The structure of the Chinese family resembled that of families in agricultural civilizations in accentuating the importance of unity and the power of husbands and fathers in the family. › There was a strong emphasis on obedience of children to their parents, as well as women to their husbands. (No friction between the men in the family and women and children.) Shown above is a cartoon stressing the power or influence mothers had over their sons. Women were subordinate to men. They had their own clearly defined roles and could sometimes gain power through their sons. There was a clear hierarchical order for children: › Boys were superior to girls. › The oldest son had the most fortunate position of all. The position of women showed signs of improvement in the Tang and early Song periods, but slowly declined in the late Song era. The Confucian idea of male dominance held control at all class levels. The authority of elders and males within the family was supported by laws that stated: › beheading as a punishment for children who struck their parents or grandparents. › one-half years of hard labor for children who struck their siblings. Women remained subordinate to men. Unlike the previous eras, women in the upper classes in urban areas were offered better opportunities. › Could exert significant power at the highest levels in Chinese society. › Enjoyed access to an extensive range of activities. Chinese wives had more defenses against impulsive behavior by their husbands. › E.g. – Laws prohibiting a husband from setting aside his wife if her parents were dead or if he had been poor prior to marriage and then later became rich. The neo-Confucians stressed the woman’s role as homemaker and mother, especially the bearer of sons to continue the family line. They encouraged the confinement of women and stressed the significance of virginity for young brides fidelity for wives, and chastity for widows. › Widows were discouraged from remarrying. Men excluded women from the education that would allow them to join the civil service. Neo-Confucians designed laws that favored men in inheritance, divorce, and familial interaction. Upper-class men had a preference for small feet. Mothers began to bind the feet of their daughters at the age of 5 or 6. Bound feet were a constant source of pain for the rest of the woman’s life. › Limited her mobility; only able to walk short distances. This confined them to their households. › This means that they could not engage in occupations. The lower classes were slow to adopt this practice on account that they had to work in the fields, markets, or homes of the wealthy. The Ming era continued the subordination of youths to elders and women to men and youths to elders. Women were driven to underground activities to revolutionize their subordination and expand their career opportunities. At the court, they continued to do play vital roles behind the scenes. Women had to settle for whatever status and respect they could win within the family. Women retained the role as bearer of sons for the family lineage. The daughters of the upper- class were taught to read and write by their parents or brothers. Similar to previous eras, the lives of women at all social levels remained confined to the household. Male control was improved by the practice of choosing brides from families slightly lower in social status. Daughters continued to be less desirable than sons. Males were rather dominant and outnumbered females in the population. Beyond the family complex, the world belonged to men, with the exception of those few women that continued to work in the fields and sell produce in the local markets. The best a woman could hope for was a strong aid from her father and brother after she had gone from her husband’s home and good luck in the first place for being chosen as a wife, instead of a second or third partner. If they bore sons, wives took charge of running the household. › In elite families, the women exercised power over other women and younger men.