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China

  • By: Xueqing Xu & Feng Yuan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The role of motherhood is defined in China by cultural tradition and by the politics of the state. In China's long history, mothers were charged with the responsibility of nurturing, caring, and educating children, as well as looking after such domestic affairs as cooking and cleaning. Mothers were subjugated by a male-centered order in a traditional household, dominated by Confucian patriarchal culture. Their identity was defined by their obedience to their husbands and sons. Completely dependent on their husbands, both economically and psychologically, mothers were still expected to be role models for their offspring.

Beginning in the early 20th century, influenced by Western culture and communist ideology, some educated Chinese women began to break free of traditional values and fight for their rights. A dramatic change ...

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