, how ever, the w om en's department was given such low p riority that pow er in it meant little. D e-em phasis on the w om en's department in 1926-27 perhaps meant short-run power gains fo r various women cadres, yet the trend was a b rief one, as the party was soon to concentrate alm ost exclusively on the countryside, w here, again, the special concerns o f peasant women once m ore fostered separatism . Jumping ahead three decades, we note the case o f K'ang K 'e-ch 'in g . K 'ang's interest was the m ilitary, she told Helen Snow in Yenan, not w om en's problem s o r activities, and d ie had decided not to have children, fo r they interfered with her work. Yet her fir s t post-1949 assignm ent dealt exclusively with children, and her work was destined to be not in the PLA but in the All-China Federation o f Women. From (he standpoint o f 1927, then, the potential fo r fem ale leadership was extrem ely low . There continued to be few educated women, and those who did enter the party w ere given responsibility

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prim arily within the w om en's movement— a movement which, given the com ing concentration on the peasantry and women peasants' in­ sistence on m arriage and divorce rights, was perhaps a hindrance to the general goal o f peasant unity and to the overall Communist movement. Our study o f the twenties has pointed out the multitude o f prob­ lem s women had in attaining pow er, even within the progressive Com ­ munist movement. The problem s o f women students and peasants, in contrast somewhat with the w orkers, put into focus the pressin g need fo r a fem inist movement. Although all Chinese women w ere sexually oppressed, the w orkers had attained a degree o f self-su f­ ficien cy. L ess dependent on fathers and husbands, they could m ore fully participate in cla ss m ovem ents. The resulting view is a tw ist o f Hsiang Ching-ytt's doctrine o f the twenties. H siang's view was that only after there was political revolution could women be lib e r­ ated. Yet within that political revolution, it was only after being liberated from psychic and econom ic dependence on husbands and fathers that Communist women could hope to truly share in politi­ cal power.

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NOTES

1.

Jack Beiden quoted in W illiam Hinton, Fanshen (N .Y . : Books, 1966), p. 396.

2.

Committee o f Concerned Asian Scholars, China 1 Inside the People’ s Republic (N .Y .: Bantam Books, 1972), p. 275.

3.

Ch'en Kung-po, The Communist Movement in China (N .Y .: Columbia University P ress, 1960), p. 28.

4.

Ibid. . p. 38.

5.

Hsiang Ching-ytl, " Chung-kuo chih-shih fu-nti ti sa n -p 'a i" [ Three Groups o f Educated W om en], originally published in Fu-ntt chou-pao [W om en's Magazine] (n .d. ), reprinted in Fu-nil nien-chien [W omen's Yearbook] (Hsin-wen hua-shu she, 1924), pp. 30-35.

6.

Hsiang Ching-yU, "Chung-kuo tsui-chin fu-nti yun-tung" [The Contem porary W omen's Movement in China], originally published in C h'ien-feng [Pioneer] (n .d . ), reprinted in Funti nien-chien. op. c it. . pp. 77-87.

7.

Hsiang Ching-ytl, "Shanghai ntl-ch'llan yun-tung chin-hou ying chu-ti san chien-shih" [T h ree Things the Shanghai W omen's Rights Movement Should Concentrate O n], originally published in Fu-ntl chou-pao, reprinted in Fu-nti nien-chien. op. cit. , pp. 104-107.

8.

Helen Foster Snow, Women in Modern China (The Hague: Mouton & C o ., 1967), p. 107.

9.

Ibid.

10.

Vintage

Yang Chih-hua, "Pu neng wang-chi ti jih -tzu " [Days I Can't F orget] in Chung-kuo fu-ntt [Women o f China], March 1956, p. 7.

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11.

Teng Y Ing-chfao, "San-shlh nlen ch'ien t i-i-tz 'u san-ba chieh" [ Thirty Y ears Ago: The F irst March 8 ], Chung-kuo fu-ntt. March 1956, p. 6.

12.

Yang Chih-hua, op. cit.

13.

"Resolution on the W om en's Movement, " in C. Martin W ilbur and Julie How, Documents on Communism. Nationalism and Soviet A dvisors in China 1918-1927 (N .Y . : Columbia Univer­ sity P ress, 1956), p. 120.

14.

C. Martin W ilbur, "The Influence o f the Past: How the E arly Y ears Helped to Shape the Future o f the Chinese Communist P a rty ," in John W ilson Lew is, e d ., Party Leadership and R ev­ olutionary Power in China (Cam bridge: Cambridge U niversity P ress, 1970), p. 37.

15.

"T a ke-m ing sh ih -ch 'i Kuang-tung fu-ntt yun-tung" [The W om en's Movement in Kwangtung], Chung-kuo fu-ntt. Septem­ b er 1967, p. 22.

16.

Florence Ayscough, Chinese Women Yesterday and Today (Boston: Houghton M ifflin C o ., 1957), p. 84. Sim ilar figu res are given by John Israel in Student Nationalism in China 192737 (Stanford: Stanford U niversity P ress, 1966), p. 5, and Snow, op. cit. pp. 16, 176.

17.

Snow, op. c i t .. p. 16.

18.

Jean Chesneaux, The Chinese Labor Movement. 1919-1927 (Stanford: Stanford University P ress, 1968), pp. 74-75.

19.

Fang Fu-an, Chinese Labor (London: 1931), p. 31.

20.

Chesneaux, op. c i t .. p. 345.

21.

Dorothy J. Orchard, "Manpower in China n , " Quarterly. March 1936, pp. 3-4.

22.

Nym W ales [Helen F oster Snow], The Chinese Labor Movement (N .Y .: John Day C o ., 1945), p. 31.

P . S. King & Son L td .,

P olitical Science

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23 .

Chesneaux, op, clt. , p. 195.

24 .

Hsiang Ching-yU, "Chung-kuo tsul-chin fu-nll yung-tung, " o£. d t . , pp. 78-79.

25 .

See Chesneaux, op. c l t .. pp. 254-264, and entry fo r " l i L isan" in Donald W. Klein and Anne B. Clark, Biographie D ic­ tionary o f Chinese Communism 1921-65 (Cam bridge, M ass.: Harvard U niversity P ress, 1971).

26.

Chesneaux, op. d t . , p. 282.

27 .

A id ., p . 225.

28.

Nym W ales [Helen F oster Snow], Red Dust (Stanford: U niversity P ress, 1952), pp. 199-202.

29 .

Anna L o d s e Strong, C h in a i M illions (Peking: 1965), p. 115.

30.

A id ., p. 111.

31.

A id ., p. 133.

32.

Janet Salaff and Judith M erkel, "Women in R evolution," re­ printed in this volum e, pp. 145-177.

33.

Conrad Brandt, Benjamin Schwartz and John Fairbank, A Docu­ mentary H istory o f Chinese Communism (Cam bridge, M ass.: Harvard University P ress, 1959), p. 16.

34.

W lA ur, op. c l t .. pp. 63-68.

35.

R obert North, KMT and Chinese Communist E lites (Stanford: Stanford U niversity P ress, 1952), p. 47.

Stanford

New W orld P ress,

Women in the Liberated Areas D elia Davin

On women, Mao T se-tung w rote, "A man in China is usually subjected to three system s o f authority (political authority, clan au­ th ority and religious authority). As fo r women, in addition to being dom inated by these three system s they are also dominated by men (the authority o f the husband). The w om en's movement in twenti­ eth century China can broadly be divided into those o f the socialist tendency who considered socialism to be a prerequisite fo r w om en's liberation and who therefore engaged in general political struggle against all four authorities, and those o f the fem inist tendency who concentrated on the struggle fo r equal rights, in the b elief that true equality could be achieved through reform s without a revolution in the whole organization o f society. The fem inist tendency drew great support from college-educated women, often Christian o r Christianinfluenced, who w ere struggling to make their wav in the profession s o r to be allowed a modern w estern-style courtship and m arriage. S ocialist revolutionaries attracted a lot o f student support, but they a lso successfu lly m obilized peasants and women w orkers in the strug­ g le fo r a revolution to alter the econom ic basis o f society, which they held ultim ately responsible fo r w om en's oppressive condition. The period o f the Kiangsi Soviet, during which Communists governed a population o f m illions fo r several years, was important fo r the testing and development o f practical p olicies. Among them w ere social and econom ic m easures designed to alter the whole sta­ tus o f women. A b rie f description o f these m easures seem s essen­ tial to this study. The equality o f men and women, which was o f course taken as a principle and also laid down in law in the Soviet Republic, was given m ore chance to becom e a reality by the creation o f w om en's organizations to fight fo r it. The picture is confused and in this as in other m atters, it is hard to judge the degree o f su ccess achieved 73

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in Klangs!. Agnes Smedley, using eyewitness accounts by p a rtici­ pants, says that the Arm y and the Party w ere often too busy to assist the loca l Soviets much even with agrarian p o lic y .2 T his w a s probably the case generally with social and econom ic p olicy. M ore­ over, it was as we now know, a tim e of serious tension and d is­ agreem ent amongst the leadership, so that even had trained o r ex­ perienced cadres existed to ca rry it out, policy on women might w ell have lacked consistency. From Agnes Smedley we hear o f W om en's Unions form ed in som e villag es,^ and in his report on die Chang-kang d istrict in Kiangsi, Mao tells us about the d istrict w om en's con gresses and w om en's representatives who w ere elected in each village to defend w om en's in terests. However he is critica l o f the way that work was perform ed in the d istrict, saying that too little was done to ex­ plain the point o f it all to ordinary women.4 The law s o f the Kiangsi Soviet o f m ost concern to women w ere the two m arriage law s promulgated by die Central Executive Com m it­ tee: the first (Chung-hua Su-w ei-al kung-he-kuo hun-vin t'iao-lU in late 1931, and the second (Chung-hua Su-w el-al hun-yln-fa) in A pril 1934.5 Both follow m arriage law in the Soviet Union in dealing not only with m arriage, but also with d ivorce, and the subsequent d is­ posal o f property and children. Although very sim ilar in tone and content, a few significant changes contained in the second probably reflect the experience during the two and a half years when the law was in fo rce . For exam ple, clause ten in the second law favors the Red Arm y soldier by making his consent to divorce indispensable in any action brought by his w ife. Clause fourteen decrees that if after divorce the women m oves to another area, she has a right to land there under the loca l land reform . In general, however, both laws define m arriage as a free association between a man and a woman to be entered into without interference from other parties and ended at the wish o f either. F or the first tim e in China the state becam e involved in the m arriage system by requiring that m ar­ riage and divorce be registered with the loca l governm ent. Although the parties w ere held to have equal responsibilities towards each other, in the event o f divorce it was declared necessary to protect women because they w ere still econom ically dependent. Women w ere favored in the custody o f children, but the man was given the heavier financial responsibility after d ivorce. Later comm unist m arriage law follow s sim ilar lin es. Judging by the great efforts and the length o f tim e which w ere later found necessary to change ideas on m arriage

