Ping Yao - sexuality and gender in the history of east asia

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Ping Yao: Background and Research

Ping Yao is a retired academic who oversees the Asian studies and programs at California State University, Los Angeles. She holds an MA in Anthropology and a Ph.D. in history from Illinois University, both earned in 1997. (1992). Her study demonstrates an interest in the lives of women in ancient China as well as their religious sentiments and experiences. Ping Yao is presently working on Han Yu's Buddhist Women in Tang China, which she has written several books. (907). The feminism of Chinese Shun Ching Man, author of Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty, and politician Yuan Zhen (779-831), author of Yingying's Story, are more prominent. Shun Ching Man studied at the University of Hong Kong where she received a BA in Chinese studies. She continued studies at the same university attaining MPhil as well as the Ph.D. in the Chinese cultural history. She focuses on the Tang Dynasty basically on culture, feminist studies, and literature. Her work, the women in the Tang Dynasty of (618-907), brings about a unique aspect of Chinese history which bases on old ages but more efficient to be studied at the current era. Contrary to Shun Ching Man and Yuan Zhen (779-831), Xiaozi Zhuan comprises stories of devotion that are from four authors (Ji Mai, Li Shan, Qiu Jie and Guo Ju). Early- Medieval Stories of Filial Piety present ancient tales that historically are sources of education and warnings to the women in society. Similar to Ji Mai, Li Shan, Qiu Jie and Guo Ju, the authors of the Poems from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) see themselves as heirs who present the Tang literary traditions subjecting women to traditions which enforce women submissiveness.

Analysis of the Texts

Buddhist Mothers in Tang China presents the theme of women and gender in the context of the Buddhist tradition. Women's experiences are open to face religious traditions. As such, there is a challenging outlook of Chinese woman being a passive victim of the Confucian, a patriarchal structure which reveals how Buddhism provides a gender perception which is different from that of the Confucianism. Thereby, it is critical to provide Chinese women with an alternative pathway. Since the Buddhist nun is a favorite topic in the current twenty-first century, Buddhist Mothers in Tang China explores the role that lay Chinese women play in spreading Buddhist education, women subjectivity, their contribution to naturalization of Buddhism and what Buddhism contributes to gender identity1.

Focus on Buddhism and Gender

From a critical standpoint, it is important to focus clearly on the relationship between Buddhism setting that is men-dominated and their perception of gender. As such, it is important to outline how Buddhism understanding has shaped the Chinese society. Women should be a focus of gendering religious studies contrary to that idea; gender should nevertheless be put as a synonym for females. Since Buddhism is an essential aspect of Chinese tradition intertwined with Confucianism and other popular beliefs, it is clear that the ideology behind Buddhism evolved along with other antique and social changes. Buddhist Mothers in Tang China used to be suitable for the first and fifth centuries, for instance, the Lady Bian epitaphs advocates to bind the husband-wife affiliation as an ethical cornerstone that calls for blessings. Despite the conventional wisdom behind providing Chinese women an alternative pathway, gender inequalities are evident making female nuns inferior and subjective to guidance from their male counterparts. The message is unique since it incorporates Buddhism’s influence in women, making it suitable for both the antiquity audience and, perhaps, the current generation. Chinese institutions have to offer a profound impact towards Buddhism as well as gender systems in the country to make it suitable for the present generation1.

Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty and Yingying’s Story: Feminism in Focus

Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty and Yingying’s Story focuses on feminism as a major area of emphasis. Local Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty presents the Tang period which is characterized by the influences of Hun culture incorporated in different ethnicity. Hun being the culture from minority Chinese brings about the ideas of ethical behavior. Despite the cultural impact, there is less restriction and repressing Chinese women, they manage to develop their individualism which raises their status in the society2. Similar to Yingying’s Story, women status is elevated when Empress Wu Zetian emerged a Chinese emperor. The place of women in society is emphasized by both articles, their marriage rituals, legal status as well as women clothing5.

