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Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan Hardcover – August 28, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dorothy Ko is Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet (California, 2001). JaHyun Kim Haboush is King Sejong Professor of Korean Studies at Columbia University and the editor and translator of The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea (California, 1996). Joan R. Piggott is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University and the author of The Emergence of Japanese Kingship (1997).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (August 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520231058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520231054
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,040,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By alainviet on October 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is generally thought that Confucianism tends to subjugate women by promoting a patriarchal system and erasing them from official discourses and records. Revisionist Ko and collaborators attempt to show that women were "neither victims nor rebels within these Confucian societies (China, Japan, Korea) for they embraced aspects of official norms while resisting others." In other words, women were willing participants in the Confucian orthodoxy.
While agreeing with some of these thoughts, it comes to my mind that there is no mention in their book about Vietnam, which was a full-fledged Confucian society as of the first century B.C. Whether this omission is related to a lack of or difficulty in locating experts in the field of Vietnamese Confucian society is not known.
A cursory look at premodern Vietnam reveals that this brand of Confucianism had not only deprived women of their basic rights, but also promoted a strict Confucian patriarchal system that was not conducive to the recognition of their talents or dignity. The two best Vietnamese literary works "Luc Van Tien and Kim Van Kieu" were written by men who extolled the virtues of women faithful to Confucian norms. The patriarchal atmosphere was so overbearing that women had to embrace the norms in order to survive. Anyone who refused to comply with the rules could be dismissed as heretic or unfaithful and cast out of the society. Confucian Vietnamese women, therefore, cannot be described as willful participants of the Confucian system.
Ko and al. throughout their book have not convincingly dispelled the notion that Confucian women, except for Japanese women, were not victims in their societies.
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