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elsew here in China, it seem s unlikely that the law was very thor­ oughly implemented in those early yea rs. The greatest stress in woman p olicy, since the Soviet Repub­ lic was constantly at w ar, was on aid to the arm y. A few excep­ tional women like K'ang K 'e-ch 'in g (wife o f General Chu Teh) and L i Chien-chen served with the com bat troops.** Thousands o f others belonged to defense forces like the Women Guards which accepted g irls over sixteen o f hired-hand, poor o r middle peasant origin . A la rger organization than this was the W om en's Aid C orps which was responsible fo r rescuing and nursing the wounded and fo r carrying supplies to the fighters. Women w ere also used extensively fo r intelligence work and even fo r sabotage. Soviet directives give the im pression that the appeal to women to engage in productive labor was made in term s o f their replacing soldier-husbands, as w ell as fo r the sake o f gaining independence o r im proving their status. Since it was le s s unusual in southern China fo r women to work in the field s, and the custom o f foot-binding w as less tenacious than in the conservative north, this task may not have been too hard. In his investigation o f T s'a i-h si, Mao reported that about 30% o f the representatives in the low er d istrict congress w ere women in 1931, and that this rose to 62% in 1932 and 64% in 1933. This im pressive rise appears partly due to the absence o f men in the arm y, but even the first figure is surprisingly high, which seem s to indicate that w om en's right to participate in public a ffa irs was com paratively easily accepted in Kiangsi. Very few o f these women would have been able to continue their activities. Only thirty women left the Kiangsi Soviet on the T-rmg M arch to the north (though many m ore left Szechwan) and o f those left behind, many activists w ere k ille d .8 Others must sim ­ ply have resum ed their form er liv es. During the early years in the northwest, officia l policy on women showed no change from the days o f the Kiangsi Soviet. The Soviet M arriage law which was reprinted in Pao-an in 1936, re­ mained in fo r c e .8 But women w ere m ore difficult to m obilize in the conservative north. Foot-binding» fo r example» was still the rule in rural Shensi and the peasant women found their big-footed siste rs from Kiangsi very o d d .10 W esternized women intellectuals from urban areas like Shanghai who cam e to Yenan in the early yea rs o f the united front brought

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with them ideas o f w om en's emancipation influenced by fem inist ten­ dencies developed since the May Fourth era. They seem to have favored an all-ou t attack on the feudal m arriage system . The grea t clash between them and the Party cam e in 1942, when Ting Ling published an essay in the Liberation Daily attacking policy tow ards women, saying that they w ere being overw orked, expected to play a dual role, and subjected to criticism if they failed in either. 1 The Party counterattacked and, as Ting Ling told the journalist Gunther Stein, she and som e others w ere severely criticized in that yea r. They w ere told that "fu ll sex equality had already been established" and that their fem inism was outdated and harmful. ^ The resolution on women issued by the Central Committee in February 1943,13 follow s up this attack: "Women cadres must stop looking on econom ic work as unimportant. " Its sole reference to the "feudal oppression o f wom en" lie s in the assertion that women can escape it through production. Male dominance, purchase m ar­ riage and other such problem s are not mentioned. Foot-binding is brought up as a practice which is harmful both to health and p ro­ duction and in which reform is therefore desirable. In a speech w elcom ing this resolution, the woman leader T s'a i Ch'ang attacked "intellectuals isolated from the m asses who are always talking about w om en's emancipation. Although insisting on the need fo r a dem ocratic, harm onious fam ily, she also said "ou r slogans are no longer 'fr e e choice m arriage' and 'equality o f the sexes, ' but 'save the children, ' 'a flourishing fam ily' and 'nurture health and prosperity. " ,15 Isabel and David Crook have said that in the mountain village o f Ten Mile Inn in Hopei, after the resolution o f the Central Com­ mittee was received, it was realized that w om en's general em anci­ pation depended on their role in production. Woman-work* no longer involved launching cam paigns on so many fronts sim ultaneously, and other objectives w ere given attention only when they could be tied in with production. Thus by the end o f the war die position o f women in this village was g i^ t ly im proved econom ically, but other advances still had to be made. *1 use the term "wom an-work" fo r the Chinese, fu-ntt kung-tso. This m ade-up word seem s preferable to the usual m isleading trans­ lation "w om en's w o rk ." The term covers all sorts o f activities among women, including m obilizing them fo r production, literacy and hygiene cam paigns, social reform and so on.

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Many reports o f production heroines w ere published in this p eriod , but there w ere very few m odels o f the type later to becom e so com m on, in which peasant women fought back against ill-trea t­ m ent by husbands or m others-in-law . Each o f the border regions replaced the Soviet m arriage law with its own regulations» o f which the first w ere those o f the Shensi-Kansu-Nlnghsia region, prom ul­ gated in 1939. But at this stage there seem s to have been little w ork done to enforce them. What was the reason fo r this soft-pedallin g? That "full sex equality" had already been established in the border regions is hardly consistent with later statements about the very long period o f education and propaganda needed before it could be achieved. But T ing Ling was also told that fo r the sake o f victory both men and women should get on with the political problem o f im proving coop­ eration among all groups. ^ This was a very difficult period o f the war fo r the Communists, in which they had to unite against the national enemy with as many cla sses and groups as possible. In agrarian policy the m ilitant cla ss struggle o f land reform had been replaced by a m ore conciliatory campaign to reduce rents and in­ terest. Sim ilarly, m ilitancy in the w om en's movement had fo r the moment to be given up in the long-term interests o f socialism (and therefore o f the women them selves). Failure to recognize this was regarded as fem inism in a pejorative sense. In the 1943 resolution the main criticism o f ea rlier approaches to wom an-work was, "We have not regarded econom ic work as the m ost suitable fo r women, nor grasped that the m obilization o f women fo r production is the m ost vital factor in safeguarding their special in terests. The resolution continues this strong em phasis on pro­ duction throughout, stating, fo r exam ple, that work amongst women should be judged by how well women do in production, and that only through econom ic prosperity and independence can women start to gain liberation. The tactics o f the w om en's movement changed and developed considerably during the Civil War, and it is only in the late' 1940s that we have a sort o f miniature preview o f the social struggles which w ere to erupt all over China after 1949. But since econom ic independence arising from involvem ent in production was seen throughout as the key to w om en's equality and social indepen­ dence, it is im portant to examine this aspect o f wom an-work m ore clo se ly and to consider the attempt to establish women as a produc­ tive labor fo rce .

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The daily routine o f the northern peasant woman was hard. B efore she could cook she firs t had to husk and grind the grain. W ater had to be fetched, possibly from a distance, and she usually made both clothes and shoes fo r her fam ily. However she ra rely undertook rem unerative work and her dom estic tasks lacked status com pared with the m ore obviously productive job s done by men. Only exceptionally, if her fam ily w ere both short o f manpower and too poor to hire help, would a northern woman work in the fie ld s , and then it was felt to be a cause fo r shame. This was particu lar­ ly so in the heartland o f the liberated areas. J. L. B uck's surveys showed that nowhere in China did women do le s s farm work (they w ere responsible fo r only 5% o f all farm work) than in this, the winter-wheat m illet re g io n .19 Apart from the desirability o f in­ creased production fo r its own sake, the Communists argued that if women could make a significant contribution to fam ily incom e their status would rise in consequence. But although there are many reports o f women learning to plough and to hoe, clearin g new land and raising record crop s in the early yea rs o f the p rod u c­ tion cam paign, they are com paratively few, and it seem s that it w as still unusual fo r them to work on the land on any scale until the tim e o f land reform . This is confirm ed by a 1948 report which says that during the anti-Japanese war only in fam ilies o r areas where manpower was short did women frequently go to the field s. The main effort o f the campaign went into getting women to spin and weave because, cut o ff from the centers o f textile production by the Japanese o c ­ cupation and the Kuomintang blockade, the liberated areas w ere v ery short o f cloth. Inflation resulted and was aggravated by the in­ creased demand fo r cloth created by growing numbers o f men in uniform . When the problem was first faced in 1939 the solution attempted was that o f joint state-private fa ctories. But la rg e-sca le en terprises turned out to be difficult to organize in the prim itive countryside, and it was not easy to find the amount o f capital and the numbers o f fu ll-tim e w orkers which w ere required. Production did in crease in the next few yea rs, but not enough to satisfy demand.'*1 In 1942 Mao set the target o f making the industry supply the needs o f the people, the arm y, and the cadres by reliance not only on fa ctories but on cottage and cooperative handicrafts.

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Reviving the handicraft industry required considerable effort. The village o f Chehu in H sing-t'ai county, Hopei, was thriving by 1948 with 196 spinning wheels and 61 loom s in its 220 odd house­ h olds; but in 1942, its few spinning-wheels had been out o f use for y ea rs. Only three women knew how to weave in 1942, at least one o f whom had m arried into the village from another county. When she started weaving early in 1942 she had to make a long journey to buy a loom . At the start she had five companions but was quick­ ly joined by so many others that in 1943 they w ere already able to tide the village through a year o f drought with their earnings. This achievem ent gained added resp ect fo r them. By then a c o -o p had taken over the purchase o f cotton and the sale o f cloth and orga­ nized a training cla ss in weaving. Women w ere better clothed and could afford to buy draught animals so that they no longer had to push the heavy grindstones them selves. A beneficial sid e-effect o f this was a fa ll in the number o f m iscarriages and births o f deform ed children. Such obvious advantages w ere vital to the su ccess o f the cam paign as they induced women, already heavily burdened with dom estic work which could not be greatly reduced, to take on extra jo b s . Older women had to help younger ones in ord er to get every­ thing done. This was hard on the old er women who had form erly been able to sit back a bit and supervise the household. Now they w ere often left with both the cooking and the children while their son s' w ives went o ff to spin o r weave. In Chehu som e o f them becam e very annoyed. When their daughters-in-law returned from w ork they dished up only cold food, and grum bled, "Everything is upside down since the Communist Party cam e. M others-in-law have becom e daughters-in-law . " They w ere somewhat m ollified however when the young women brought back their earnings in the form o f grain from the co-op . It was common fo r women to group together to spin, reel and wind the yarn, and set up w arps. Even when the task did not ac­ tually require m ore than one pair o f hands, they tended to work together, sharing heating and lighting expenses. So much contact with others must have had a profound effect on people who had al­ ways led rather enclosed and solitary liv e s. As they worked in groups and arranged to care fo r each oth er's children they learned to organize them selves and their tim e. So much was the textile industry the concern o f women, that at the village level, it was frequently managed by the W omen's A ssociation. By 1947, the liberated areas o f Shan si - Chahar- Hopei and Shantung w ere self-su fficien t in cloth, and those o f Shansi-SuiyUan

