2022 Student Research Conference:
35th Annual Student Research Conference

Women's Status in Traditional China as Illustrated in Chinese Cinema

Alexander J. Otto*, Constance Nowak, Zixian Jiang, Olaf Wei, and Jianxiong Chu
Gregory Richter and Dr. Zhijun Wen, Faculty Mentors

In traditional Chinese culture, women were at the bottom of the social ladder, inferior to their male counterparts. This is displayed in Raise the Red Lantern and Red Sorghum, two films directed by Zhang Yimou. These two films show the oppression women faced under the rules implemented by men in Chinese society. Women often had to rely on men, often marrying them for financial security, as seen in these films. Our research shows this is mainly due to Confucianism, a dominant ideology in traditional Chinese culture. Due to Confucianism and the concept of “Yin and Yang”, women were not typically viewed as equals in China. A perfect example of this can be seen in Raise the Red Lantern. Songlian represents the submissive “Yin” to the rich master’s forceful and affluent “Yang”. We will show how these dominant ideologies helped to shape the role of women in traditional Chinese culture. 


Keywords: Zhang Yimou, Women, Gender Roles, Hierarchy, Confucianism, Chinese Movies, Yin and Yang


Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Session: 302-5
Location: SUB GEO A
Time: 2:15

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