The one child policy in China has without a doubt contributed to many problems in the Chinese society. Some of these problems include an enormous burden of senior dependency on the youth, highly imbalanced sex ratios, and difficulties in finding marriage partners as well as various problems related to the mental and social development of kids who may be spoiled by their parents and the extended family. It such issues that has led some scholars and humanitarians to call for the abandoning of this policy.
However, there are always two sides of a coin and this is the case when it comes to the one child policy in China. In spite of the many problems that are associated with the one child policy, some benefits have accrued from it. First, the policy has inadvertently improved or enhanced the intra-household status of Chinese female children. The policy has essentially enhanced the female children’s share of intra-household resources. This has contributed to a massive improvement in gender equality in the nation. The one child policy in spite of these advantages has not been fully accepted, in fact, many continue calling for its abolishment on a daily basis. However, if it is fully accepted, the policy might just transform the Chinese society into one whereby the dominant patrilineal kinship system ceases to be a key factor in everyday Chinese life and where uxolirocal marriages actively compete with the virilocal marriages in terms of popularity and where gender equality is fully realized (Hong, 320).
Before the one child policy was implemented, parents had the right to have more than one child and it was very common for parent s to show preference or favor the male children. In fact, the “son-preference” is something that has existed in China for centuries. This virtue had negative effects to the female children and it saw them being denied several life opportunities. The proponents of the radical feminism theory would have a feast on this Chinese situation. Radical feminism focuses on patriarchy as a power system that organizes or classifies society into a complex web of relationships based on an assumption that men are more superior. This superiority is them used to oppress members of the female gender and deny them some essential human rights (Beasley, 45). The proponents of the radical feminism theory aim to challenge and in fact overthrow this patriarchy by opposing some of the standard gender roles as well female oppression by the men. The theorists call for a drastic reordering of the society’s structure.
The radical feminism theory rose to prominence in the 1960’s. Ion the beginning, the radical feminists mainly prioritized on opposition towards violence because they saw as one of the factors that was upholding patriarchy. As time proceeded however, they realized there was more to women oppression than just domestic violence. They therefore started advocating for restructuring of the society to redefine gender roles and status in the society.
The radical feminism theory finds massive application in the current situation in China. In one way or the other, the one child policy is a supporter of this theory. Similar to the objective of the radical feminism theory, the one child policy in China has helped to restructure the Chinese society and the status and standards of women have been raised significantly. This is a concept that will seen throughout this chapter, particular in regards to education where women have become more empowered than ever.
One of the fiercest proponents of this radical feminism theory was Mary Daly (Beasley, 21). She believes that the domination of women by men is the oldest and worst type of oppression in the universe. She believed that for things to change, the society must be freed for some of the rigid gender roles ascribed to its members.
Going back to the situation in China before the implementation of the one child policy, it is clear to see that the Chinese society was a classic example of Mary Daly’s society where women were completely dominated by men. For example, the son preference virtue supported by Confucianism, brought out a patriarchal ideology that was officially supported by many and that seemed suggested that women were indeed inferior to the men and their roles were limited to the household (Lavely 241). A woman was deemed to belong to her family before marriage and was thus expected to fully obey the male figures in her household. After marriage, she belonged to her husband’s family and was the expected to fully obey her husband as well as her sons. This Chinese traditional culture clearly displays its patriarchal orientation. Deep-rooted in Confucianism, emphasis on the perpetuation of surnames as well as lineages has been male bloodline, this virtue has been practiced for over two millenniums, and traces of it are still evident in the current Chines culture. Sons have always been considered to be worthy investments while investments while the girls have been considered to unworthy of such investments. Consequently, Chinese girls have traditionally adopted a relatively lower status in the household and have in fact; most of their roles in the society have revolved around housework (Hong 318).
Such factors convinced many Chinese citizens that investing in the grill child was essentially a waste of money. Consequently, large gender biasness emerged and this was exhibited in a number of factors. It is in light of such factors that the proponents of the radical feminist theory called for a radical or drastic restructuring of the society.
Gender bias resulted in conspicuous gender inequalities with the most prominent one being the large gap in the level as well as education attainment between the males and the females in China. After the implementation of the one child policy, parents were only allowed to have one child, and it such a context, parents were forced to treasure their children regardless of the sex. The female child began being treated in a similar manner to the male child because the parents had no other choice, as she was the only offspring that they would ever have. As mentioned earlier seeks to traces the impact that the one child policy has had on the female gender particular in regards to education opportunities.