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and Shensi-Kansu-Nlnghsia partially so. In the T'al-hang mountains about 74 o f (be women could spin o r weave, and incom e from sup­ plementary occupations, o f which textile production was (be m ost important, had risen to approximately 30% o f total household in­ co m e .23 (However this was probably exceptional since T 'ai-han g is a very poor agricultural a rea .) It was estimated that production o f cloth increased eight-fold in the liberated areas between 1942 and 1944. Other supplementary occupations in which women began to play an important part included the production o f vegetable o il, cured leather, and paper. Even m ore important were the sewing workshops which served the arm y. Besides cloth uniform s for the sum m er and quilted cotton ones fo r the winter, the soldiers had to be provided with Chinese cloth shoes, which take a whole day to stitch but can be worn through in only two weeks o f marching o r a few months o f ordinary wear. Bonus schem es w ere operated, with com petitions and ever-risin g production targets in attempts to boost produ ction .24 During the anti-Japanese war, woman-work was directed by the W omen's Committee o f the Central Committee (Chung-yang F u-w ei). In 1945 the Preparatory Committee o f the W omen's Association o f all the liberated areas was set up in Yenan with thirteen m em bers.23 At the village level the m ass organization was usually known as the W omen's National Salvation Association until the Japanese surrender, and afterwards m ore sim ply as the W omen's Association o r the Peasant W omen's A ssociation. By 1945 it is claim ed that these associations in Shensi-Kansu-Ninghsia and seven other liberated areas had 7,100,000 m em bers. Great stress was laid on the im ­ portance o f these associations as a way o f m obilizing women, and women cadres who w ere said to have underestimated (be im portance o f such work were c ritic iz e d .23 In 1948 a report was published to show the usefulness o f spe­ cial organizations for w om en.27 It said that in the winter o f 1947, several defunct organizations fo r women had been abolished in Lingch 'iu county, Shansi, and at the beginning o f m obilization for land reform no distinction had been made between men and women who all joined (be New Peasants' Association and the Poor Peasants' League. Few women spoke at meetings and they complained that it was not natural for them to hold meetings with men. They them­ selves admitted: "If w e're speaking with men present, those who ought to say a lot say very little ." The county leaders chose two

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v illa g es in which to experiment with separate organizations fo r women. T hese w ere a great su ccess; women attended meetings enthusiastic­ a lly and lost their reserve in talking, so the experiment was extended to cover the whole county. W omen's C ongresses w ere set up in every district and through these 90% o f the women were organized to play an active part in land reform . It was concluded that the prelim inary work o f m obilization was best done through two organi­ zations, one fo r both men and women, the other exclusively for wom en. The latter could hold small meetings where women would gain confidence in speaking. Such meetings should not last too long so that they would not inconvenience women with sm all children, and should be timed so that they would not interfere with household rou­ tin e s .28 In spite o f the existence o f their regional and central head­ quarters, the village W omen's A ssociations w ere subordinate to the lo ca l Peasants' A ssociation .28 This made them vulnerable to local cadres who might consider them selves as good revolutionaries and yet have very backward attitudes to women. In Ten Afile Inn v il­ lage in Hopei, middle peasant cadres forbade their wives to attend m eetings o f the W omen's Association which they called "prostitutes' m eetin gs."30 In Long Bow village in Shansi Province when Wang Y tt-lai, vice-chairm an o f the Peasants' Association forced an under­ age girl to m arry his son because he had already "bought and paid" fo r her, the W omen's Association was afraid to in terfere.3* In spite o f such setbacks, the im portance o f the W omen's As­ sociation in village life continued to grow. In areas near the front it organized its m em bers to sabotage and repair bridges and roads, to prepare food for the soldiers and carry it to them, to rescue and nurse the wounded, and to carry m essages and gather intelli­ gence under the cover of going to market o r visiting relatives. The im portance o f such support activities in m obile guerrilla warfare can hardly be exaggerated; they should certainly not be despised as a m ere secondary role. Information about enemy movements was vi­ tal to the survival of the resistance. The arm y needed not only friendly villages which would extend help when needed, but the un­ derground had to be organized so that even a sm all village could feed a hundred soldiers who might have to leave after only an hour. Even the collection o f this amount o f food presented form idable problem s in mountain villages where m ost o f the inhabitants grew little food fo r the market and were them selves living close to the subsistence level. Women were found to be better at this work

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than men because they knew how much grain (heir neighbors had in store and who might be persuaded to sell som e, and because they had m ore gift for talking people round. Communications w ere d if­ ficult and much o f (he fighting was in rem ote areas, so that several food ca rriers might be needed to supply one fighting man. "H ospital' administration, also often in (he hands of women, could be very com ­ plicated. In guerrilla areas, which were free territory by night but all too often penetrated by the enemy by day, a "hospital" had no centralized existence. Stretcher bearers carried wounded men to peasant hom es, gave b rief instructions on dressing wounds and on sterilization by boiling, and then disappeared, leaving the fam ily to care for the patient as their own. Medical workers might com e if they could, but m ost of the care devolved on the women o f the fam ily. If (he Japanese cam e to search (hey would claim the pa­ tient was a sick son o f the house, usually naming some highly in­ fectious illness so that the search might not be too clo se . These activities increased wom en's commitment to the new society by giving them a sense o f participation, and brought (hem experience and self-confidence which (hey then drew upon in land reform . Agrarian policy underwent a radical change with (he end o f the anti-Japanese war and the outbreak o f the Liberation war. It was no longer necessary to avoid alienating (he landlords. The peas­ ant had to be given a stake in New D em ocracy, to be shown what it could mean to him ; and so, after (he implementation o f "double reduction," or in som e places even omitting this stage, came land reform . The change in policy on women was less sharp. Too sudden and strong a campaign for wom en's rights would have alien­ ated many peasants, including even many o f file women them selves. In the words o f the Central Com m ittee's 1948 resolution on womanwork: 'I t must be recognized that this is work to change the peas­ ants' ideas and is a long and demanding job which cannot be hur­ ried. " 32 N evertheless, profoundly important changes occu rred in (he course o f land reform as the first paragraph o f the resolution ac­ knowledged: "Women have becom e much m ore aware and enthusi­ astic, and consequently there has been a fundamental change in their political and econom ic status, and in their position in the fam ily and in s o cie ty ." Under land reform , not only did men and women get equal rights to the land, but separate land deeds were som etim es issued.

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T o quote again from the resolution: "When the fam ily is taken as the unit fo r issuing land deeds« a note must be made upon them to the effect that men and women have equal rights to the land. Every m em ber o f the fam ily has dem ocratic rights in the disposal o f the property. When necessary» land deeds for women can be issued separately. " Women w ere quick to realize the significance o f this develop­ m ent. In Chao Chen village in Shansi» many said, "When I get my share I 'll separate from my husband, then he won't be able to op­ p re ss me any m o re ." Mass meetings to determine the division o f land, the disposal o f confiscated landlord property and the treat­ m ent that the individual landlords should receive w ere an important p art o f land reform . Women took an active part in all of them. In som e villages where all the able-bodied men w ere awav in the arm y, women were even the main force in land re fo rm .34 As the textile movement had encouraged women to com e out o f their homes and group together, so land reform led them to assume a bigger r o le in general village affairs. It is significant that a dispropor­ tionate number of women activists in land reform seem to have been widows forced by their atypical situations to represent their fam ily's in terests. M arried women must have left this important affair to th eir husbands in accordance with custom . At the same time the transition from scattered guerrilla fighting to la rg e-sca le, positional warfare brought many m ore men under arm s, causing a shortage of agricultural labor which could only be relieved by women. At the end o f the anti-Japanese war it was still unusual fo r women to do fieldwork, yet Teng Yingch 'a o claim ed that by 1949, 50-70% of the women in the older lib­ erated areas were working on the land, and as many as 80% in file b est organized p la ce s.35 Often it was not possible to find substitutes fo r the absent sold iers within their own fam ilies, and though it had been the re­ sponsibility o f the village cadres or the Peasants' Association to help them and see that their land was tilled, it was now m ore often m em bers o f the W omen's Association which undertook the w ork. Mutual-aid teams and agricultural cooperatives were m ore com m only set up in areas relying heavily on women in order to overcom e the shortage o f really strong w orkers. Both the m orale and the consciousness of women had been raised by the production movement and by land reform , and women

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increasingly cam e to reject their old subordinate role In the fam ily and in society. The 1948 resolution encouraged them to do so a c ­ tively and warned them against just letting things take their cou rse: "It should not be thought that once women take part in production all the remnants o f feudalism which still constrain them w ill ju st naturally disappear and there w ill be no need to do anything m o r e ." The resolution asserts that: "The basic policies laid down by the Central Committee Resolutions o f 1943 are still com pletely ap­ propriate, " and that, "after rent and interest reduction o r land r e ­ form has been carried out, productive labor rem ains the pivot o f the wom en's m ovem ent." However, production is no longer advocated as a panacea. The need fo r laws against foot-binding, infanticide, purchase m arriage and adopted daughters-in-law , followed by educa­ tion on the equality o f the sexes, is acknowledged. On the m eans to be employed in emancipating women, it states: The sm all number o f backward elem ents who want to preserve old feudal custom s and who constantly oppress women must be suitably struggled against where necessary. But it must be understood that this sort o f struggle is an ideological struggle amongst the peasants, and should be radically different from the class struggle against the feudal landlords.36 Propaganda and persuasion are advocated, and violence is by im plication rejected. But as in land reform , furious peasants som e­ tim es took things into their own hands and beat their landlords, so women in their struggle for emancipation som etim es resorted to violence. Jack Beiden recounts how the m em bers o f one village wom en's association beat a man to try to stop him from ill-treating his w ife, and when he escaped several won^p told her they would bite him to death if they caught him again. Reports o f such in­ cidents o f collective struggle are quite common but they appear to have been allowed to pass without action by the higher authorities. When women as individuals used violence it was a different matter. There w ere only four women in the prison in Yenan in 1946 and they w ere all in fo r the m urder or attempted murder o f their hus­ bands. 38 Violence som etim es made it easier for the wom en's as­ sociation to rely on persuasion alone in subsequent cases. For in­ stance in Long Bow village after one man had been beaten for pun­ ishing his wife for going to m eetings, the others all becam e m ore c a r e f u l . V i o l e n c e posed too great a threat to fam ily and cla ss

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solidarity to be condoned. The Long Bow W omen's A ssociation acted in a m ore acceptable fashion when it persuaded a poor peas­ ant to stop beating his wife by reminding him that it was hard enough fo r a poor man to find a wife at all, so he had better not drive her to demanding a d iv orce.40 These sorts of quarrels som etim es split W omen's A ssociations. Hinton says that though women w ere united in support o f their right to own land, they did not agree on free-ch oice m arriage, which the o ld e r women saw as a threat to their authority over their daughters and daughters-in-law .41 One o f the tragedies o f the traditional fam­ ily system was that it set women against each other. The m otherin -law was jealous o f her daughter-in-law, whom she regarded as a threat to her own position. In her efforts to establish her author­ ity over her son 's wife she was at best hard; in many cases her fe a rs and resentments poured out and she was cru el. In the course o f changing this situation, contradictions between the aspirations of the older and younger women inevitably em erged and could also ea sily manifest them selves in hostility. Jack Beiden met one young woman who, in her zeal fo r catching "bad m others-in-law " used to eavesdrop on fam ily quarrels and, at the sound o f blow s, drag the offender off to appear before a reform m eeting.42 In Chao Shu-li's story The Heirloom 40 the mother is gradually won over to her e f­ ficien t m odern-m inded daughter-in-law 's way o f doing things, but it is easy to imagine that the frustrations of older women, who had reached a position o f dominance within the fam ily only after many y ea rs o f subordination, must have been harder to resolve. In this transitional period when tradition was crum bling but had by no means collapsed, odd situations arose. A couple in their early twenties who lived in Tung-nan county, Kiangsu, had been betrothed since childhood. Both w ere Party m em bers and she w as head o f her village W omen's A ssociation, so they would pre­ sumably have been considered as amongst the m ost modern young people in their area. Yet though they had seen each other by chance som etim es, and had once even attended the same peasants' con feren ce, they had never spoken to each other. A recruitm ent campaign finally induced her to communicate with him because she wanted to urge him to join the arm y. She got the village political w orker to help her write a letter, in which she prom ised to wait fo r him and m arry him when he came back. In the meantime, she

