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The Encounter between Oriental Women and Western Gender - Take Xiaji andLiji for ExampleBai Lu, He Jiarong(pp. 112-119)The Asian Conference on Literature and LibrarianshipOfficial Conference Proceedings 2011ISSN: 2186-2281Proceedings URL: http://iafor.org/librasia_proceedings.htmliaforThe International Academic Forumwww.iafor.org


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, JapanThe Encounter between Oriental Women and Western Gender---Take Xiaji and Liji for ExampleBai Lu, He Jiarong1Address School of art design Tianjin polytechnic university,399 BinshuixiRoad,xiqing District Tianjin city,P.R China 300387 Bailu2Address International College of Business&Technology Tianjin University ofTechnology 263 Hongqinan Road, Nankai District Tianjin city,P.RChina 300191HejiarongPhone: bailu 86-13001358844hejiarong 86-13820574456Email: lubaimail@yahoo.comtjhejiarong@126.comAbstract: Theory of gender in Western society introduced to women’s historyresearch area provides a logical framework for the research of women’s history,taking the view from which oriental women could be read multi-dimensionally, thusbrings the change for those stigmatized and symbolized women. Take Xiaji and Lijias two examples, they were regarded as byword for evilness. The gender theory inWestern society gave us some special enlightenment that some choices they made indifferent historical contexts were intentional, and some were involuntary; they weredeviated, demonized and symbolized.Key words: Xiaji Liji Oriental Women genderIntroductionXiaji and Liji are the two notorious beauties in ancient China. However, they twowere utterly discredited in the Chinese traditional culture. From Zuo’s commentary,Guo Yu’s moral denouncements to Shih Chi and Biographies for Women’s orientation,to Chinese unofficial history’s description and literary works’ interpretation, todissemination on modern internet, Xiaji and Liji are synonyms of evil women inChina. They are in the top ranking of “sinful concubine” made by Liu Xiang. Andgradually they have become the negative examples of Chinese women. If gendertheory in the West were applied to the study of women in ancient China, theirsymbolized images will be changed. Gender theory in the West provides newapproaches to study the images of women in the ancient China.1. Background information of Xiaji and LijiXiaji was the daughter of Duke Mu of Zheng, the wife of Yu Shu, the Da Fu of theState of Chen, the mother of Xia Zhishu. According to historical records, two reasonscan be adopted to explain the origin of her name. First, Yu Shu used to fief in Xia andhis wife’s surname is Yi. Second, Zixia was the name of Zhishu’s grandfather’s112


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, Japancourtesy. As a celestial beauty knowing how to please men, Xiaji influenced manypeople’s destinies and multi-countries’ political situation, thus historically deserved anegative mark. Take a typical example in the history book of The second year of DukeCheng in Zuo’s commentary, she killed Ziman, Yushu, Linghou, Xianan, expelledKong Ning, Yi Xingfu, and destroyed the State of Chen. She had married differentmen and each marriage led to fight between them, leading trouble to the husbands.According to historians’ study, she first married Ziman and then Yushu, both ofwhom died at an early age without good end. After her second husband died, she builtintimate relationship with Duke Ling of Chen, Kongning, and Yi Xingfu at the sametime. Xie Ye frankly remonstrated this scandal to the ruler, sentenced nothing butdeath. Later Xia Zhishu shot Duke Ling of Chen, which caused numinous civildisturbances in the State of Chen. XiaJi was coerced into fleeing to Chu, and becamethe game contested among the ruler, Minister Zi Fan and Wu Chen, the Duke Shen.Finally, Wu Chen lost the State for the beauty and fled to Jin for asylum, and hisfamily executed.LiJi was Duke Xian’s favorite concubine in the State of Jin. Without her, he couldnot eat or sleep. He insisted designating LiJi as the first wife. In 665 A.D, the twelfthyear of Duke Xian of Jin, LiJi gave a birth to a son named Xi Qi. In order to replacethe prince’s position, LiJi together with You Shi forced Shensheng commit suicide.Other sons of Duke of Xian all fled to foreign States, “Duke of Xian sent Bochu, theeunuch, to assassinate Chong Er who fled to Bei Di and Jia Hua to kill Yi Wu whoran away to Liang, expelled Duke of Xian’s other sons, then conferred Xi Qi as prince.Because no other sons or nephews except the prince lived in the State, there was noGong Zu.” After Duke Xian’s death, LiKe killed Xiqi and Zhuo Zi, and humiliatedand flogged LiJi to death. After that, Jin had been in chaos for 5 years until Chong Errecovered the State.2. Sin of Xiaji and LijiWhat is the sin of Xiaji and Liji?In the traditional Chinese gender culture, these two women were tagged as “femaletrouble maker” and “female state destroyer”. Xiaji married several men and herbeauty disordered the State; Liji interfered in domestic affairs.During the long history of the Chinese culture, Xiaji has became the symbol of“beauty and Licentiousness”. In Zuo’s Commentary, Guo Yu, historians briefly judgedXia Ji on moral grounds. For example, in the twenty-eighth years of Duke Shao inZuo’s Commentary, ShuXiang of Jin wanted to marry with the daughter of XiaJi, yetreceiving his mother’s disapproval for “the beauty must bring troubles”. In HanDynasty, Liu Xiang classified women based on the moral standard of Ru, andarranged Xia Ji into the ranking of “sinful concubine”. Biographies for Womendescribes Xia Ji as “mother of Xia Zhishu, a beauty, a charming game of men.”Liu Xiang adopted simple cause and effect argument that linked beauty to Statechaos. “Because of her beauty, Xia Ji ruined Chen, expelled Kong Ning and YiXingfu, endangered her son, disrupted the King Zhuang of Chu, destroyed Wuchenand made Zifan regret and Duke of Shen’s family exterminated.” This descriptionignores the specific historical text which creates the “bad woman” image, strengthens113


