Revolutionary Christian Attitudes toward Women and Family in Late Qing and Republican-Era China


In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Chinese Christian familial ideals were traditional and revolutionary at the same time. They were traditional in wanting to preserve some role for parents in forming the marriages of their children and in seeing wives as primarily responsible for the care of children. But Christians were revolutionary in encouraging women to develop their personalities and work outside the home. They advocated women’s education and associated education with women’s empowerment and independence. Christians taught that marriage should be based on love and that daughters were just as important as sons, even if they chose to be single. Singleness, spouse self-selection, prioritizing the husband-wife relationship over the parent-child relationship, and pursuing a companionate model of marriage were all ways that Christians helped revolutionize familial ideals in China.

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