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pledged h erself to care fo r his fam ily as though it were her own. Her letter ended with a shy suggestion that they should "m eet fo r a chat when you have time* " No doubt if the boy returned» die m a r­ riage was recorded statistically as a free-ch oice marriage* one o f a percentage used to prove the successful implementation o f die new law. But this s to i t probably tells us m ore than statistics- about d ie way things changed.44 In the liberated areas o f north China between January and June 1948» 64% o f all civil cases w ere petidons for divorce, of which the great m ajority w ere brought by women. Yet the new ideas w ere still far from being generally accepted. The other side o f the picture was brought out in figures collected by the W omen's Federados, which showed that o f 464 cases where a wom an's death had been investi­ gated 40% had involved women who had wanted divorces, but had been unable to get them .45 (There were both m urders and suicides amongst these. ) In 1950, Chang Chih-Jang, a vice-president o f the Supreme Court admitted: " . . . Because the feudal m arriage system is so deeply rooted, it is still no easy thing, even in the old liberated areas, to ca rry through the new policy regarding m ar­ riage. " 45 But at least the basis fo r change had been laid. Cases o f young women who set them selves against tradition by insisting on choosing their own partners and who won their battle, occu rred m ore and m ore frequently. They set an example in new -style fam ­ ily relationships. Through handicrafts, co-op s and work on the land women played a greater role in the fam ily and village econom y. The im pact o f such widened horizons on the individual and her conception o f herself could be revolutionary. Many might cling to the old idea o f wom en's subservience and dependence, but nowhere was it unchallenged. Women were to be found in the arm y as doctors and nurses, and even m ore important, in the political and propaganda departments. They worked in the new territories taken by the arm y as front-line representatives o f the new ord er. They worked in government administration, land reform and cadre training program s. By 1949 30% o f the elected village representatives were women. In government they numbered 20% of the cadres at district level and 10% at the county le v e l.4^ In China women struggled against a cruder oppression than women in the West have faced at least in this century. The Com -

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munist Party leadership encouraged them to struggle fo r their eman­ cipation in the context o f a peasant society in revolution. It held that the underlying cause o f wom en's social in feriority was her eco­ nom ic weakness and that the solution to the problem should be an econom ic one. However in a backward, agricultural econom y where physical strength is a m ajor factor in prosperity it is extrem ely dif­ ficu lt to make women, especially women whose energies are taken up with frequent child-bearing, econom ically equal with men. Not surprisingly, the attempt was only a partial su ccess. Even those who are them selves caught up in wom en's movements in the West m ay find certain aspects of the movement in liberated areas very alien. From our perspective, the right to work in the fields and a strict monogamous m arriage system may not seem desirable priv­ ile g e s. To understand the su ccess of file movement we must drop this perspective o r we repeat the m istakes o f some ea rlier Chinese fem inists who, as products o f an urban, bourgeois and rather wes­ ternized society, also failed to take account o f peasant realities, and in consequence had little im pact on Chinese society as a whole. Even judged by its own criteria , the wom en's movement in the liberated areas was not com pletely successful during the hectic years o f the liberation war, but a great deal was accom plished. Women organized to fight for their rights on a larger scale than ever before. In April 1949 the All-China Dem ocratic W omen's Federation was form ed to give unified direction to the thousands o f W omen's A ssoci­ ations in the old liberated areas and to the new ones organized in village after village as the P eople's Liberation Army swept south. M illions o f women learned to stand on their own feet econom ically, freeing them selves at least partially from their dependence on men. A s they broke through the bonds which had tied them to their homes fo r centuries, their social and econom ic status began to change. Traditional attitudes toward women were crum bling. In the words o f the 1948 Resolution they had "started on the road to com plete liberation. "

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NOTES

1.

Mao Tse-tung, Report on an Investigation o f the Peasant Move­ ment in Hunan (1927).

2.

Agnes Smedley, China's Red Army Marches (New Y ork: 1934), p. 57.

3.

A id ., p. 55.

4.

Mao Tse-tung, Chang-kang hslang tlao-ch 'a [Investigation o f Chang-kang d istrict]. Included in (he edition o f M ao's c o l­ lected works published in the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei liberated areas in 1947.

5.

See Chung-hua Su-w ei-al kung-he-kuo hun-yin t'ia o -li, pub­ lished in Hung-se Chung-hua. 18 Decem ber 1931. A lso Chung-hua Su-w ei-ai kung-he-kuo hun-yin-fa published in Su-w ei-ai fa-tlen (Jui-chin: 1934).

6.

For b rief biographies see Chung-kuo fu-ntt yttn-tUng te chungyao wen-chien [Important documents o f (he Chinese w om en's m ovem ent] (Peking: 1954). Women w ere active politically rather than m ilitarily in Kiangsi, whereas in Szechwan and Hainan Island they bore arm s on quite a large scale.

7.

Mao Tse-tung, T s'a i-h si hsiang tiao-ch 'a (investigation o f T s'a i-h si d istrict] in (he collection cited in note 4.

8.

Helen Snow, Women o f Modern China (The Hague: 1969), p. 225.

9.

Edgar Snow, Red Star over China (London: 1939), p. 230.

10.

Helen Snow, op. c lt ., p. 224.

11.

Ting Ling, San-pa-chieh yu-kan [Feelings on wom en's d ay], Chieh-fang Jih-pao, 9 March 1942. See also M erle Goldman, Literary Dissent in Communist China.

12.

Gunther Stein, The Challenge o f Red China (London: 1945), p. 206.

LIBERATED AREAS

89

13.

"M u-ch'ien fu-ntl kung-tso fang-chen-te chtleh-ting" [D ecision s on the present direction o f wom en's w ork] in Documents o f the W omen's Movement in the Liberated Areas of China (Shanghai: 1949).

14.

T s'a i Ch'ang, Ying-chieh fu-ntt kung-tso te hsln fang-chen [Greeting the new direction o f wom en's w ork]. Included in the collection cited in note 13.

15.

Quoted in Chung-kuo fu-ntt ta fan-shen [Chinese women stand u p ] (Hong Kong: 1949).

16.

Isabel and David Crook, Revolution in a Chinese Village (London: 1959), p. 69. See also pp. 100-108.

17.

Stein, op. c i t .. p. 206.

18.

See note 13.

19.

See J. L. Buck, Land Utilization in China (Nanking: 1937), p. 293; and The Chinese Farm Economy (Nanking: 1930), p. 235.

20.

Lo Ch'iung, "Chin-nien lai chieh-fang-ch'il nung-ts'un fu-ntl sheng-ch'an shih-yeh" [Production by village women in the liberated areas in the past year] in The Village W omen's Production Movement in the Liberated Areas o f China (1949).

21.

Lo Ch'iung, Shen-Kan-Nlng pien-ch'tt m ln-chien fang-chih-yeh [The cottage textile industry in the Shen-Kan-Ning border re­ gion] (Nym Wales C ollection. Hoover Library, Stanford, C a .).

22.

Liu Heng, Chia chia fang-chih-te Chehu ts'un in the collection cited in note 20.

23.

See note 21.

24.

See note 15.

25.

Chung-kuo chieh-fang-ch'tt fu-ntl fan-shen yttn-tung (The move­ ment in which the women o f the liberated areas o f China are standing up] in the collection cited in note 13.

90

DA V IN

26.

Teng Y ln g-ch'ao, T 'u -ti kal-ke ytt fu-ntt kung-tso te hsln je n wu [Land reform and the new tasks of wom en's work] in the collection cited in note 13.

27.

T 'u-kal chung ch 'u -h slen -le h sln-lieh-te fu-ntt tsu-chih h singshih [New form s o f wom en's organizations em erge in land reform ] in The Movement in Which the Village Women o f the Liberated Areas o f China are Standing Up (1949).

28.

Pel-ylieh-ch'tt t'u -ti kai-ke yttn-tung-chung fa-tong fu-ntt te ching-yen [Experience of m obilizing women during the land reform movement in Pei-ytteh d istrict] in the collection cited in note 27.

29.

D ecisions o f the Land Beform Conference (1947), quoted in the book cited in note IS.

30.

Isabel and David Crook, Revolution in a Chinese Village (Lon­ don: 1959), p. 107.

31.

W illiam Hinton, Fanshen (New York: 1966), p. 465.

32.

Chung-kuo kung-ch'an-tang chung-yang-wel-ytian-hui kuan-ytt m u-ch'ien chieh-fang-ch'tt nong-ts'un fu-ntt kung-tso te chttehting [D ecisions o f the Central Committee o f the Chinese Com­ munist Party on the present direction o f wom en's work in the countryside o f the liberated areas] (1948) in the collection cited in note 13.

33.

Hinton, op. c i t ., p. 397.

34.

Erh Tung, Fu-ntt erh-t'ung ting-le ta shlh [Women and ch il­ dren do important w ork] in the collection cited in note 20.

35.

Teng Y in g-ch'ao, "Chinese Women Help to Build a New China," P eople's China. No. 6, 1950.

36.

1948 Central Committee Resolution on women.

37.

Jack Beiden, China Shakes the W orld (New York: 1949), pp. 304-7.

38.

Robert Payne, Journey to Red China (London: 1947), p. 104.

See note 32.

LIBERATED AREAS

91

39.

Hinton, op. c l t .. p. 158.

40.

Ib id ., p. 159.

41.

Ib id .. p. 396.

42.

Beiden, op. c it .. p. 294.

43.

Chao Shu-li, Rhymes o f LI Y u -ts'ai and Other Stories (Peking: 1955), pp. 69-89.

44.

Ch'ien H siu-ch'ing ytt Chiang Chin-chai [The story o f Ch'ien H siu-ch'ing and Chiang Chin-chai] included in the Enlistment Campaign o f Women in the Liberated Areas (1948).

45.

Hsin Chung-kuo hun-yin w en -t'i [M arriage problem s in new China] (1949).

46.

Chang Chih-jang, A Much-Needed M arriage Law (Peking: 1950). Published with the English edition o f the m arriage law.7 4

47 .

Teng Y in g-ch 'ao, Chung-kuo fu-ntt yUn-tung tang-ch'ien te fang-chen jen-wu pao-kao [Report on the present direction and tasks o f the Chinese wom en's movement] in the collection entitled The F irst National Representative Congress o f Chinese Women.

