Born and raised in China, my consciousness about race comes to understand how a race may belong to a greater diverse society (global, national, community) but nonetheless remains a personal perspective of self in a social context. Politically, the boundaries of race affecting my standing in society becomes pronounced, when combined with the fact I am a female. As a member of a Canadian, community based upon the ideals of a free society, understanding democracy entails ongoing growing pains with marginalized members existing in the ideology of equality is something new in my worldview. Thus, the ideology of democratic Canada in comparison to the ideology of the government of China I grew up continues challenging my common sense about female issues in Canadian society and the rights I have versus those I do not have in China.
Growing up a girl in the formerly Imperial China where female status remained inferior to male requiring subordination did change somewhat with the Communist rule. This subordinating view of women also extended to present day China where, even though women can work as men do, Confucianism is paramount with berating women exhibiting strength of character remains common. Women who have pursued knowledge and occupy higher positions of office and viewed as powerful and intimidating to men, thus finding partners for these kinds of women is difficult even in the 21st century, due to the prejudice they face from the point of comparison between their sexuality and achievements (O'Sullivan 2012). In China, there also exists class hierarchy teaching how my life in my former homeland places me in a particular societal place. There are four classes; the lowest of these classes are merchants, then artisans, farmers, and peasants in second class and the highest of the classes are scholars and officials. My family belongs to the middle class, the class of farmers and peasants.
Growing up in such a society where there exists a line separating the place of women and men, I have learned to be strong. In the present day world, women have achieved many gains through the education sector; that is, women have also acquired academic degrees including master and PhD degrees. This continues intimidating men, especially those who have not reached such academic levels. As a fourth and last year academic student attending Canadian university, I must prepare facing gender prejudice because such attitudes continue existing among Chinese people in China's society if I lived there instead of Canada.
Identification of Subjective Feminist Issue
In this course studies, there is a particular point I am drawn, "What we consider common sense is socially constructed by those in dominant positions" (Bhuyan Slide 8). This is what happens in China and elsewhere (I fear) because so often it is easier to give in to this view than take a stand against unfair marginalizing views by those in dominant positions. Ideas such as those negative attitudes of males in China toward strong women, from a social context, reveal this very point. Another part of this course I am drawn is the example of how "social norms that guide behavior or thinking" (Bhuyan Slide 2 of Feminism as Theories) definitely frame the situation of men's attitudes in China toward strong women. Therefore, I see myself capable of taking a personal feminist stand against the marginalization of educated women by males of any society including China.
Why the Connection
The connection I feel about this issue of feminism projects wherever educated women find unfair treatment by popular but nonetheless unfair social beliefs. As already pointed out in this educational exercise, taking an activist stance against the marginalizing concepts about educated women makes the most sense to me because of what I know to expect should I return to Chinese society after achieving my educational goals in a Canadian university.
Identified Fears for Participation
Culturally and politically, China is not the place for challenging the status quo. This involves more complicated issues than just being an educated woman standing up to oppressive and unfair attitudes about my status as such. Considerations of the repercussions that could affect my other family members also take hold.
Personal Strengths Contributing to Participation and Challenges
There exists a quiet and dogged personal strength I recognize in self, offering a valuable contribution to participation in a feminist approach for changing negative attitudes toward educated women. According to Walker, feminist discussions "concerned with impediments and resistances to women’s understanding of what they themselves are doing" (135) too often exists from a social context. As a feminist participant in bringing about changes in societies holding negative attitudes toward educated women, and thus unfairly marginalizing them from acceptance as equals to men "conflicts between self-interpretations available to women (and others)" (Walker 135) holds a particular truth for me. This arises from understanding how the easier way for most women in the face of adversity from a social context results too often with turning away or against themselves and other women (135). Walker explains, "I think many feminists are concerned with the fit or the misfit between women’s self-understandings and women’s social lives" (135). Living in China, women have no right to vote whereas, living as a Canadian citizen, at age 19+ I have full rights afforded men and women equally.
This brings to the forefront an understanding I continue gaining clarity about how both "Women and men in many situations of subordination, oppression, or marginality may find themselves targeted for normative narratives that are already given, coercive, not negotiable, and disadvantaging" (Walker 135). My personal strength of integrity toward self underscores the value of what my feminist activist self has to offer. Walker's explanation that maintaining integrity may not be the only challenge in feminist activism, " but it is important to understand the kind of challenge it is."
Having a personal identity, my relationship to the society I live, my value, and what I want to contribute and get from life are strong points contributing to overcoming the challenges of a feminist approach to changing social marginalization of women. In reflection of the upbringing I experienced in China, the idea of returning as an educated even stronger woman from the experiences achieved here in Canada at university, contribute to my strengths as my feminist activist self. At the same time, this understanding brings the challenges, for participating as a feminist activist to the forefront in my desire to bring changes in attitudes wherever societal marginalization of women exists by any society.
Confucian ideology of Chinese society continues leading the social context of women's place in Chinese society, unlike the equal freedoms for every citizen male and female as a Canadian. From a moral context, truth remains culturally bound in ancient ideologies of the social placement of men and women in China. From a contemporary Chinese political context, this Confucian ideology creates a paradoxical truth that challenges both men and women of Chinese society to move beyond the existing social restrictions – at least ideologically - keeping both men and women from experiencing the humanity of a life worth living.
In reflection of this academic exploration of my feminist activist, self an epiphany of self evolves. The fact I remain supported by family and self in my educational journey in the freedom of Canada constitutes the most profound testimony to my inherent feminist activist, self as already existing and taking a stand against the Chinese society's marginalization of women such as me. I stand as an expression of the moral truth in opposition to the negative common belief of Chinese society continuing too often expressed in personal diatribes against such formally educated women as me.
In conclusion, in further reflection, the value resulting from this academic exploration of my feminist activist self culminates in reinforcing something already existing within the rudimentary make up of my character as a strong and determined human being. As first a human being, then a female, this understanding of self provides the most conclusive strength I have to offer to any feminist issue determined to keep such truth repressed by a common social context denying my rights as a human being because I am a female in Chinese or any repressive society. As a part of a free Canadian society and humanity, "We want to understand the shared reality of our social world and to bring this world into being"(Bill n.d. as cited by Bhuyan, Developing a Common Language, Slide 13).
Bhuyan, Rupaleem. The Common-Sense World. Feminism as Theor(ies) in Action. PPT
Bhuyan, Rupaleem. Concepts for Critical Analysis. Lessons from Anti-Slavery & Women's Rights Organizing. PPT
Bhuyan, Rupaleem. Why do Discourse Analysis ? Developing a Common Language. PPT
O'Sullivan, K. Role of Women in China. Fair Observer. 2012. Book
Walker, Margaret Urban. Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. Book