Sexism and Classism were seen majorly in the communist China during the period lasting from the year 1949 to the year 1979. Sexism which refers to discrimination and prejudices that is not based on race but on the sex of the individual. This usually is channeled towards the female sex due to some ancient cultural, religious or social beliefs. This can surprisingly be seen till date in our present day society. Classism on the other hand refers to this same practice but with the tendency of being based on the race and social class of the individual. These two concepts are highly discouraged in our present day civilized society. However, during the communism on the other hand refers to a classless society in which revenues generated are owned by the whole community and shared among them according to the contributory capability and capacity of the people in the given society. It would really have been a great system if there has ever been a real communist society.
The number one evaluation and dissertation here is based on understanding what has transpired in this communist state. An insight on whether the structural form of communism that existed was really what it should have been is also worthy of note-- Mao’s form of communism differs significantly from the traditional idea of communism, and thus bears significant discussion. Deliberative understanding on the ill effects and awfulness of the racism, sexism and classism will also make a delightful impact on our minds. Endless views on the wrong notions as regards to racism and classism will also be appreciated.
Bosmajian evaluates the weaknesses and strengths in our language in his book. He points out that language leads to the down cast of the status of human beings. An example of this could be illustrated using Hitler’s final solution which could only become reasonable following such languages used by Nazis against the Jews like; sub-humans, vermin, parasites or bacilli” (Bosmajian, 1983) His work was on exploration of freedom of speech, focusing particularly on how governments and individuals suppress unwanted forms of speech within different societal structures. Bosmajian is a well-known author, lecturer and professor with a Ph.D. from Stanford University; he won the 1983 George Orwell Award from the Committee on Doublespeak of the NCTE for his book entitled The Language of Oppression. His work focused heavily on a thorough exploration of freedom of speech and the ways in which these freedoms are often curtailed within different types of societies.
The issue of language and the implications of certain types of language is a topic that is commonly discussed in sociological circles. Acts committed by Communist China which point towards sexism and racism had their backbone on language. Language often demonstrates what a society as a whole thinks about one gender or another-- to be a feminine gender and of low class rural dweller in the communist China is to be of the lowest possible caste.
In traditional Chinese culture, women were relegated to duties in the home; as a female, a woman was worth less to society than her male peers. Such duties that involve preparing dishes and house upkeep are for the female gender. The male gender on the other hand has to move out of the house to the harshness and possible wildness of the environment in search of food. During this period ranging from the year 1949 to 1979, communist China was staunch in sexism and classism. It is really surprising that such occurrence of classism could be seen in this region bearing in mind that it is a communist society which in its real sense should be a classless one.
One theorist that must be discussed in the context of communism is Engels. Engels was a German theorist, social scientist, philosopher; he is also known as the father of Marxist theory together with Karl Marx. In the year 1845, he published a book based on his private experiences, observations and research regarding the city of Manchester and he titled it “The Condition of the Working Class in England”. This book also boosted and confirmed that the emergence of racism, classism and sexism. There was a huge contribution by the existence of socialism and communism. Engels wrote one of the contemporary books that explain communism and socialism in some details. The books is the best of its kind due to the choice of words used in describing the different situations with illustrations that portray communism and socialism as just the best solution for mankind.
Lin (2013) focuses on the issues of class and gender, exposing the developmental advancement by the risen of these Chinese male migrant workers and how they marked improvements in their lives. The classism effect on the rural Chinese men is worthy of deep consideration here because the borders were broken eventually. From here a lot of issues from research proved wrong this notion that the low status the rural men had was attributed to their inability to adapt to the modern lifestyle. There were better appreciation of the world masculinities through these gender centered Chinese men politics with its emphasis on development and advancement. There were featured interviews on 28 rural migrants in this book. It is of great interest to this topic on racism and classism as it exposes the whole concept as a whole using research tools and information.
Noteworthy is the fact that any environmental challenge affecting China tends to affect also the world’s productivity and the world at large. So it is a very significant factor to world’s status quo, health and future.In China there was an advent of rural- urban migration activities which are not without their own benefits. This migratory activity has managed to create positive impacts on the lives of these former rural dwellers that developed enough courage to migrate (Lin, 2013). While there were feminist scholars that illustrated rural women’s experience as migrant workers in Urban China, the experience of male migrant workers is really empty and worthy of evaluation. The issue of male migrant worker is in a gendered form in this present literature as regards to rural-urban migration.