Institutionalized Motivation for

Fertility Limitation

Janet W.- Salaff

THE PROBLEM AND THE MODEL After initial m isgivings based on orthodox M arxist ideology re­ garding population control, the P eople's Republic of China officially cam e out in favour of population lim itation. The government denies the dire Malthusian prophecy that population w ill outstrip China's supply o f food and natural resou rces. 1 Instead it supports popula­ tion limitation to ease the costs of econom ic growth, which under Chinese conditions requires a strong labour force and a concentra­ tion o f capital in productive enterprises rather than a high rate o f consum ption.2 By applying the experience of the developed nations, China has reduced pre-industrial levels o f m ortality and m o r b i d i t y . 3 This has decreased the expense to society of a non-productive popu­ la ce which dies before it repays the costs of its upbringing and training.4 As a result, China undoubtedly has a high rate o f popu­ lation grow th.5 Lower fertility w ill lessen the proportion o f chil­ dren to adult w orkers and w ill release fem ales fo r employment; fo r these reasons the government advocates fertility control. Ob­ servers lack data from the two national censuses (1953-54 and 1964)3 and registration system to assess China's success in fertility reduc­ tion. Instead the patterns of social m obility and social control which shape reproductive motivation must be evaluated. In so doing I ad­ d ress m yself to one main question: how has China's approach to econom ic development in the past five years affected the motivation o f her youth to reduce fertility ? The experience o f the now developed nations may not prove useful in charting the direction o f China's fertility levels. When Reprinted with perm ission from Population Studies, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, July 1972. 93

94

SALAFF

West European population growth was checked during periods o f Ini­ tial industrialization and urbanization, fertility reduction was m ost marked in the urban middle strata. The costs o f bearing numerous offspring exceeded their utility in the parents' drive fo r social m o­ b ility .7 If the Chinese w ere to imitate this experience they would plan fo r m ore urbanization, greater opportunities for m obility fo r the bureaucratic and professional strata, and an increase in con­ sum er goods fo r the entire population. However, the Chinese de­ velopmental model has shifted from this strategy to one that is his­ torically unique. The government has experimented with three approaches to m odernization. The earliest "Soviet" model (1952-57) featured investment in urban-based heavy industry; rapid social m o­ bility fo r the middle strata was stressed. In the second, a tran siX tional approach (1960-65), China's "New Econom ic Flan" allowed greater freedom to market force s, encouraging profit from agricul­ tural investment and trade. During these years Chinese citizens w ere encouraged to reduce fertility to gain econom ic rew ards, to win higher social positions, and to avoid political pressure. This was preceded and succeeded by a third, so-ca lled "M aoist" econo­ m ic plan in late 1957-59 and again from 1966 to the present. The Maoist approach aims at halting the urbanization p rocess and the partial industrialization o f rural areas. ® Income differentials by geographical location, occupation and social rank are narrowed. The political values fo r leaders stress "se rv ice " to the community without m aterial incentives. The schools and mass media curb competition fo r individual achievement and upward m obility. Young people should postpone m arriage and lim it fertility without the pro­ m ise o f higher social position. At first glance this approach to development appears to have pro-natalist im plications. Can the norm o f "serv ice to the people" really motivate young parents to reduce their fam ily s iz e ? Answers to this question w ill have far-reaching im plications. Failure to reduce population growth w ill Jeopardize any plan fo r future econom ic advancement. Furtherm ore, observers from less developed nations with low capital resou rces and outside international aid networks look to China's latest modernization strategy as an al­ ternative model fo r their own development. The demographic con­ sequences o f China's developmental policies thus figure in any evalu­ ation o f alternative m odels o f socio-econ om ic change in the Third W orld. In a system atic attempt to put and answer this question, I em­ ploy a model o f the utilities and costs o f children. 9 This model

FERTILITY LIMITATION

95

assum es that people's fertility responses are rational, because most people act in their own perceived interests. The inability to plan is a social fact to be explained, not an irrational response. I intend to detail the reasons fo r persistent high fertility and the social groups among which fertility can be expected to decline.

THE ECONOMIC UTILITIES OF CHILDREN The Child as Productive Agent in Rural China In the P eople's Republic o f China the peasantry is being trans­ form ed into a rural labour force organized without regard to kinship. In the p rocess the productive utilities o f children are decreasing. Evidence o f f e r t i l i t y d iffe r e n tia te , 1900-1930 Under the system o f private ownership o f agricultural property and fam ily businesses, children contributed to fam ily incom e. The follow ing tables show that in the rural hinterland and urban centres throughout the 1930's fertility was related directly to econom ic status.

T able i . R elation o f crop area o f farm to fe r tility o f m arried women, rural China ( women 45 years or over, 19 2 9 -3 1)

Sine of Cum

Average number of children per wife

Number of wives

Very large Large Medium large Medium Small

5-51 5*35

5-03

1.697 1.5 U

Total

529

10,286

*,94® 2,284

528 5-06

1.845

S o cia l d oss and fe r tility o f m arried women, urban C hin a (1women aged 40 years and over, 19 2 3 -3 1)

Class

Upper class Lower class SOURCES

Total number of children bom per 1,000 mothers Total

Living

Dead

6*50 4.700

4»570

1,680 2,400

2,300

Number of mothers

438 1,000

Herbert D. Lamaon, ‘Differential reproduction in China’, The Quarterly Review ofBiology, 10 ,3 (Septem­ ber 1935), pp. 308-321; John L. Buck, Land U tilization m China (New York, 1968), p. 385.

SALAFF

96

T able 2. Average number o f births fo r ever-m arried toomen, w ith at least one pregnancy , by age and rural-urban status, H upeh Province, 1959 Age 15-19 20-24 25-29

i‘6o 1-70 2*98

1*40 1*76 293

30-34 35-39

4 33 493 5*34 5*74 579

456

40-44 45-49

50+ Total, average Number source :

Average number of births Urban Rural

404 11,881

6*19

7*5 7-30 7*5 5*74 5*47®

‘Hu-pei aheng 22,251 ch'eng-hsiang fii-nu yuch-ching chi sheng-yu ch'ing-kuang t’iao-ch'a fen-hsf (Investigation and analysis of the childbirth and menstruation conditions of 22,251 rural and urban Hupeh women), Chung-hua fu-ch'cm-k'o tsa-chih (Chinese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology). I, January i960 pp. 5-11. The total number of women surveyed in the table is only 17,359; no reamo is given for the lack of data on the 4,892 women who make up die figure of 22,251.

It may be argued that the causal relationship was not that many children contributed to the fam ily's wealth but that after the fam ily becam e wealthy it raised m ore children. This direct relationship between fertility and wealth may be explained by the fact that high econom ic status led to ea rlier m arriages.10 A ccording to Gam ble's surveys in Ting Hsien, one-quarter o f die women o f the poorer fam ­ ilie s m arried at ages above 20. in contrast to 8.5% o f the women o f wealthier fam ilies. However, fertility by duration o f m arriage might not show differentials between social strata. If m ortality were higher among low er-cla ss adults, there may have been m ore years in which these women were not exposed to risk of conception. This could ac­ count fo r much o f the differential by social cla ss. Francis HsQ has argued that in the past rich er fam ilies con­ form ed to the values o f the community which demanded many m ore children as a sign of status.11 Children not only lacked productive utilities, he claim ed, but they conspicuously consumed m ore than they contributed. In fact, if the mechanisms by which children con­ tributed to the fam ily incom e are examined, we can see how the up­ wardly m obile fam ily in the late nineteenth-century agrarian setting employed numerous sons to raise the fam ily position. F irst, the nature o f property relations and inheritance patterns required that m obility be accom plished simultaneously inside and outside agricul­ ture. Since all sons held equal claim to the fath er's property, land fragmented easily. Wealth was obtained m ore readily through com­ m erce, trade, usury, army service and banditry than through land. Com m ercial wealth was legally insecure, and wealth was re-invested

FERTILITY LIMITATION

97

in land. ^ The structure o f the fam ily was suited to m obility through the division o f functions among sons. Following Myron Cohen, I focus on the chía o r the "econom ic f a m i l y , "13 which had a common budget, property, and fam ily head (chia chang). 1* Fam­ ily m em bers held kinship ties and econom ic claim s to one another. The chia was not necessarily a single productive unit; fam ily mem­ b ers w ere often physically dispersed, the offspring being sent by the household head, as manager, to different parts o f the econom y. If the offspring w ere successful, they would rem it their earnings, which he would invest. An able household head thus cornered re­ sou rces he could use to raise the econom ic level o f the entire household. 'P ost-1949 f e r t i l i t y d iffe r e n tia ls In Republican China the econom ic m ix was changing. Children lo s t some o f their econom ic usefulness, as com m erce becam e le ­ ga lly secure. In the cities one w ell-trained son becam e m ore prof­ itable than numerous uneducated ones. Parents lost som e control o v e r their offspring. The 1931 Nationalist fam ily code, which di­ m inished the power o f the chia head over the incom e and property o f the adult m em bers, reflected and furthered this change. 1{> How­ e v e r, rural property concepts w ere still fundamentally unchanged.16 Land continued to fragment under the im pact o f multigeniture, which lim ited social m obility in rural areas. Furtherm ore, offspring were n ecessary fo r survival, since m ortality was still high (see Table I). In the P eople's Republic o f China the nature o f property owner­ ship and organization was altered, facilitating centralized econom ic planning and control. Fam ilial control over children was attenuated even before the econom y was industrialized. The rural inhabitants w ere to be organized into a factory-lik e labour fo rce , and w hereev er possible they would work in rural industry on die basis o f sk ills rather than kinship connections. Urban culture was gradually introduced into the village. Has this approach to rural development reduced the productive utilities o f children in rural and urban China?I I can establish benchmarks regarding differences in rural and urban fertility in the late 1950's. One survey, conducted in north China in 1959, dem onstrates that fo r a long time rural women had borne m ore children than urban women. The differentials appear among women aged 30 and over, and among those who have been m arried eight o r m ore y e a r s .17

SALAFF

98

A ccording to Oils survey, younger m arried women in urban and rural areas had sim ilar numbers o f children. Urban women ov er 30 years o f age had somewhat few er children than their rural counter­ parts. Table 3, in which the duration o f m arriage is held constant, shows that higher rural fertility was not caused by women m arrying at a younger age. The table does not rule out higher m ortality among spouses o f rural women. For women with the same m ar­ riage duration, the average number o f children ever born is still greater at older ages; however, the length o f cohabitation with a spouse is not available. At that time the higher rates o f rural in­ fant and neo-natal m ortality may have amounted to as much as 50% o f total births. In the follow ing pages I present som e reasons fo r believing that the second decade of Communist power saw a drop in fertility among women in urban and rural China as a result o f changing norm s, values, and sanctions motivating childbirth. T able 3. A v era g e n u m ber o f b irth s fo r

ev er-m a rried w om en , w ith a t lea st o n e b irth b y m a rria g e coh ort

and rural-urban sta tus, H upeh P rovin ce, 1959

Years married

Average years between births

Urban

Rural

Urban

i 2

I'OI

0-99

3 4 5

1-37 1-93

2*34

i-oo I-I7 1*28 x*66 2*02 2*27

8

9

317 336

2*59 2*73

2*68

2-72

359

2*98 2*81 2-86 302 312

6

7

xo ii 12 13 14 15 16 21 26 30 N.A. source :

Average number of births

i*ii 2-04 261

3*92

419 430 4*48 4-65 4*88

3*21

4 11 4*28 4*8 5-03 4 *3

6*15

5*2

7*i 6

5*1 5* i 5*01

7-70 734 5*3

1*80 2*19 2*07

2-45 2*99

2-94 2 *4

3*44

369 3*95

4-to 5*i 6

Number of women

Rural

Urban

Rural

1*00

156 391 407

42 72 95 «4

1*7 * 2-34

241 248 2*64 270 2-93

2*80

2-79

2*68 2*80 2-78 2*78 311 2-93 3-21 3 *4 4*09

397 342 548 477 545

488 560 400 379 327 329 327 1*340

122 166 Ida

154 163 165 138 113 122 71 103 586

1*141 813 2,105

1*79«

349

137

«34

521

Ibid.