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, Japanthe concept of “beauty makes troubles”, which later evolves into the Chinese genderculture. “Beauty makes troubles” becomes consensus, and Xia Ji declines into anegative female symbol for entertainment.Li Ji’s image of “interfering in the State affairs as a woman” was evidenced at thattime. Duke Xian of Jin conferred LiJi as FuRen. Shi Su, Li Ke and Guo Yanspeculated that she would curse the State. Guo Yu on Jin recorded in detail that,“After drinking, Shi Su said there are male and female soldiers. Even if Jin wonthe war with male army, it would finally be defeated by female army. Then whatshould be done?” “Why does it happen like that?” asked Li Ke. Shi Su answered,“When Xia Jie attacked You Shi, the people of You Shi gave Meixi to Jie. Meixitogether with Yi Yin destroyed Xia after Meixi got Jie’s love. When Yin Xin attackedYou Su, DaJi was given to Zhou, and then the same thing happened. When Zhouattacked You Bao, Bao Si was given to the King. After being favored and giving birthto Bo Fu, she and Guo Shifu drove away YiJiu and conferred her son as prince. YiJiufled to Shen, where people brought Xi Rong crusaded against Zhou, so Zhou perished.Now Jin with limited quality and short history accepts Liji and shows her favor. I amafraid same thing would happen. Besides, I have divined what will take place aboutattacking on Liji. And the divinations showed that the teeth stirred in the middle of abone, which suggested we would lose, and our State would split. The ruler should becautioned, otherwise we must lose our state sooner or later.”Comparing LiJi with Meixi, Daji, and Baosi, Shi Su reviewed the history of womendestroyed the States. Gou Yan and Shi Wei both expressed their ideas and worries.At the court, Shi Su warned other Da Fus that people should cut the trees fromroots, block the rivers from source, avoid disasters from scourges. Today, it is a cursefor the ruler to kill her father but keep the daughter. Being raised and indulged, shewill extend her avarice to revenge. Although she is beautiful, she has an evil heart.The ruler loves her beauty, so he will meet her requirements. When she gets theruler’s love, she enhances her desire, indulges her evil heart. Thus the State will bedestroyed and the scourge will be deepened. The scourge must come from beautifulwomen, as the same thing happened in Xia, Shang, and Zhou.It was recorded in Guo Yu: “LiJi rebelled as expected and killed Shensheng anddrove away Chong’er and Yiwu.” The words “as expected” echoed the prediction.The following words “Shisu knows the root of the disaster.” not only extends praise toShi Su but also reveals the cause of disaster—“women destroying the State”.The affair of LiJi was an important clue in civil strife of Jin, which, actually, wascaused by many reasons. The single-thread narration of Liji as the root of evilconceals the multi-dimensional history course, neglecting the analysis of deep-rootedinstitutional structure. The key to the strife mainly lies in the political group headedby Duke Xian, rather than Li Ji, a woman without any real power in hand. But thediscussion among Shi Su and others still deserves our attention.LiJi is equivalent to rebel and traitor in the eyes of historians studying pre-Qin era.Liu Xiang wrote in Biographies for Women that LiJi was a stepmother harming theDuke Xian of Jin. Besides, she murdered Shensheng with poisonous wine andreplaced his status. And Duke of Xian’s other sons all run away. Finally, although she114


