In the feudal society of ancient China, men were often valued over women. Women often become the vassal of men, and they have no chance to realize themselves. But in the history of China, did all dynasties really value men over women? In fact, it was different from the Song Dynasty.
In the Song Dynasty, most ordinary families like to have daughters. If they are boys, they may be abandoned by their parents. Song Dynasty was the heyday of economic and cultural development in ancient feudal society in China. How was the dominant position of women in society affected by the economic culture of the Song Dynasty?
The advantages of daughters in Song Dynasty:
1) Women in Song Dynasty had the right of inheritance as men, and played an irreplaceable role in the entertainment industry and textile handicraft industry;
2) Politically, there were as many as five empress dowagers in power in Song Dynasty;
3) In the Song Dynasty, women’s dowry was very rich when they got married, and women’s remarriage in the Song Dynasty was not discriminated against.
Why did the Song Dynasty place so much emphasis on women than men?
1) An enlightened ethos of the times
The agriculture, handicraft industry, and Commerce of the Song Dynasty made outstanding achievements. Women gradually step out of the family to participate in textile and other handicraft industries.
The Song Dynasty adopted the policy of encouraging trade. The enlightened policy made the foreign trade of the Song Dynasty expand continuously, and the Song Dynasty became a big trading country. The development of the economy has directly brought about the opening of thought and the prosperity of culture.
The open ethos of the times has improved the tolerance of the times to women. The Song Dynasty abandoned the idea that women without talent are a virtue. Women of all walks of life had the opportunity to contact the education of literature and art. The Song Dynasty also gave women freedom of marriage and the right to inherit property.
2) Developed entertainment industry
The direct reason why families love to have daughters in the Song Dynasty was closely related to the entertainment industry at that time.
The rich life of the people in the Song Dynasty promoted the rapid development of the entertainment industry. From poetry to instrumental music and calligraphy, to animal training martial arts, the vast entertainment market needs a large number of versatile women to meet the market demand.
3) The scarcity of excellent talents
In the Song Dynasty, geisha were not the same as the traditional prostitutes. Many of them were not prostitutes, so they would not be looked down upon. If they could have both political integrity and ability, they would not only get a lot of rewards but also be respected by the public.
Artists of Song Dynasty
The development of the entertainment industry became the pillar of the national economy of the Song Dynasty. In order to maintain this important economy, some owners of Washe attached great importance to the selection and cultivation of entertainment talents.
Therefore, if ordinary families in Song Dynasty gave birth to daughters, they were willing to send them to the Washery to train them to learn singing and dancing literature, and art, which not only saved the family expenses but also found a good home for their daughters.
The status of the Song Dynasty artists is a bit like today’s stars, which are sought after by countless people. For example, Li Shishi, a famous geisha of the Song Dynasty, was adopted by the pimp. At the age of 15, Mrs. Li has become a famous singing and dancing prostitute in the capital city. She is full of talent and learning, and people dare not blaspheme.
Liang Hongyu is a famous heroine of the Song Dynasty who fought against the Jin Dynasty. Because her grandfather and father were dead in the war, Liang Hongyu became a prostitute. Although her life is in trouble, her erudition and strength made her be respected by people.
Female writers in Song Dynasty
In the Song Dynasty, women in ordinary families could gain higher social status and life by learning the art. And the rich class paid special attention to women’s cultural literacy and education, so their wives and daughters began to pursue knowledge and talent.
The literati and officialdom in the Song Dynasty had a high level of cultural literacy. The literary works they created deeply reflected women’s desire to get rid of stereotypes and feudal ethics, which had an indelible impact on women’s culture in later generations. Among them are Li Qingzhao, Zhu Shuzhen, Wu Shuji, and Zhang Yuniang.
Li Qingzhao, a poet, was born in a scholar bureaucrat family and was well influenced by literature and art since childhood. In her early works, she showed the feelings of shy girls and the novel world.After, the Northern Song Dynasty perished and her husband died on the way to the south, her later works lament her life experience and feel the impermanence of life.
In the literary works of the Song Dynasty, women showed their unwillingness to tame feudal ethics. They are against “three obedience and four virtues” and pursue the compatibility of wisdom in marriage.
Zhu Shuzhen, a poetess in the Song Dynasty, wrote about a woman’s longing for the freedom of marriage. Zhu Shuzhen regretted her whole life for her parents’ wrong promise of a loveless marriage. In her unhappy days after marriage, she left many famous works with sad, which makes people feel sad.
The economic and cultural development of the Song Dynasty reached its peak in ancient Chinese feudal society, among which the custom of loving to have daughters in the Song Dynasty was closely related to the developed productivity of the Song Dynasty. In the era of the entertainment industry, women got many employment opportunities, and also got a high position in society through art.
The Song Dynasty, as a literary and academic Dynasty, has become a hotbed for the development of women’s literature. A large number of scholars and women’s family members left excellent works. The Song Dynasty not only influenced future generations with splendid culture but also promoted the rise of women and the equality of human beings.