Rural Social Reorganization after 1949 Land reform by itself (1951-52) fundamentally reduced the util­ ities o f numerous children. P olitical struggle sessions accompanying

FERTILITY LIMITATION

99

land division led poorer fam ilies to believe they would have the op­ portunity to own their own land. Large, wealthy households o f sev­ era l related nuclear units w ere divided, but land reform brought little increase o f cultivable land into production. The land was par­ celled out to even m ore households and individuals than before. ® A s a consequence of the new regim e's prom ise o f increased wealth, but its inability to fulfil the prom ise, com petition fo r land must have increased. When these com petitive demands could not be m et, pressu res must have welled up for sons to seek roads to wealth, other than through investment in land. Although information on the Impact o f land reform on fertility levels is not available, mainland Chinese fam ilies probably responded by migrating to nearby cities and elsew here, by delaying m arriage, o r by lim iting fertility where com petition fo r land had intensified as a result o f the deep-seated reform . These w ere the responses in Ireland after the Great Fam­ ine and in Japan and Taiwan where landholdings were consolidated after W orld War f i . 19 With collectivization o f land and industry in China in 1956, p ri­ vate capital could not be invested fo r public profit. Family incom e derived largely from individual m em bers' labour in the collective. Remuneration was tied to the output o f the collectiv e's harvest and therefore was less predictable than factory wages. During 1955-57 and again from 1960-66, each person 's Income was differentiated by sk ill and hours worked, with the m ore skilled perform ance earning a higher incom e. During the "M aoist" econom ic reform s agricul­ tural wage levels w ere equalized. Skill counts le ss than willingness to work, political conform ity and socia l-cla ss background.99 Does the upwardly striving fam ily head now use numerous chil­ dren to im prove fam ily incom e? Children still have some productive functions in the commune. (1) To begin with, the household oper­ ates as a unit o f consumption. The household purse is managed by the patriarch him self, o r in younger homes by the couple sharing decision-m aking about household expenditures.21 Each fam ily mem­ b er contributes his o r her incom e from the collective to the house­ hold. Fam ily m em bers keep a part o f their incom e only if there is a surplus remaining after household expenses have been m et.92 (2) The division o f labour in the fam ily corresponds in som e ways to file traditional division of labour before collectivization .99 P eter Schran has noted that when household m em bers earned wages according to their strength and skill (i.e . under the wage system

100

SA LA FF

in force before 1966), the fam ily operated as a unit o f production, as in the past. Children and the elderly contributed the few est la­ bour points: they helped around the house, cared fo r younger sib ­ lings, and tended livestock o r poultry. Adolescent youths and women earned secon d-class labour points, while the father and adult sons earned the m ost, as before collectivization. One survey in the early fifties showed that before collectivization fam ilies with the m ost "la­ bour p ow er," i .e . with adult workers and few dependants, had the highest incom e. Schran also argues that before collectivization such fam ilies generally obtained larger fam ily holdings and that even after collectivization they continued to hold the edge in earnings. ^5 Do parents even now bear many children in anticipation o f their be­ com ing productive utilities in the com m unes? (3) Labour production teams apparently organize kinsmen to work together. The unit o f day-to-day labour is often the commune sub-unit corresponding to the village. Does not this mean that the fam ily operates as a productive unit, as it did before collectiviza­ tion? Despite sim ilarities to the pre-land reform organization o f the fam ily as a consumption and production unit, great changes in property relations in fact have rendered children less valuable. For one, the chia no longer operates as a legally based econom ic unit and fam ily members do not hold claim to the father's property. The house and its furnishings cannot be sold o r transferred outside the fam ily. In addition, the fam ily head cannot legally control the adult offsprin g's incom e. He must depend on custom ary fam ily norm s, which have been weakening. Next, while children are use­ ful w orkers, a fam ily can no longer derive gain from the offspring's surplus incom e because it cannot be re-invested. The sale o f p ri­ vate plot produce in the market place does not greatly enrich the fam ily because others cannot be hired to transform the surplus into capital. Hence, although fam ily incom e im proves after all young children have matured, but before sons m arry and them selves father children, the fam ily head cannot organize his sons' labour in order decisively to alter his econom ic status. Further, the quasi-religious link to the ancestral tomb has been broken and there is little im pe­ tus fo r children to work the ancestral land. T herefore, when par­ ents do plan to im prove their econom ic status they take the children out o f fam ily production and send them into the school system , there­ by hoping to steer them toward salaried incom e. Finally, opportunities outside agriculture no longer depend on nepotism o r connections through the fam ily line. 26 Land reform and

FERTILITY LIMITATION

101

collectivization have increased the number of political positions in the village, as well as the non-agricultural opportunities outside it. Adolescents enter the Young Communist League, o r the local m ilitia; they lead production teams and other political units, migrate to ur­ ban areas o r join the army. As industrial opportunities decline in urban centres and an emphasis on sem i-industrial workshops in rural collectives prom ises to absorb excess labour power, young people may seek local work. Again, they are placed in a job m ore through political participation than through old fam ily connections. In sum, peasants no longer regard numerous sons and daughters as productive u tilities. Two responses to the changed social structure have em erged. A Chinese peasant whose sons remained in agricultural-related work described the shifting econom ic contributions of children in this way: "You need two sons because you have to make sure at least one has ability. He must be good at agricultural work and clev er so he can contribute to the fam ily incom e. If you have only one son you can never tell whether he w ill be ' clever when he grow s up. But, if you bear a second one, you have a better ch a n ce."27 In tills view , the sons would remain in agriculture, engaging in petty trade and marketing of surplus from the private plot. Children re ­ mained useful in the econom y, but two sons w ere considered the maximum that could be used. The two sons means an average o f four offspring, which still im plies a high rate of population growth. The ideal fam ily size o f those wishing to rise in the political hierarchy, on the other hand, is low er by one o r m ore children. The politically m obile rural cadre explained that village youths like him self felt great pressure on their standard o f living and possible access to political opportu­ nities because of village population growth and job scarcity. "It is wrong fo r the fam ily to feel that if it has two grown sons and two daughters its incom e w ill be greater than if it had only one son and one daughter. In the latter case, one daughter is m arried outside the village, a daughter-inlaw w ill be brought in fo r the son, and the collective in­ com e and the number o f people there to share it stays the sam e. Each one's share is bigger than if there were two

102

SALAFF

sons and two daughters, because few er people would split the same incom e. So only the older generation would think that the larger die household, the better the incom e. The young understand that it is not necessary to have so many children In order to contribute to the fam ily incom e. Chil­ dren belong to the nation, not to the fa m ily ."88 This and numerous other accounts show that the productive utiltles o f large fam ilies among the rural elite, and to a le sse r extent among citizens at large, have been reduced. Productive U tilities of Children in Urban China The value o f children has declined drastically in urban China. Evidence is plentiful. Family firm s were eliminated by 1956, fo r exam ple, and there are few jobs to which child labour can be ap­ plied. Children are m ore likely to attend prim ary and low er-m iddle school in urban areas. 88 The desire to rear few children is shaped by the relatively clea r delineation of career paths in the urban set­ ting. In the fifties those who planned to raise their fam ily status in the Communist hierarchy would best have done so by putting their children through school and obtaining civ il service positions fo r them. But this path has becom e clogged since the early sixties. As w ill be seen, alternative paths to m obility had to be created by the regim e. The opportunities o f the urban labour force have been charac­ terized by a rapid expansion through the fifties followed by a rapid contraction. This has been true fo r both blu e-collar and w hite-collar occupations. The early pattern o f investment in heavy industry ab­ sorbed a great deal o f capital and the modern non-agricultural work force increased by m ore than 200% between 1949 and 1957. The to­ tal non-agricultural work force (modern and traditional) increased by only 51% over that period. (Part o f this in crease, from 1949 to 1952 especially, may have been the result o f im proved statistical reporting. ) If we look at the period o f highest investment in heavy industry, from 1953 to 1957, we find that non-agricultural em ploy­ ment did not in crea se.88 The development o f the modern sector thus m erely changed the m ix o f the labour force without apprecia­ bly adding to the non-agricultural work force. As a result o f such econom ic problem s, 25% o f the urban labour force in the sixties may have been unemployed.8^ In response to this dilem ma, gov­ ernment plans switched to stress the -rural development o f sm allscale industry. In 1958-59 experim ental, jerry -b u ilt industrial

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en terprises in urban and rural areas doubled non-agricultural employ­ ment and halved unemployment. 33 This has been tried on a som e­ what sm aller scale since the Cultural Revolution. Rural young people are not only discouraged from m igration to urban centres in search o f job s, but urban young are sent to rural centres to work. Fam ilies in urban China have experienced a sudden increase and then a sudden scaling down o f w h ite-collar opportunities fo r them­ selves and their offspring. Urban children found the channels o f m o­ b ility predictable fo r the firs t post-revolutionary decade,33 but after this period few new positions opened because o f the youthfulness o f the bureaucracy and the labour force (half die professionals were under age 26 in 1957). Thus, even urban-educated young could not obtain the jobs fo r which they had trained. The governm ent's res­ ponse to this politically explosive situation has been to send sch oolleavers to rural jobs o r urban factories. The urban school system has been reorganized to train students fo r the technical jobs they are lik ely to hold. At the same time the school socializes its pupils to serve the nation and to accept less desirable manual job s. What has this clampdown on aspirations to m obility done for the fam ily-building desires o f urban youth? W ill fam ily m em bers continue to find new values in numerous children if the possibilities o f their extra-fam ilial m obility are slim ? The answer would seem to depend on the satisfactions, roles and statuses alternative to eco­ nom ic m obility that exist and which w ill be discussed below. The Utility o f Children in Providing Old-Age Security In the past parents who bore numerous sons w ere confident their children would care fo r them in their old age. The Chinese Communists have not been able to substitute adequate w elfare for that provided by offspring. At present the agricultural collectives provide two sorts o f funds to support the elderly—w elfare pensions and old people's hom es. Urban parents depend on labour union in­ surance. None o f these offers an adequate substitute fo r the status and mutual help provided by offspring. Do offspring, therefore, give so much assistance that parents w ill have many children fo r this purpose? Rural w elfare funds are extrem ely lim ited. In 1960 only 1% o f the commune surplus was invested in such funds.3^ Only those applicants o f approved political background and experience qualify