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, Japangot punished, her deeds harmed five generations.LiJi was symbolized as women who interfere in domestic affairs by historians.The symbol gradually integrates into Chinese traditional social gender culture.3. Analysis of Xia Ji and Li Ji with western gender theoryThe stigmatized and demonized destiny of Xia Ji and Li Ji grabs a chance in westerngender theory, which inspires thinking measure for inspecting the structure of easternpatriarchal social gender system and decoding the images of women in ancient China.By applying the western gender theory Chinese specific history, the authors canoutline a framework of ancient social gender system. From a primary study, anassumption is raised that the framework is a complex system gained with a longprocess of evolution. On one hand, it is a framework after thousands of years ofaccumulation and quantitative change, completed till West Zhou. On the other hand, itincludes not only the relationship between women and men in social structure in theaspects of politics, economy, military, production, religion, marriage and family, butalso the culture concept and value system, such as moral, ethic and aesthetic standardsand principles. Professor Du Xiuqin has concluded a chart about social gender systemin ancient China. Based on this chart, this paper shows the historical status of XiaJiand LiJi and proves the viewpoint from social and cultural aspects that their notoriousreputation partially lies in the fact that their deeds overstepped the boundary forwomen within the social gender system.The following chart shows the gender system in ancient China. In this paper, it ismainly for the patriarchal gender system in HuaXia:classification relation males females definitionArea: betweenState and home,System-level Fieldpublicprivate the former isBoundarypublic and theAnd Divisionlater is privateThe activityspace: borderedoutside insideby home, maleactivities outsidethe home, whilefemale inside.agricultureThe duty: dividedSericultureby production andand wavingliving115


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, JapanValue-levelmarriageliving placefamilyPhilosophy,moral,temperament,ethic,insideoutsideMen are chargingmasterswomenobedienttheandareguests;family“married out” itsown daughter and“marriedother’s daughter.Taking a wife marry patrilocalityin”monandry polygamy The relationshipclassificationfertilityinheritancefuneralrelationbetween couple iscomplicatedCharacteristics and definitionFollowing the father’s surname,and male-preferredsons could inherit (the oldest soncould inherit the status and allsons inherit the treasure)male-centeredmale-orientedBinary benchmark, status-based, double moralstandard, cooperation-and-harmony-orientedsemantics, faithThe framework of social gender system in ancient China shows the status ofChinese ancient women. Since XiaJi and LiJi’s deeds were beyond the system, theywere rejected by the dominant ideology, and symbolized as bad women.To begin with, XiaJi violated the monandrous principles and patrilocality,maintaining relationship with several men.For Li Ji, apart from the “Yi Xia Distinction”, she blurred the line between publicand privacy and the division between the outside and inside concerning the FieldBoundary and Division. She intervened in the state affairs and broke the inheritancerule of the oldest son inheriting the status.In order to further differentiate their origin of destiny and to highlight the structureof gender system and gender culture in ancient China, we conclude the life of ChongEr, a polygamist:116


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, Japanwife/concubine husband remarksA woman from Zhou The Duke Wen of Shih Chi on JinJinThe twenty-thirdJiKuiJin Chong Er year of Duke Xi inZuo’s CommentaryThe twenty-thirdQiJiangJin Chong Eryear of Duke Xi inZuo’s Commentary;Shih Chi on Jin;Guo Yu on JinHuaiYingChenYing First married the The seventeenthDuke Huai of Jin, and twenty-thirdthen the Duke Wenof Jinyear of Duke xi inZuo’s Commentary;Shih Chi on QinThe twenty-fourthWenYingJin Chong Eryear of Duke Xi inZuo’s Commentary;Shih Chi on JinA woman from theShih Chi on Jin;state of Qin whenThe twenty-fourthDuke Mu rules Jin Chong Er year of Duke Xi inZuo’s CommentaryA woman from theShih Chi on Jin;state of Qin whenThe twenty-fourthDuke Mu rules Jin Chong Er year of Duke Xi inZuo’s CommentaryA woman from theShih Chi on Jin;state of Qin whenThe twenty-fourthDuke Mu rules Jin Chong Er year of Duke Xi inZuo’s CommentaryIt was recorded in the twenty-third year of Duke Xi in Zuo’s Commentary: thepeople of Di tribe attacked a small tribe with Jiang Jiuru as its chief, and seized hisdaughters Shu Wei and Ji Wei. They handed them over to Prince Chong Er, who tookthe younger one, Ji Wei, for his wife. She bore him two sons, Boqiu and Shuliu.Chong Er gave Shu Wei to his follower Zhao Cui and she bore him a son named ZhaoDun. When Chong Er was about to leave the Di tribe and journey to the State of Qi hesaid to his wife Ji Wei,“wait for me 25 years. If I do not return by that time, thenremarry.” Ji Wei replied, “I am 25 years old now. If I am to wait that long beforeremarrying, I will be laid in my grave! With your permission, I will just wait.”Chong Er had stayed in the State of Di for ten years or so. He was over 50 yearsold when he desired to make a comeback. Before leaving, he asked Ji Wei who was117


