Women in Chinese Society
In the article The Named and the Nameless: Gender and Person in Chinese Society by Rubie S. Watson the social structure and the role of women in China is deeply connected with the patrilineal values of the culture. She specifically studies the Cantonese culture of Ha Tsuen located in the northwest corner of the New Territories (Watson 208). She focuses on the act of name giving and how this act is directly related with the status of a male, also how name giving is extraordinarily different between men and women. Where men have multiple names to show status, women are essentially nameless (Watson 207).
The social structure of the Ha Tsuen is represented by names. When an infant is born he or she is not named until they are at least a month old, this is because during the first month an infant’s soul is more susceptible to soul loss (Watson 208). The ceremony of naming the infant is called “full moon,” and this is where the difference in status between males and female is first evident. Males will be given a protective name such as, “little slave girl” in hopes of the child being ignored from wandering ghosts and have an elaborate celebration. Women will be given a less admirable name such as “joined to brother” or “little mistake” and have little or no ceremony (Watson 209).
Another way the social structure is shown is by the little social status women have. Women in this culture have no right to inherit land, nor are their given names entered into genealogies (Watson 211). When a woman is married she loses what ever name she has gone by before that time (Watson 214). “The lowest moment of a women’s life in traditional China was her wedding day. Cut off from her first or natal family, the young bride was an outsider and the object of deep suspicion in her new husband’s household” (Ward 109). After marriage a woman’s name is formed by kin terminology or category shifts, such as, nonmother to mother and reproducer to nonreproducer...