Critical Analysis of Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty and Yingying’s Story

More focus is on the code of conduct highlighting the consequences that one can face in a time of peril. The southern and northern kingdoms enforced education to women which were the basis for continuity of standards in generations to come. It is therefore critical to focus on the teaching these women receive education, to read and write aiming at understanding the present of such an antiquity era. Yingying’s Story awakens the idea of feminism in the tang kingdom. The status of women in China improved when Empress Wu Zetian emerged a Chinese emperor. The aspect of feminism makes women have equal opportunities in society without prejudices. The joy that Empress Wu Zetian shows the freedom that women have in the 21st Century. As such, the articles suit the current generation audience. Historically, the reports represent feminism and could be passed to generations through the legendary tales5.

Critics on Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty and Yingying’s Story

Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty depicts the content in the knowledge that is limited since women are not guaranteed total access to the subjects their male counterparts learn. Contrary to Yingying’s Story that shows women accessing education and power without prejudice. Ethics and virtues are enforced on women education2.

On the other hand, Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty presents such Chinese women work as weaving, making wine and plaiting. Their job automatically qualifies them in the Zhou-dynasty place for females to work such as in embroidery. The Confucian classics and calligraphy are only for the official scholar families implying that general education is with plenty of limitations2. In Yingying’s Story, women are not limited to work; they are allowed to occupy political platforms as well5.

Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty does not suit the current generation with a universal school system that is not limited to any gender. As such, it applies mostly to the ancient ages since biases in aspects of life are a gone case. Such history reaches people in the form of old tales and archaeological evidence showing the art and clothing2. On the overall, feminism is a favorite topic in the 21st Century; it began being pioneered by Domestic Education of Women in the Tang Dynasty and Yingying’s Story belonging to an antique era5.

Early- Medieval Stories of Filial Piety and Poems from the Tang Dynasty: Historical Lessons

The two Chinese poems envisage warnings and women education; Early- Medieval Stories of Filial Piety and Poems from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Xiaozi Zhuan comprises stories of devotion that are from four authors ( Ji Mai, Li Shan, Qiu Jie and Guo Ju) the stories present ancient tales that historically are sources of education and warnings to the society. Similar to the Poems from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), which foresters that Chinese women need to be respectful and humble in society. It is critical to date the stories since they apply both in old and current days. Basing on the audience, the piety tales are suitable for both the young and old ages, and they can be passed from one generation to another by word of mouth as legends. Though seemingly resembling, the tales are twisted to interchange the idea that each of them carries. Essentially, the change in the message implies the effects of word of mouth in history since people/storytellers may vary the information as time moves. On a contrary standpoint, the Poems from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) face a limitation in the audience since not all the poems featured into the historical world of songs, and few were as well preserved for the future reference. Historically, songs are passed through recitation and could be passed from one generation to another.

Importance of Poetry and Gender

It is critical to say that the conventional thinking reflected on the message that the poems carry and their gender. Since women are seen to be weak, their poetic skills are the only qualifications that could elevate them into the kingdom. Their tone is respectful and could suit all generations making them suitable for all ages. Word of mouth passes poems and serves the places of legendaries in history. When written, they can be preserved in archaeological sites.


Cheng, Chenyu. An incomplete inquiry: reading the filial piety stories through Lacan, or the other way around. Ph.D. diss., 2017.

Chen, BuYun. Material Girls: Silk and Self-Fashioning in Tang China (618–907). Fashion Theory 21, no. 1, 2017, 5-33.

Ditter, Alexei, Jessey Choo, and Sarah Allen, Eds. Tales from Tang Dynasty China: Selections from the Taiping Guangji. Hackett Publishing, 2017.

Heldt, Gustav, and Dorothy C. Wong, eds. China and Beyond in the Mediaeval Period: Cultural Crossings and Inter-Regional Connections. Manohar, 2014.

Jiang, Lijuan, Xinyi Cao, Ting Li, Yingying Tang, Wei Li, Jijun Wang, Raymond C. Chan, and Chunbo Li. Cortical thickness changes correlate with cognition changes after cognitive training: evidence from a Chinese community study. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 2016.

July 07, 2023

Women's Rights

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