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fo r support, e .g . widows o f soldiers and m artyrs. Those whose need is caused in part by bearing numerous children, despite com ­ mune advice, may have difficulty In getting support. Elderly peas­ ants with dependants expect to rely on their offspring fo r support in their old age. Children, too, gain prestige from caring fo r their parents. Thus, som e parents may still desire to bear sons, fo r fear they w ill be abandoned in their old age. The story told by a woman interviewed in 1962 by the Myrdals in northern Yenan illu s­ trates the continuing mutual obligation o f children to support their parents. "There w ere six o f us children, three sons and three daugh­ ters. Mother is still alive. She is 72. I send mother money. In 1961 I gave her 20 yuan. All six children send her the same amount, and this means that she has proper pocket money. She lives alone, but her daughters-ln-law go and cook fo r her. She still makes quilt jackets fo r the fam ily. " 35 Another kind o f community social assistance was introduced in 1958 when the Communists tried to counter such parental desire fo r large fam ilies by establishing "happy hom es fo r the aged. " T heir slogan was: "You don't need sons fo r support in your old age, go to the old folk s' home in stead ." These homes cannot substitute fo r the status that parents and children gain through caring fo r the older generations.36 Furtherm ore, old people's homes have to be s e lfsupporting; the elderly inmates do handicraft work and gardening. Since the elderly must work anyway, if they have children they might just as well help around their own hom es, as with child ca re, in­ stead o f going to the old people's home. In m ost cases hom es are used by those old people who have no adult sons o r daughters w ill­ ing to support them. Such services do have an im pact on rural social structure. Widows who might have been forced to re-m arry to obtain personal care may now be able to avoid it if assured com ­ munity assistance. In sum, the elderly expect to be supported by their offspring. Those parents who expect that their sons w ill be relatively successful will be prepared to have few children. The rest may opt fo r a greater number. In urban China w orkers and em ployees are entitled to retire­ ment insurance, the amount depending on the specific conditions of the union where they work. Generally, the w orker's status and length o f employment are taken into a c c o u n t . P a r e n t s who are

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supported by a working son o r daughter w ill receive pensions if their offsp rin g is disabled o r dies. The pensions are generally adequate to live on, but even so, many would wish their youngsters to help.

RELIGIOUS AND CEREMONIAL UTILITIES OF CHILDREN The religious norm s of the traditional Chinese community ac­ cord ed high status to those fam ilies with numerous sons who would w orship their ancestors in the lineage temple. Three religious units a re relevant to an assessm ent o f the current cerem onial utilities o f children: the lineage hall, the household dom estic shrine, and the wu fa—o r five mourning relations which provide support in life crise s . Daniel Kulp described the "religiou s" fam ily as one that was w ider than the chia: it included several fam ily units'*® which form ed lineage branches, tracing their ancestry from a common grandparent. Lineage branches w ere solidary if form ed around a hall with prop­ erty. *® After land reform the Communists took away the land and rem oved fam ily ancestor plaques from the halls. Since the halls could no longer support their community functions, they were easily taken over for meeting places and sch ools.40 At present, peasant fam ilies still observe spring and autumn festival sa crifices to ances­ tors, although they are requested to turn such festivals into days o f production and frugality. Large gatherings o f lineage m em bers are ra re r, fo r they are politically dangerous and the community can no longer afford them without land. Thus, the status form erly obtained through extravagant displays of ritual can no longer be publicly ac­ corded. One peasant commented: "We still meet together at festivals to worship our ancestral graves, but it is no longer necessary fo r everyone to gather as before. We ourselves— the older generations— think that when we die it w ill be enough if three generations worship us: our own, our sons, and our grandsons. That is enough. O ccasionally, expensive funerals are held by those without suspect political backgrounds. Fam ilies still surreptitiously pay respects to their ancestors In dom estic shrines. During the Cultural Revolution many homes tossed away their ancestral plaques as "feudal superstitions"; some o f them

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turned up as blackboards in schools* Informants anticipated that these plaques would find their way back into homes after political pressures ceased. The wu fu is not a structure» but is defined v is-k -v is ego and is relative to each m ale. The wu fu did not fully function in the early part o f the twentieth century. Instead a sm aller core of patrilineal kinsmen participated in mourning and m arriage cerem onies. The same core apparently continues to sup­ port its relatives at such occasions today, as suggested by foe peas­ ant quoted above. Thus, foe main cerem onial unit—the lineage branch, which traces its origin to foe ancestor who founded foe hall and incorpo­ rated property—has lost its solidarity. It was prim arily at this level that numerous sons earned community prestige. Since sons cannot now be utilized fo r cerem onial purposes, m ost o f foe r e li­ gious incentives fo r desiring sons have been rem oved. Elders still are respected by their offspring in the fam ily, but this worship is no longer integrated into the social structure. These religious val­ ues by them selves probably do not have pro-natalist results. Polit­ ical values supporting devotion to the community and service without remuneration have replaced religion in the m ass media and educa­ tional system . The main thrust of changes in values has not neces­ sarily been to replace the desire fo r large fam ilies with the desire fo r small ones, but to alter the reasons fo r bearing sm all fam ilies. The ability o f fam ilies to aggrandize them selves and to use their numerous sons to earn money o r to gain power in the community was transform ed by some into the ability to use fewer sons to gain fam ily power. Political values have been introduced in recent years to counter the latter motivation fo r sm all o r m edium -sized fam ilies.

THE ECONOMIC COSTS OF CHILDREN During foe Republican era foe costs of maintaining and raising children increased fo r the em ergent urban bourgeoisie. In the Com­ munist period those who sought to put their children through school, and who competed with their reference groups to im prove their life style within foe regim e's tolerated lim its, found numerous children expensive to rear. From 1949 to 1966 education com prised foe largest cost o f children as perceived by parents. The middle groups sought to put their children through selected urban schools with good reputations.43

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The cost o f schooling was low er than in the Republican era, but less money was available. Costs were greatest fo r boarding schools. They ranged from a kindergarten in which fees were $30 per month44 in 1965 to $3 per term in another. 45 Fees rose to $15 monthly in m iddle school. Recently a rural brigade in Szechuan complained that board and pocket money alone fo r a child in low er-m iddle school co st parents $100 to $200 per year. 46 There were no tuition fees at college level, but scholarships were not generous. At Tsinghua Uni­ versity the largest scholarships were $19.50 per month; many stu­ dents did not receive full scholarships and relied on siblings fo r monthly subsidies. Where both parents worked as cadres, each earning $100 per month, such fees would not be excessive but would require budget­ ing. Such parents would lim it childbearing to provide opportunities fo r all their children. Factory w orkers and peasants would have to save a much larger proportion of their incom e, for factory w orkers earned less than $50 a month and peasants earned from $12 to $400 a year, depending on the wealth o f the commune. Peasants also had to do without the labour o f (heir children fo r the interim , which raised the costs of their schooling. 4? In fact, schools did contain high proportions of w orkers and peasants who must have saved con­ siderable amounts to afford costs. Enrolment o f w orking-class youth in the school system may disguise the fact that many had parents who were cadres with w orking-class backgrounds. The main prob­ lem that the school reform s sought to overcom e was the sm all pro­ portion o f the cohort attending low er-m iddle school. Students o f w orker and peasant background com prised 19% o f college enrolment in 1950 and 67% in 1962, at which time only 1.4% o f their cohort attended college. They accounted for half the enrolm ent o f middle school students in 1950 and three-quarters in 1964. Varying esti­ m ates noted that from 50 to 80% o f the cohort were enrolled in 1957-58, but m iddle-school enrolm ent dropped to 20% o f the cohort in 1966.46 The sm all number o f school places available meant that parents with high aspirations fo r their offspring would push their children to succeed. This kind o f planning was likely to involve reducing the number o f children as w ell. Parents also saved to purchase consum er goods. This was an established pattern fo r the Chinese bourgeoisie of the early twentielh century. Now w orkers' life styles becam e alm ost as costly, as mid­ d le -cla ss values and standards were disseminated by means o f the p ress. 46 The lim ited production o f consum er goods meant that many

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goods were sought after at high p rices, e .g . saccharin, cigarette lighters, foreign fountain pens, m ost o f which were available only on the black market. The cadres differentiated their life style by consuming goods and services available by virtue of rank, such as housing, private m edical serv ices, cad res' and army o ffice rs ' de­ pendants' sch ools, and ca rs. Differentiated cadres' reference groups becam e institutionalized; they w ere patterned after the civ il service scale. Cadres competed with those at the same level and those below for higher status. F or exam ple, whenever two cadres met, each im m ediately would determine the oth er's rank in ord er to place him in the social system .50 Factory workers in the sixties demonstrated their relatively high status in the new regim e by the amount o f money they spent on consum er goods. Fam ilies o f skilled w orkers had greatly im ­ proved their social position since 1949 and were relatively better off than the unskilled w orkers and peasantry. W orkers' parents and neighbours, as well as co-w ork ers, urged them to spend their wages on celebrations, such as weddings o r funerals. They saved fo r such occasions over long periods. As expenditures to keep up one's social position increased fo r the w orkers, presumably m ore o f them delayed m arriage in order to m arry "w e ll." The incom e o f the peasantry could not be saved easily, fo r it was not as predictable as that o f urban cadres and w orkers. The peasants' incom e varies with the wealth o f the locale and the pro­ ductivity o f the harvest. In less prosperous areas expenditures equal incom e. In Liu Ling, fo r example, a woman spent from $4 to $5 fo r food for her fam ily (two adults and three children) fort­ nightly. V illagers accorded her great respect because she suc­ ceeded in remaining in the labour force while managing her house­ hold so efficiently that she purchased a bicycle at the end o f the year. Only one village woman had a sewing machine. ^ The dif­ ficulties in predicting their wages and in saving fo r consum er goods in such poor rural areas suggest that m ost fam ilies did not plan con­ sumption to obtain such goods. Accordingly, m ost extra money would be spent on dining ou t.52 In wealthier areas m ore money was avail­ able, and peasants would compete to im prove their housing and m ore o f them would purchase b icycles. The Cultural Revolution introduced reform s to the school sys­ tem and political pressures against the consumption o f goods which have reduced the direct econom ic costs of children. In contrast to

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the one-fifth o f school-age children enrolled in middle school on the eve o f thé Cultural Revolution, all children now are to graduate from low er-m iddle school. Parents pay little fo r school because children earn money through manual labour. School hours have becom e flex­ ible so that rural children can perform their homemaking and pro­ ductive chores. Education w ill not prom ise a payoff in the form o f passage to w h ite-collar or technical status. Schools in rural areas train pupils fo r agrarian-related activities rather than fo r college entry. Urban schools channel m ore young people from low er-m iddle sch ools to factory labour. Students in upper-m iddle schools in ur­ ban areas learn technical skills fo r (he factory, rather than take college preparatory cou rses. College entrance is reserved fo r work­ e r s and peasants who have been at work and who have demonstrated political loyalty, leadership talents, and technical abilities. The downgrading o f consum er goods as a sign o f status has recently been accompanied by emphasis on im proving the standard o f the entire productive unit. Each fam ily is urged to contribute its extra labour and time to the collective without thought o f individ­ ual remuneration. In sum, recent p olicies have culminated in an across-th e-board reduction o f such econom ic incentives fo r reducing fam ily size. These changes in the structure o f the school system and the down-playing o f competition fo r status and social m obility, i f taken by them selves, would appear to be pro-natalist. However, other social reform s have accompanied the reorganization of chan­ nels to m obility. In particular, for women in the villages there has been an increase in alternative opportunities to childbearing. A s the direct costs o f children have decreased, opportunity costs have risen.

