Jiang Qing, Only Confucians Can Make a Place for Modern Women
Introduction and translation by David Ownby
Jiang Qing (b. 1953) is China’s best-known New Confucian thinker, and has devoted most of his career to building a new “political Confucianism” that will respond to China’s current conditions. This Confucianism is political in two ways. First, Jiang has broken with New Confucian thinkers as they have existed in the Chinese diaspora (chiefly Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States) for some decades. These thinkers, perhaps best represented by Tu Wei-ming 杜维明 (b. 1940), have largely accepted the universal claims of modernity, particular in terms of political economy and governance, but have continued to insist on the relevance of Confucianism as a possible communitarian counter-weight to the excessive individualism and consumerism of modern life. Jiang Qing rejects the universal claims of modernity, and insists that the Confucian way is superior. Second, Jiang has invested considerable intellectual energy in the imagination of Confucian institutions that could, theoretically, replace those of the ruling Communist Party. Jiang imagines a tricameral government with one body selected by the people (the House of the Commoners 庶民院), one body made up of a meritocratic, largely Confucian, elite (the House of Confucian Tradition 通儒院), and one body made up of actual descendants of Confucius himself (The House of National Essence 国体院). Jiang’s aim is to construct a legitimacy that will go beyond the petty, grasping utilitarianism of modern democracies and ground authority is something sacred and traditional. It is perhaps the audacious impracticality of Jiang’s propositions that have so far kept him out of serious political trouble.
The text translated here—in fact, it is an interview—is quite different. Here, Jiang attempts to establish the superiority of Confucianism as a guide to life and happiness for Chinese (and presumably other) women who have been beguiled by the false charms of modern life. The “interviewer” is one of Jiang’s assistants, a retired woman named Fan Bixuan 范必萱, who serves up one softball after another, allowing Jiang to hold forth at length. Presumably, Fan’s role is to break up the monotony and to suggest that women are part of Jiang’s conversation.
In any event, most of Jiang’s arguments are concerned not directly with women, but with the denunciation of Confucians as oppressors of women during China’s May Fourth and New Culture Movements (roughly 1915-1930). During this period, iconoclastic radicals condemned Confucianism as the main reason for China’s weakness and backwardness, claiming that Confucian insistence on family hierarchy and ritual had perverted the development of the sort of individualism necessary to survival in the modern world. The place of women in traditional Confucian society served as a glaring example, and modernizers and revolutionaries competed to denounce foot-binding, concubinage, arranged marriage…
Jiang argues, first, that Confucianism had little or nothing to do with these practices, and furthermore that China’s record on this score is no worse than that of other countries, past and present. He is probably right that critics exaggerated somewhat the degree to which Confucianism as a body of thought or doctrine contributed to the ill-treatment of women; the condemnation of Confucianism in early twentieth century China was based on politics, not scholarship. On the other hand, the fact that corsets inflicted lasting harm on Western women in centuries past, or that plastic surgery continues to defigure women today hardly proves that “Confucianism has a place for modern women.” That we are all sinners does not remove or excuse the sin.
When Jiang tries to describe the Confucian “way” for modern women, he falls immediately into crude and conventional stereotypes and arguments. Premodern societies were “natural,” built on families and hierarchies rather than abstractions deduced by rationality. Men and women are by nature different. Men are extraverted, action-oriented; women introverted and passive. Women have their own superiority, most developed in the feminine realms of domesticity and motherhood, where they can be a true helpmate to their husband and children. Of course, some women might be interested in professional careers, but if China had a genuine family policy (like South Korea) which paid husbands enough for wives to remain home, Jiang is sure that this is the path Chinese women would follow.
I confess for my part that I can’t see Jiang’s arguments (or his supercilious tone) appealing to many of the smart, feisty, independent Chinese women I have met over the course of my career, but perhaps he knows his audience better than I do. To me, this interview suggests that Jiang’s creativity at an institutional level does not extend to the level of culture or society. The problem is larger than Jiang; the Mainland New Confucians can, at moments, seem very much like an old boys’ club. The casual misogyny that we find in certain New Confucian texts, in which women are blamed for divorce and other marital problems afflicting contemporary Chinese society, is shocking. In this light, the New Confucians look less like principled cultural conservatives, and more like alt-right groups in the West, some of whom of course see themselves as “principled cultural conservatives” as well. Jiang’s defense of Confucianism would be more convincing if he acknowledged at least some of the gains achieved by modernity.