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, Japanonly 25 years old to wait for him at least 25 years. However, he repeatedly married onthe way of exile, including 5 women at Qin. On one hand, he thought the more wives,the more happiness man will have. On the other hand, despite that Huaiyingperformed wife duties to Yu, the prince, he disliked and ignored her. His attitudeprovoked Huai Ying. At last, Duke Mu of Qin mediated between them. Chong Eraccepted Huaiying reluctantly because Qin helped him recover his State.Duke Wen of Jin had great achievement in public area. His image on the moderninternet is like following: when he became the prince at the beginning, he was modestand studious, good at making intellectual friends. Then he left Jin to foreign States inorder to avoid political persecution. 19 years later, he killed Duke Huai and recoveredhis State. Under his rule, the State became prosperous. To foreign affairs, hecooperated with Qin and Qi, supported Song and rejected Zhen, respected the KingZhuang of Zhou and struck Chu. He reigned the State of Jin, helped the ruler of Zhouat Luo Yi, defeated Chu at Cheng Pu, met and discussed with intellectual people atJian Tu. As a creator of hundreds of years’ hegemony of Jin, he succeeded inliterary and military deeds, gaining high reputation in the following years and titled as“Duke Huan of Qi and Wen of Ji”. His achievement is praised by Schools ofConfucian, Legalist, etc.4. ConclusionThrough comparison, we can draw the conclusion that there were doublestandards towards men and women’s marriage and emotion in patriarchal gendersystem. Men were unconstrained, while women were restricted. Man could haveseveral wives, while woman must have only one husband. With this perspective, itis easy to understand why XiaJi was notorious and became the symbol of “femaletrouble maker”, while Chong Er enjoyed his immortal name forever as a greatking-- “Duke Wen”, a good demonstration of historical judgment on him.LiJi plotted coups and participated in the affairs of the State. She violated theestablished codes and regulations. The noblemen of the State of Zhou divided publicand privacy, inside and outside strictly. Men are in charge of public and outsideaffairs; while woman private and inside. So it is justified to symbolize LiJi as“woman intervenes in state affairs”.SupplementInspiration of the western theory applied to ChinaThere are different images of ancient Chinese women when they meet moderngender theory in the west. The densities of women who have been symbolized bytraditional culture have been changed. In accordance with western gender theory,we can outline the structure of culture system, where these women’s status ingender system and concept of gender culture at that time can be found. The motivesfor their actions are both intentional and not. As human beings, they have fault andsin, both optionless and painful. They are not good-for nothing, but demonized,taken one-sided, and symbolized.It is revealing to apply gender theory in the west to interpreting gender culture.However, we should notice that the culture between east and west is different.Cultures have different genes. The western theory cannot completely explain118


The Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship Official Conference Proceedings 2011LibrAsia 2011, Osaka, Japanspecific historical practice in the East. The theory is abstract and logical, whilehistory is diverse and accidental. Finding the scale between theory and history isalways a process and a journey, where we can find endless mysteries.References:1. Si Ku Quan Shu -- the electronic edition2. Zuo’s Commentary on Spring and Autumn Annals (revised edition) written byYang Bojun and published by Zhonghua Book Company in 1990;3. The Study on Females of Pre-Qin was written by Bai Lu in 2009;4. The Women and Gender in Chinese History written by Du Fangqin and WangZheng, and published by Tianjin People’s Publishing House in 2004.119

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