Judith Shapiro--environmentalist and researcher-- evaluates on how China makes determined effort to achieve her developmental stability swimming against the tide of massive poverty especially in its local and rural locations. The backbone of this evaluation emphasizes on national identity contest, justice in the environment, evolving civil society, globalization, governance and its challenges. Shapiro notes that China has always had a great potential for higher and sustainable development and this will require more focused and determined efforts on productivity and creativity in humility. China has undergone massive and tremendous socio-economic development and advancement over the expanse of three decades now (Shapiro, 2013). As such, there have been pivotal changes in the social norms and values as in the area of sex. Classism and Sexism existed in these past years in china basically due to this poor socio-economic condition in the country at that time.
Interview: A Grandmother’s View on China
My questions were channeled to my maternal grandmother who is old enough to know most of my family history. My grandmother is a seventy five year old widowed Chinese mother of three, who presently resides in the United States of America, got married at the age of nineteen, and retired since the fiftieth year of age as a sales manager in a private owned company though was a college drop out at the age of nineteen.
My first question was about where she was raised, whether it was in a village or a city. I was born in a coastal city in Southeast China she replied, but grew up in a small village in the Hunan Province in Central South China called Longhui. My second question was about her hometown, the neighbors and the people in her community. Her answer was that everyone was friendly and supportive for each other. The village was actually consanguineous and most shared the same last name.
After discussing the supportive nature of the village, I asked about how her family was like during her youthful age, how many siblings she had and her parent’s occupation. I also asked about the kind of parents she had and her relationship with them and how her parents treated her other siblings. She told me: “When I was young, my family lived a hard life. I have an older sister and a younger brother. My mother passed away early, when I was about 4 or 5 years old, and my father was a farmer by occupation. He was a very smart man, and also agreeable and well respected. He worked hard to raise us all, but he could only succeed in ensuring a basic standard of living for us. Prior to the commencement of his faming occupation, he served as an officer in the Kuomintang in Zhejiang province. After the Communists won the War of Liberation, the Kuomintang army was dissolved, and my father took my mother to his hometown- Longhui. My mother was the daughter of a landlord in Zhejiang province. She was a well-educated, gentle and sensible lady. Before she got married to my father, she studied at a college and she agreed to accompany my father to Longhui without a complaint. I was the most favored child at home. But my father still expected each of us to take certain responsibility. My older sister was about 8 years older than me and because of this; she had higher responsibilities that kept her out of the house. My younger brother was 4 years younger than me. I, my father and my brother stayed at home most of the time.”
I also inquired about her home duties and the economic condition of the family. She answered; “I fetched firewood, cooked food, did the laundry and cleaned the house. My family was having difficult times as every other family at that time.” In short, she was expected to do the women’s work in the family-- although she had an older sister, she was, effectively, the matriarch of the family since her mother had passed away. She took on that role of mothering her younger brother and maintaining order in the family home from a very young age.
I also inquired about the roles of her brothers at home and whether they were treated differently. She answered in agreement saying that her brother was treated differently and had different roles. He had to do most of the heavy works at home including helping out their father at the farm while she was the daughter stayed at home cooked and kept the house.
In a similar vein, she told me about the relationship between her family and the community; I was curious about this because of the nature of the Kuomintang and their dissolution in Chinese society after the end of the war. She told me, “There was good relationship between my family and the community. Before the Liberation, my family was like the Village leader. People respected my father, and his words were respected and adored. He always acted as the mediator in many dispute situations.”
The next question was on the duration of her education and the kind of schools attended included that of her siblings. Her response; “I schooled all the way till the 11th grade. I went to a public school. My middle school and high school shared one campus, and they were miles away from my home which was at a different town. I boarded there, and walked home once every week. My brother dropped out of school at 11th grade.” She also indicated that she had many classmates in each phase of schooling who were foreign; her interaction with them and their native lands, she replied that she had about 40 classmates and that they all got along well. She also mentioned that all her classmates then were from nearby villages and towns. Everyone led a hard and difficult life and as such they had to work together.