Confucians did not encourage concubinage; the phenomenon of one man taking several wives was a custom found among all traditional peoples, and has no direct relationship to the basic principles of Confucianism
Fan Bixuan: With the acceleration of the Confucian cultural revival, the Confucian view of women has attracted more and more attention. The social conditions that face contemporary Confucians are different than in traditional times. In traditional social life, women had little position. Men set the tone for society, and most social customs discriminated against and limited women.” This was expressed in well-known sayings like "men are noble and women are base 男尊女卑," "the husband guides the wife 夫为妻纲," "women and petty people are difficult to endure 唯女子与小人难养," "a woman's lack of talent is her virtue 女子无才便是德," and in the system of concubinage, among other things. This directly influences women's affinity for Confucian culture.
With the development of productivity and the advance of human civilization, women have greatly entered social life. Yet in the process of assuming roles in society, modern women have encountered new obstacles and difficulties. Neither Buddhism nor Daoism provides a positive valuation of women as they face these problems. Confucianism emphasizes social ethics, and not only argues that there are differences between men and women and that each has a role to play, but in addition takes seriously the kind of moral transformation suggested by the "three obediences and the four virtues 三从四德.” In this sense, Confucianism has a positive message that protects women. However, the exaggerated negative view of Confucianism propagated since the "May Fourth” period has seriously damaged the feelings of contemporary women toward Confucianism. How can we convince contemporary women, and particularly intellectual women, to identify with and embrace Confucianism as a philosophy of life? How can we bring them to construct a sense of reliance and belonging to Confucianism in the course of the Confucian cultural revival?
Jiang Qing: You provide a comprehensive overview of the question. Since the beginning of the modern period, Confucianism has faced a question that demands a positive resolution and response, and this is precisely the question of women. What is the value of women in Confucian doctrine? What place should be made for women? This kind of question did not exist in traditional society because traditional society was a natural society. This question did not exist in pre-modern Christian, Islamic or Indian civilizations, because they all provided an appropriate place for women based on nature and society, a place that embodied women's value. And in the specific case of Confucianism, this was not an important question either.
However, we should not completely equate Confucian ideas about women with the social existence of women in traditional societies, because some aspects of the social existence of women in traditional societies were the product of social customs, and had no relationship with Confucian principles. For example, we find no textual support for the practice of concubinage in Confucian teachings. In fact, according to classical customs, the nobles could not remarry, and indeed could only marry once, even if their wife died, because remarriage might lead to confusion in the inheritance of political power. But if they couldn't get married, then what happened when a wife died? A nobleman could not remain single just because his wife died, so in ancient society the custom came to be to allow the nobility to have one wife but many "companions." This was the system wherein the nobility took as companions the sisters of the wife. But this system was confined to people with national power, and was not widespread in society. When we look at traditional Confucians like Confucius, Mencius 孟子, Sima Guang 司马光, Zhu Xi 朱熹, Wang Yangming 王阳明, and Liu Zongzhou 刘宗周, we note that none of them had concubines. Liu Zongzhou established a "group of witnesses 证人会" whose charter clearly stated that none of the members could take a concubine without a good reason. This meant that only when the wife was unable to bear children could one take a concubine to continue the family line. But Confucians did not universalize concubinage, arguing that anyone could unconditionally take a concubine, much less encourage concubinage. In fact, the custom of one man taking many wives was a widespread custom among all traditional peoples, and has no direct connection to basic Confucian principles, and when "May Fourth" period intellectuals blamed concubinage on Confucianism, this was unjust.
Intellectuals from the "May Fourth" period demonized the traditional concubine system, although if we employ their critique against the current practice of keeping mistresses it is fully appropriate.
Jiang Qing: Of course, traditional people with money and positions frequently took concubines, especially militarists from the Republican period onward. They were unconstrained by the ritual system and had no taboos, so they took ten or twenty at once. We can't call these militarists Confucians. They took concubines based on social customs, which had nothing to do with basic Confucian principles. You can't blame Confucians for this. As for certain Confucians who did take concubines, such as Kang Youwei 康有為, they were exceptions, and most Confucians did not take concubines. In sum, Confucians advocated the system of one man-one wife, and if they tacitly acknowledged the custom of concubinage at a very limited level, they never gave it positive encouragement.
