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Women’s Rights in France and China

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Women's Rights in France and China Although the cultures of France and China are a world apart, they do share one similarity (among others of course) and that is the treatment of women. In an age where men were seen as the poles of a standing hierarchy, women were expected to be subservient and obedient to their male counterparts. In all areas of life, even if it were a century apart, women's occupation was little more then wife, child bearer, and mother. The roles that women played were quite limited especially in areas of divorce, bringing legal action, and to own and/or inherit property. The authors, Jonathan D. Spence of The Death of Woman Wang, and Natalie Zemon Davis of The Return of Martin Guerre provide the readers an in-depth look at the cultures of both China and France where the lives of women were exploited in more ways than one. Women had little say in the ways of divorce, it was usually up to the man who decided if he wanted a divorce or not. As was mentioned before, women were little more then material possessions; they had no real value compared to their male counterparts. In The Return of Martin Guerre, Bertrande de Roles, the protagonist of the story, is left husbandless when her husband goes off to war. ...read more.


Her marriage with Jen was an unhappy one, she had bad relations with her father-in-law, and her family was extremely poor. She found a way out in the form of another lover and wished to elope with him. However, when that lover abandoned Wang, her fate was set, she had nowhere to run but into the arms of death through the rage of her angry husband. She died an undeserving death left outside to be lost among the snow. In most cases this wouldn't have picked up Clement Kuo much controversy but thanks to a man named Huang liu-hung this murder was brought to light. Thanks to him and some careful investigation Woman Wang did not die a shameful death for her murderer was beaten and had to wear the cangue around his neck to serve as punishment and a reminder of his sin. Jonathan D. Spence and Natalie Zemon Davis both illustrated the fate of two women as they were forced to make decisions that were outside the laws of their culture. The only difference was that Woman Wang met a fate much harsher than the one that Bertrande de Rols had to face. In both cultures women were viewed as inferiors to their male counterparts, they were expected of little more then providing a child and taking care of both the child and the husband. ...read more.


In both societies the inheritance of land often goes to the first male of the family. Thus a woman may be able to inherit a parcel of land from her deceased husband, but that is until her son comes of age and is capable of taking the land into his own hands to shape into his image. A woman no matter what culture we are talking about never gained the absolute advantage of owning land. Although the cultures of France and China differ in many monumental ways, their underlying treatments of women were connected in an ironic sense. The Return of Martin Guerre, and The Death of Woman Wang illustrates this point sufficiently. In societies where the rich dominate and feed off of the poor there is always room for the poor to look down upon. Women were nothing more then objects in this cruel society. Clement Kuo They came in second in ways of thought. Men, no matter what the position that they held be it that of a serf or that of an emperor, always had women to look down upon as nothing more then trophies. These are the ways a peasant woman in 16th-century France and 17th-century China were viewed in the eyes of her fellow human beings and her status among her peers in her society. ...read more.

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