The Chinese have always placed great value in education as evidenced by the fact every year; the government sets aside huge proportions of money to cater for educational services in the country. The gap between male and female education attainment in Chin has been bridged by the introduction of the one child policy. The policy has forced parents to accord the same education opportunities to the female child just as they would accord to the male child. This factor has also led a reduction in the literacy rate between the two genders. Due to the bone child policy, women have acquired a new status and the society beyond merely being “someone’s daughter”. From this, it almost appears that the objective of the radical feminism theory has been achieved. In one way or the other, the society has been restructured and women oppression has been significantly eliminated.
The strength of the one child policy as well as its implementation has had profound implications for the female children as mentioned earlier. First, at the macro level, the reduced rate of fertility has led to the generation of demographic dividends, which has facilitated the expansion of basic education (Yang n.p). Form the year 1986, Chines kids regardless of their sex or even ethnicity have been handed a constitutional right and obligation of being given 9 years of education. This was something that was unheard of, particularly in regards to the girl child prior to the implementation of the one child policy. The rate of girl’s school enrolment has increased significantly across all levels (Lavely 241).
The policy has also raised the expectations that parent usually have on their female children in terms of education (Yang n.p). This has resulted from the fact that parents have been forced to place high value in their children regardless of their sex. Before the implementation of the policy, parent shad very low education expectations for their daughters and in fact dedicated almost all of their resources towards their son’s education. This was one of the reasons why there existed such a huge education gap between the males and the females in the Chinese society (Tsui and Rich 90).
However, some Chinese household is not one child based. Research suggest that children in Chinese one child households currently enjoy improved education opportunities compared to children living in multiple child households. In addition, research shows that Chines girls who have brothers are schooled for a smaller average time that those who have only sisters. This is a clear demonstration of the fact that traditional Chinese gender bias has played a significant role in the allocation of resources for education (Telegraph).
Research shows that the Chinese one child policy has without a doubt contributed to gender equality in the huge nation. The policy has massively transformed the prospects of the female child across the country, particularly in the urban centers where about 90% of the households comprise of one-child families (Tsui and Rich 87).
However, in spite of these benefits of the one child policy to the female gender, such as improvement I their social prominence, the women in this nation still face a lot of social equality battles because of the traditional conceptions that have deeply entrenched into the Chinese and which even the one child policy has failed to eliminate (Ren). This is once again attributable to the radical feminism theory that suggests that patriarchy is embedded into the society’s core and it can therefore very difficult to eliminate. For example, the women are still minimally represented in high-ranking professions and many gender stereotypes still face the women (Ren). In addition, China still faces an impending problem supporting the large ageing population as a well as comparatively narrow workforce. This is also tilted towards the male gender and this is bound to have massive implications in the future. There have been talks of relaxing the one child policy in China and while this could bring about benefits to the Chinese population, it may lead back to the traditional Chines culture that possesses a lot of gender inequality. Perhaps it would therefore be wise to first appreciate the massive investment that China has poured into the girl child in the last three to four decades since the implementation of the one child policy. What the policy has for the girl child and indeed al the women in the nation is nothing short of exemplary. The policy has opened doors that were previously closed for this gender. It has led to massive improvement and rise of their social status and they built themselves a new niche in the society. As seen in the discussion, one of the areas where this has been exemplified is in the education sectors where girls have now been able to scale formerly unimaginable heights.
Beasley, Chris. What Is Feminism?: An Introduction to Feminist Theory. London: Thousand Oaks, Calif, 1999. Print.
HONG, LAWRENCE K. "POTENTIAL EFFECTS OF THE ONE-CHILD POLICY ON GENDER EQUALITY IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA." Gender & Society 1.3 (1987): 317-326. Print.
LAVELY, WILLIAM R. "CHINA'S ONE-CHILD POLICY AND GENDER EQUALITY:A Comment on Hong and Mandle." Gender & Society 2.2 (1988): 241-242. Print.
Ren, Yuan. "How China's one-child policy overhauled the status and prospects of girls like me - Telegraph." Telegraph.co.uk. N.p., 23 Dec. 2013. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
TSUI, MING, and LYNNE RICH. "The Only Child and Educational Opportunity for Girls in Urban China." Gender & Society 16.1 (2002): 74-92. Print.
Yang, Juhua. "The One‐Child Policy and School Attendance in China." Comparative Education Review 51.4 (2007): n. pag. Print.