Of course, in history we find many people who took concubines to fulfill their personal desires and not to perpetuate the bloodline. Republican-period intellectuals were basically criticizing this kind of person, whom Confucians criticized as well. Zhu Xi said: "one man-one wife is a heavenly principle; three palaces and six concubines is man's desire 一夫一妻，天理也；三宫六妾，人欲也." Nonetheless, because of the ancient custom of one wife and many companions, emperors often pushed this to the extreme out of personal desires, taking concubines wherever they went so that there were thousands in the empress's palaces, but this clearly is in conflict with the Confucian view of marriage.
Even if Confucians conditionally acknowledged concubinage, and even if in traditional times the concubine system clearly existed to serve private selfish desires, it was still not like in the criticisms of "May Fourth" intellectuals, who said that this was a system that "ate people," an extreme form of suppression of and cruelty toward women. In traditional times even if a concubine was not the wife, she still had a legal standing, and was seen as a kind of wife. It was not as casual as the custom of keeping mistresses in modern France or in today's China. To take a concubine, one had to guarantee her legal independence, her rightful claims to inheritance, and the legal status of her children. The ritual process had to be followed, meaning that there had to be master of ceremonies for the wedding, an exchange of gifts and a wedding ceremony. Once married, the position of the concubine was less than that of the wife, meaning that household affairs and accounts were managed by the wife, as we see in the title given to the main wife, "lord of the courtyard 院君." If the main wife fell ill, or if something else happened, the position of the concubine could rise. If the main wife died, then the concubine had the opportunity to become the main wife.
I remember Gu Hongming 辜鴻銘 once asking, isn't it common practice in France to have mistresses? When we compare mistresses to concubines, mistresses are too miserable, they are like mistresses 二奶 in today's China, having no legal status, so that if they have children they are only the women's children, not acknowledged by the father. The children of concubines had legal status, and could carry forward the family line. French mistresses look like they have a lot of freedom. They seem to control their own lives, and take up with whomever they want to take up with, marry whomever they want to marry, and if they don't want to marry then they don't. Even if they look very dashing when they're young, when they get old it's hard to imagine how miserable they are.
Chinese concubines were not like this. They could not be abandoned without a proper, legal reason, and when they got old they had legal protections, so that at the very least they could live a normal life, enjoying stability and respect. This is why I say that while "May Fourth" intellectuals demonized the traditional system of concubinage, their attacks are really extremely appropriate when aimed at the practice of keeping mistresses in today's China. These mistresses are really in a sad state. Things are okay when they're young, but once they're old they are cast aside, with at best a bit of cash to compensate for their losses. There is no guarantee for the rest of their lives, to say nothing of obtaining any sort of legal status.
In traditional times fashionable gentry also took concubines. Su Dongpo 苏东坡 was an example. Su Dongpo had deep feelings for his concubine Wang Chaoyun 王朝云, and wrote many poems for her. When he was exiled to Hainan, the concubine followed him to share this difficult period. After she died, Su Dongpo built a Liuru Pavilion at her gravesite to mark her passing, and wrote a couplet: "I am out of step with my times, and only Chaoyun understands me. Alone I pluck the old songs, and in the rainy dusk my affection grows 不合时宜，惟有朝云能识我，独弹古调，每逢暮雨倍思卿." Gu Hongming took a Japanese concubine, and was very good to her, but she died young. He wrote a poem to mourn her passing. “Everyone knows grief, but how many times in a century will one experience such loss? Such pain. The water of the Yangzi flows onward, never to return,此恨人人有，百年能有几？痛哉长江水，同渡不同归." And on the title page of his English translation of the Doctrine of the Mean Zhongyong 中庸, he movingly wrote "I dedicate this work to my departed concubine Yoshida Sadako 吉田贞子." He also bought her a plot in Shanghai's best cemetery, and wrote on the gravestone "A filial Japanese woman." Clearly, Gu's beloved concubine Yoshida Sadako was, from a legal standpoint, his beloved wife. What is sad is that mistresses in China today do not receive such treatment.
Our current system of one man-one wife is in imitation of Christianity, and I suspect that among all world civilizations, only Christianity has legally stipulated the one man-one woman system. Thus we cannot say that systems that allow more than one wife are bad. Look at Islam where one man can take multiple wives. There is less family corruption, and relations between man and wife are much better in Islam than in the West. In the West there are children born out of wedlock and there are mistresses; in China there are mistresses as well.