My grandmother also added that she was a very eager, smart and diligent student at that time. She always aced the tests and her essays used to be the model essays which were used by the teacher to teach her classmates. She also added that her biggest dream at that time was to go to college and flee from the little poverty stricken village. This was her motivation to study hard.
I asked whether she or her siblings had ever stopped school at any point and If so, when and why that happened. She answered and said; “I dropped out of school at 11th grade. I really wanted to go to college, but my family could not afford my tuition anymore. Also, since my father was of Kuomintang background and my mother of landlord background, my family was classified into the ‘5 black categories.’ A lot of opportunities were close to me, including going to college. It became impossible for me. So I agreed to drop out of school and support the family. The same situation applied to my brother. He also dropped out of school at 11th grade, and went back home to farm with my father.”
I also inquired about her activities following her dropping out from school. She replied that she got married immediately after she left school. She also said: “One of my friends introduced him to me, and we started writing letters to each other. After months of that, I left school, and then we got married. This was not surprising to anyone because it was totally normal at that time and most of the girls in this location got married the same way. Following our marriage, we travelled to Northeastern China together where he served in the military.” It did not seem strange to her that she would drop out of school to marry; on the contrary, she seemed to think that it was what was expected of her. This is normal in a sexist society, one in which men are placed higher than women. A woman’s place is not to get an education, but to find a husband and get married.
I went on to further inquire about her age at the time she got married, what her husband looked like then, his occupation at that time, her feelings about the whole process and the reactions and positions of her parents and siblings. Thereafter, she replied and said; I got married at nineteen and he was a pilot serving in the military in the Northeast China at that time. However, his hometown was a village not far away from mine. We both adored each other. My father was very open-minded about this because it’s his believes that I should marry whomever I truly love. My husband’s family also loved me so much and accepted me”.
I asked about her own job at that time and she answered and said; “At first, I worked in a military factory that was set up to provide jobs to spouses of the soldiers in Northeast China. It was a clothing factory. I worked hard was satisfied with the job. Thereafter, I had three children. I had to quit my job for some time to raise my three daughters. My husband passed away because of lung cancer when your mother was six years old. So I had to go back to work. I took the children back to Hunan province (the province where Longhui is at) and worked in another factory. I switched several jobs, but they were all similar. After a period of time most of the state factories were closed down, so I had to get a company job where I became a sales manager. I was about 40 years old that time. And I retired at the age of 50. I didn’t have choice of a career. I was actually glad that I could have a job. Because of my background, I could only take the job that no one wanted. I learned not to expect so much in life. When we came back to Hunan, I found it even harder to get a job as a single mother who was not that young anymore. Most employers didn’t want older women, especially mothers; because we would have to spend time to take care of our children”. In other word, there was strong sexism in operation in the employer’s mind in addition to the Utilitarianism theory used in employee selection.
I inquired about her relationship with her coworkers and she replied that the relationship was fine and that they never had any argument and never quarreled. The social exchange theory which is one of the contemporary theories was operative in this her social interaction at work. I also asked her about situations where she was treated unfairly at home, in school, in her community or at work and she commended that she was treated unfairly due to her family background, but not necessarily because she was a woman. She noted that her family was part of one of the five “black categories” that were delineated after the end of the war; her father was denounced and targeted at the Struggle Session for several times during Cultural Revolution. It was not until the end of Cultural Revolution that my family’s reputation was redressed. Here there was the Utilitarianism theory in operatively making a rational selection involving my great grandfather’s family.
Although the communist regime in China was designed originally to ensure that all citizens of the state were functionally equal, there is still all manner of inequality in China today. The Chinese society is no more post-feminist or post-classist than other societies; perhaps because of the one-child policy and selective gender practices, China is even more sexist and classist than it has been in the past. China only recently opened its doors to the west, and when it did, it witnessed economic growth unlike anything in its history. This economic growth came with a number of people making lots of money off the new economic system; suddenly, despite economic and cultural ideals to the contrary, China had a growing middle and upper class. These class distinctions have only become more pronounced and more problematic as time has gone on, and they show no sign of slowing or stopping.
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