SOCIAL OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE THROUGH CHILDREN The Status of Women in the Rural Family Marion Levy has described how the statuses attached to the w om en's role in the Chinese fam ily determined her desire to bear many children*.®* The main stages in her life cycle related to child­ bearing activities, and these have changed little. The first stage was m arriage into another lineage, which meant that all were tied to tiie community as m em bers of fam ilies of procreation and fam i­ lie s o f orientation. In other w ords, women related to the community

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through their children. There still is no social position in the natal community fo r the celibate. Ultimately, the woman must m arry into another lineage. As one informant rem arked: "It’ s the custom fo r people to m arry, even if they are over 40. As soon as the husband o r w ife has died, the survivor tries to re-m a rry. People should not live all alone, and if a woman can re-m a rry she should do so. A fter all, who is going to carry water fo r her otherw ise? Someone has to cook food fo r him. " 55 Only older women with children can refrain from rem arrying. A fter m arriage the bride is expected to bear a child im m edi­ ately. M arrying patrilocally, the woman is still estranged from her spouse. In foe past the strong filial bond meant that the son would align him self with his parents in decision-m aking rather than with the young bride. He did not publicly display affection toward h er, although he was affectionate in private. M arjorie W olf has observed on Taiwan, that this continued open aloofness and public estrangement means that the bride finds her closest support in a child. The child fills important emotional needs, and the young woman w ill try to have one soon after m arriage.56 In China, where the m ajority o f m ar­ riages are arranged and the filial tie remains strong, children con­ tinue to meet this need. The hierarchy o f relationships in the rural fam ily is shifting slowly as the emphasis on the conjugal bond strengthens. Where this occu rs file bride is m ore prepared to post­ pone childbearing, because her husband w ill satisfy m ore o f her emo­ tional needs. Family m em bers provide warmth that non-kinsmen do not provide, but this function could be perform ed by a sm all fam ily as w ell. As in the past, the Chinese bride becom es fully accepted into the household by the m other-in-law and often by her husband when she bears a son. Most rural respondents report that it still is considered important fo r a woman to bear a son to continue file fam ily line, whereas in urban China such pressures have abated. In addition to her role in reproduction, the woman has to so­ cialize her children and perform housework to keep the fam ily in the labour fo rce . One of the themes o f the Myrdal Interviews is that the highest praise is accorded those who manage their homes w ell, and purchase consum er goods from their earnings.5*^ They probably would not praise a woman who turned her back on housework solely to earn money. Housework rem ains a heavy job, but several children

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lighten the work as they grow up; older children care fo r younger ones* and each has a household task. There is a conflict between the contribution young children make in running the home and the extra costs they require, but this is not always apparent to the woman. If she must bear children to prove her worth, then she can have several, fo r they w ill help each other. It is thus necessary fo r the regim e to alter the image the women defined by their contribution to "expert" household manage­ ment. There are several ways to do so. In an effort to bring women into the community,» the authorities have tried first to c o l­ lectivize housework (1958-60)**® and later to distribute household tasks m ore equally in the fam ily (1963-64®® and 1965 to the pres­ ent). One article written in 1964 argued that housework should be shared: The rural areas have overcom e the old m ores according to which women cannot do any other work but housework. [Sic I Actually, we w ill see women w ere allowed to work in agricultural production. J Now, women and men alike go to work in the fields. If the housework is all left to the women, they w ill be m ore than busy. Every day af­ ter they finish work in the fields and return home, they have to build the fire , cook rice , wash dishes, feed the pigs, draw water, and grind flour, and still do the sewing and even feed their babies.®® Equal participation in housework is not a popular solution to the problem s of wom en's double work obligation. The older m other-inlaw feels she has earned the right to retire from active homemak­ ing; she looks forward throughout her m arried years to having daughters-in -la w serve her. The men w ill participate in an occasional task at their own discretion; they do not accept the obligation to share the housework. If successful, such efforts would release women from their chief roles as producers and socializers o f fam­ ily m em bers. This would have an anti-natalist im pact because when custom no longer demanded that women alone do housework, women would becom e m ore aware o f the existing costs o f rearing numerous children while perform ing heavy household tasks. The third m ajor stage in the life cy cle com es when a wom an's own sons have children. She socializes her offspring to m arry and have children so that she may have daughters-in-law to do the house-

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keeping and bear grandchildren to com plete the fam ily cy cle . Many respondents note that their own m other o r m other-in-law pressed them to m arry and have children before they grew too old. Since m ost children born in China are likely to survive, numerous ch il­ dren may not be necessary fo r a woman to perform toe tasks ex­ pected o f her in the fam ily. We have seen that many statuses can be attained only through children. Only if alternative expectations o f women Increase w ill they decide that few er children w ill enable them to perform toe traditional roles in toe fam ily while meeting the other demands on them as w ell. Rural W om ens Status in toe Community and the Importance o f Children Numerous obligations, expectations and responsibilities link women to the community; many o f them are related to wom en's childbearing activities. N on-fam ilial roles are becom ing m ore nu­ m erous fo r women in rural China than in the past. But at present only a m inority o f women, generally the younger ones, relate to the community in a capacity other than as a fam ily m em ber. In traditional China toe bride was integrated into productive activities gradually. Even in the southern rice culture where women perform ed field work, they did so only after months o f m arriage. Since collectivization, increased demands have brought the new bride into village production a few days after m arriage. However, she is still isolated from other non-fam ilial relationships. The intense pro­ prietary jealousy o f husbands and face-saving concerns o f parents-inlaw mean that brides may be excluded from co-educatlonal peer-group activities. Agnates proscribe organized sports, recreation and polit­ ical activities which bring them into contact with young village men. As non-kinship community activities attenuate, childbearing assumes importance. The older woman associates with other women o f her age and relates to them mainly through her kinship and childbearing experi­ ences. In winter the women look forward to sitting on their door­ steps, doing housework and gossiping about fam ily affairs. Even when seasonal work in the fields assumes priority, the division o f labour by age and sex means that women associate together. Older women fu lfil a community expectation when they m arry off their

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children. Traditionally, if the mother could m arry several offspring w ell, she demonstrated both her good planning and fam ily status.62 At present, women still assert fam ily status through arranging good m atches fo r their offspring. Women without children cannot ob­ tain this satisfaction. Finally, numerous children often are valuable because fam ilies and lineage branches vie fo r scarce political posi­ tions in the com m unity.6* Many parents feel m ore satisfied with several children to represent the fam ily. "Many sons mean that my fam ily is well protected," said one old grandmother. But two sons, she claim ed, might suffice. Integration and solidarity in the village depend less on kinship lines than before. In contrast to their urban counterparts, the bulk o f m iddle-aged and younger m arried women in the village still define their main so­ cia l roles as tied to childbearing and housekeeping. The creation o f non-fam illal opportunities fo r them is o f cru cial im portance to alter­ in g these pro-natalist institutional determinants o f fertility.

THE OPPORTUNITY COSTS OF CHILDBEARING The Chinese Communists have attempted to bring all adults in­ to the active labour force. A ccording to the M arriage Law o f 1950, m arried women do not becom e econom ic dependants of their husbands. The reorganization o f labour in the collective rationalized the labour fo rce , increasing the number o f opportunities fo r women to work out­ side the fam ily. Rural Women in the Labour Force P roportion o f women in th e a g ricu ltu ra l labour fo r c e One study describes the increase in the average number of days worked by each fem ale labourer in collective projects from 1955 (low er-stage collectives) to 1957 (higher-stage collectives). This survey shows that the proportion o f women In the total labour fo rce declined slightly after higher co-operatlvization. There may have been an actual increase in fem ale participation which is dis­ guised by the simultaneous increase in male labour participation in collective work (see Table 4). It can be seen that although women did not join the collective labour fo rce in the same proportions as men, they did increase

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T able 4.

Proportion o f nude and fem ale labour units and average numbers o f labour days per malt and fem ale labour u n it, 19 5 5 ,19 5 7

Male

Total 1955 100*0 Share of labour units Share of labour days 100*0 Average number of labour days per labour unit 96 source :

Female

1957

1955

1957

*955

*957

1000 100*0

54« 75*

56*7 71*7

45* *35

43*3

175

134

204

50

105

285

Adapted from Schrmn, op. at., p. 195.

their share o f work days during the year. In examining the increase in average number o f labour days fo r women, one should com pare within m ale and within fem ale labour categories, not between the col­ umns o f male and fem ale labour units. A "labour day" does not equal a full day's work; it is a conceptual tool based on a day's la ­ bour by a skilled man. This artifact o f computing labour days means that women might work a full day and earn only three-fifths o f a la­ bour day. Nonetheless, it is likely that women work few er actual days than men. The following data from 1957 show that women are con­ centrated in those classes o f workers who work fewer work days. One-third o f the women worked fo r less than 50 days, and alm ost two-thirds worked less than 100 days during that year. T able 5.

D ays w orked by nude and fem ale w orkers in 228 agricultural producers co-operatives, 1957

Number of days worked per year 0-50 51-100 101-150 151-200 201-365 Total

All labour units

Male labour units

Female labour units

176 19*6 l8’6

6*5 11*9 18*3 24*0

32*2 297 19*0 10*9 8*2 100*0%

i 8*3

259 100*0%

93

100*0%

source : Adapted from Schran, op. ctr., p. 196.

The same survey revealed regional differences in fem ale la­ bour force participation. Women work alm ost twice the number o f labour days in the southern rice culture as in other regions (Table 5). Weather and cropping patterns also account fo r some of these differences, fo r both men and women work m ore days in the south where there are two m ajor crops per year than in the north where there is only one. The regional differences in labour days worked are greater fo r women than fo r men, so it is clea r that cultural definitions o f the proper agricultural work for women assume a great

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r o le . That is , where sim ple agricultural tools are used, such as in the rice paddles, women do much of the transplanting. Few women till the soil where ploughs are used, as in the wheat areas o f the north.65 T ablb 6 . Proportion o f days spent in productive labour by women in the m ain geographical areas, 19 5 7 Area

North-west and loner Mongolia District North-east District Central District Southern District

Percentage of total labour force

Average labour days worked

Percentage of total working days

Males

Females

Males

Females

Male

Female