There's none of this in Muslim countries. It may be that in those countries, only people with status and ability can have multiple wives, so we can't say that they are all corrupt. By "corrupt" I mean not observing proper ritual behavior between men and women, and behaving licentiously. In the West, the legal norm is one man-one women, yet married lives are very corrupt. For example, everyone knows about the affairs of the American president. And the private lives of many politicians and rich people have been revealed as well. I have a friend who returned to China after studying abroad. His thinking has been greatly influenced by the West, and he basically divorces and remarries every two or three years—and sometimes in as little as one year. To my mind this is another system of one man-multiple wives, the only difference is that my friend does this serially and he doesn't violate the marriage law. Of course, there are lots of reasons for this, but one is surely that he gets bored with the old wife and looks for a new one, justifying his actions by saying: "If we don't get along, we'll divorce, and then I'll find a new wife."
Foot-binding grew out of popular practices, and was opposed by Confucians. If we say that foot binding was cruel, then Western practices of "girdling" are even more cruel
Jiang Qing: Other issues, like foot-binding, are even less worth discussing [Jiang is still responding to May Fourth period criticisms of Confucianism]. We find no clear rules in ancient scriptures about foot-binding. Scholars have proven that this custom gradually took shape from Song times forward, and was created by the people themselves. Every era has its aesthetic criteria, and at that time everyone felt that women with small feet were very elegant and refined, and easy to marry off. Men at that time must have felt that, aesthetically, small feet were prettier than big feet, or maybe they had no particular opinion and social customs simply evolved in this manner, so men just followed along. Of course, this placed great pressure on women, so that even poor women in remote villages had to bind their feet.
Still, Confucians were against this custom. For example, a local Confucian scholar-gentry in the Qing dynasty wrote to the court saying that too many women in the surrounding countryside bound their feet and that this was inhumane. He hoped that the state would pass laws forbidding the practice, and the state did issue an order forbidding foot-binding, but the force of custom was too great and the order made no difference.
In this context, Gu Hongming noted that if foot-binding is cruel, the Western practice of girdling or corseting is even worse. At the time [i.e., the 19th century] it was fashionable in France for women to be thin-waisted, so from a very young age they bound their waist, so that it remained very thin even after they grew up. Of course this created a deformity, and robbed women of their ability to reproduce. Thus there is absolutely no relationship between Confucianism and foot-binding, which was imposed instead by social trends as a traditional custom.
Modern people no longer bind their feet or cinch their waists, but they redo their breasts, or their noses, through plastic surgery. Perfectly normal people inject silicone here, carve off the odd bit there, which has produced many disastrous outcomes. The plastic surgery business is booming, but they are not aiming for traditional good looks. Instead these surgeons show people pictures of foreigners and say "your nose is no good," "your cheekbones are no good," "your eyes are no good." European-style eyes and eyelids are all the rage, so with a little suction, they hollow out the eye sockets, and with a flick of the knife the eyelids open up. This kind of so-called "cosmetic surgery" is also cruel to the body, yet our new-style intellectuals do not oppose it. Why not? They believe that this is a question of aesthetics or fashion, and that women have freedom over their bodies, thus morality is not an issue. If that's the case, and it's all a question of aesthetics and fashion, then on what basis do they criticize foot binding? And all the more blame it on Confucians?
The basic aim of Confucian ritual teachings is to provide a just and reasonable place for women based on their natural [i.e., gender] and social character
Jiang Qing: There are also questions of social class, where once again we find the "May Fourth" intellectuals launching their most serious criticisms of Confucianism, arguing that Confucianism fashioned a society in which women were completely oppressed by the "three bonds and five constants 三纲五常,"  and other similar ritual practices. They argue further that such constraints weighed heavily on women, so that they lost their humanity, their freedom, their personality. In other words, in Confucian society, women were not people, and women's lives were hell.
In matter of fact, there are extreme cases in any period, and if you want to look for extreme cases over this very long period of time, then you will no doubt find them. Lu Xun's words magnify these extreme cases: China's two millennia of ritual teachings served to "eat people." In other words, during these two thousand years the Chinese people suffered cruelly, and women suffered the most of all.
