THE BOURGEOIS HOUSEWIFE AS LABORER IN LATE QING AND EARLY REPUBLICAN SHANGHAI

in NAN NÜ
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Abstract

During the late Qing and early Republic, Chinese reformers, such as Liang Qichao, argued that because all women were "consumers" and not "producers," they had weakened the state by posing a financial burden to the family and a collective impediment to economic development. This article examines the diverse responses inspired by this construction of womanhood as they appeared in the burgeoning female press of the period. Deploying this new medium of communication, the women and men who endeavored to define nügong, female labor, embedded in their representations of "women's work" contrary interpretations of what it meant to be a productive citizen, an industrious member of the middle class, and an educated woman who labored in public or private. Thus, nügong discourse not only considered new characterizations of female labor in the context of a society and an economy in transition, but it also acted as a site for negotiating competing and intersecting conceptions of nationalism, class, and gender.

NAN NÜ

Men, Women and Gender in China

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