We argue that in the long course of history in which, in extreme cases, women were oppressed, this oppression occurred in the West as well as in China, in traditional times and in the present day. This is hard to avoid. Yet the basic objective of Confucian ritual teachings is to make a proper, reasonable place for women according to her gender nature and her social nature, and hence provide her with her own life meaning and existential value. This is in the spirit of "making distinctions" as prescribed by "ritual," and is the very "way of women." This "ritual" spirit is conceived for women, not for universal application.
For example, one point that "May Fourth" intellectuals criticized harshly was the idea that "the husband guides the wife." In their eyes, this meant that the husband was the master of the household, and the wife had to obey the husband in all things. She had no right to speak in the household and hence no power of decision. She had no position and was no better than a slave. In matter of fact the meaning of "guidance," whether in abstract terms or in terms of social practice, is far from this.
In traditional times families were very big; in some cases, it was like a small society. It was like this at the beginning of the Republican period, when one family could have dozens of people. In Han Yu's 韩愈 essays we note that he frequently complains of being poor, which meant that he had no choice to but work as a secretary to an official, because he had to find a way to support his family of 50 or 60 people. And he did not take concubines, so his family was probably not overly large. In this kind of big family, there had to be a central person who would take command naturally, otherwise the family would not be manageable. Democracy only works with strangers, because it is created by choices other than natural rationality.
For example, when we organize ourselves into a group, everyone raises their hand to vote for a leader, whether we call him president, or premier, or leader, or manager—in any event the vote is the product of unnatural [i.e., man-made] rationality. But a family is different. A family is a product of bloodlines, and forms naturally; it is not the result of rational election. A family, especially a big, traditional family, requires a leader. This leader must have both authority and responsibility. What is authority? Authority means that the leader is in charge of the family's food, livelihood, living situation, order, disputes, etc. So authority is not necessarily something people desire; if you have the authority you must also exercise responsibility. Han Yu didn't want to work as a secretary, but life forced this upon him and he had no choice but to go. This was his responsibility, and if he didn't go, then several dozen people would have had no food to eat. For this reason, the meaning of "the husband guides the wife" means that a family needs someone who will have overall responsibility, and that if there are family problems, the "guide" will take responsibility. The "guide" is thus the family leader and bearer of responsibility—the husband.
Of course, this doesn't mean that women had no purpose in traditional families, rather that they did not bear primary responsibility for sustaining the family. For example, if the family was out of food, family members didn't seek out the wife, but rather looked for the husband, and if the husband could not solve the problem, then the wife would assist him to take responsibility. In the villages, men went to work in the field, and women took care of the housework, but sometimes the women would join the men in the fields to help out. Still, most of the heavy agricultural labor and other chores were the responsibility of the husband. In traditional Confucian society, women also had another special responsibility, which was that of the basic education of the children.
Taking care of and nourishing children is women's social role and gender nature. Nothing is more natural than for women to take care of children. Everyone knows that in a family, paternal love and maternal love are not the same. From the time of their birth, children are nurtured and taken care of by their mother, and if they have something on their mind it is to their mothers that they want to say it, in the same way that mothers are naturally oriented toward giving care to their children.
Many sages and worthies in traditional times in China were raised by their mother after the death of their father. This was the case of Confucius, Mencius, Ouyang Xiu 欧阳修, and Gu Yanwu 顾炎武, among others. Moreover, traditional family management and the handling of family affairs was the responsibility of the wife. So if the husband had to bring home the bacon, family accounts were the wives' responsibility. This division of labor was not established by law, but rather evolved naturally. So when we say that "the husband guides the wife," we mean that the husband must assume the chief responsibilities for the family, and not that he is the sole authority in the family who must oppress his wife. In fact, in traditional families, the wife was the general manager of the family, and had considerable power and authority, especially in financial matters.
Moreover, women's power in the family increased with age, and an old grandmother possessed considerable power and status, to the point that her son would not dare oppose her. One example is Grandmother Jia in the Dream of the Red Chambers. For this reason, what we observe in traditional families is not like the distorted version presented to us by "May Fourth" intellectuals. In traditional marriages and families, we do not find the phenomenon of universal cruelty toward and oppression of women.
In traditional marriages, the source of women's feelings of happiness was not the lack of control over her fate, because men had no such control either
Fan Bixuan: In traditional marriages, most of which were accomplished "on order of the parents and with the help of a matchmaker 父母之命，媒妁之言," women had little choice over whom they married. Might this have influenced the women's happiness once married?
Jiang Qing: On the question of the happiness of women in traditional marriages, "May Fourth" intellectuals criticized these marriages because they were arranged, which meant that there was no happiness for the women. Actually, if the marriage was really conducted in proper ritual terms, both the man and the woman would have to go through a lengthy procedure, and the woman's opinion was not completely ignored. Every step of the process was carried out with care, and if a step went wrong, then the marriage did not happen. There were only a few very poor families who married off their daughters even before they were born, after which they would be brought up in their future husband's family. In traditional married families, the happiness of the woman was not a product of her degree of control over her fate, since the man had no such control either.
Many sources tell us that the happiness of women in olden times was not worse than that in modern free marriages. There is a new term now—"the marriage-dodging elite 闪婚族"—that describes my friend who gets divorced every year. Are the women in these marriages happy? What if a woman is married to a university professor, and suddenly a female doctoral candidate takes a liking to him, and the professor is no longer satisfied with his wife? Well if you're not satisfied, then you get divorced, right? It's simple. But at the beginning the woman had decided to marry the professor. So is the power of decision a guarantee of happiness? Obviously not.
Now there are some women who, even though they succeeded in finding a capable husband, are always uneasy, because they know that a third party may intervene at any time, and that once the husband has a change of heart, the marriage is over. By way of contrast, traditional marriages were much more stable. Divorce could not be had on demand, unlike now when divorce requires no reason, when you give up as soon as you don't get along. Everyone knows the traditional "seven justifications for divorce 七出," and if these conditions weren't met then there was no divorce. (Fan adds: "There were also the "three conditions precluding divorce 三不去” which protected the women). Right! Not getting along was not a reason.
I have a friend—I know his wife too, she's an outstanding high school teacher. One day he called me out of the blue to tell me he'd just remarried. I thought this was strange and imagined that there must have been some kind of problem. Later when we met he said "only now have I understood what marriage means." Which meant that his current wife was better than his past wife. I thought, well, sure, the former wife is twenty years older. She one worked hard to raise your children and now she's old. Now the new wife is young and pretty, so what else are you going to say? Unbelievable, this is a so-called high-level intellectual saying "only now do I understand what marriage is."
Traditional marriages were happier [than modern marriages] because in addition to legal protection, there was also the protection of social customs
Jiang Qing: The conditions demanded for granting a divorce in traditional ritual laws constituted a high barrier, and thus served as a kind of protection for women. Now people decide on their own marriages, and divorce is free. There are no conditions restricting all of this, and the result is a tragedy for the weaker member of the couple. For example, the fact that women age easily is a weak spot, and without legal protection, can result in the break-up of the family. Currently there are two ways to break up a family, one is divorce, and the other is taking a mistress. The man doesn't bring the mistress home, but if his family finds out he doesn't care, even if the law is on the side of the wife and not the mistress. For this reason, when we compare women's happiness in traditional and modern families, we need to reduce by quite a bit the happiness identified by the "May Fourth" crowd as being associated with arranging one's own marriage.
Many things that occurred in the early Republican period, which was a period of transition between two types of marriage systems, were often quite strange. Cases like Lu Xun's wife, Zhu An 朱安, were very few. Zhu An was someone who suffered from the new style of marriage, not from the traditional style of marriage. Because had there not been new style intellectuals who refused traditional marriage, then she should have been happy. Zhu An took good care of Lu Xun's parents as well as producing heirs to perpetuate the family line, and thus should have been very happy. Thus we cannot say that Zhu Ann's tragedy was the tragedy of traditional marriage. For example, Hu Shi 胡適 also had a traditional marriage, but his wife was very happy. He was very respectful of his wife, and even took her with him to the United States when serving as ambassador. You can see how happy she was.
Thus I feel that there was more happiness in traditional marriages than in modern marriages, because in addition to the legal protection, traditional society also added the protection of customs. Moreover, traditional women had many types of happiness; their happiness was not built uniquely on the husband, and because the husband had the husband's propriety and the wife the wife's propriety, much of the traditional wife's happiness was built on the basis of this ritual life.
For example, filially serving her in-laws, raising the children with her husband, managing the family, protecting the family name, were all part of the woman's role, and she could feel great happiness in accomplishing these various tasks. If a woman could raise an outstanding child who gained the broad praise of society, then how happy she must have been! In supporting her husband, if the woman did her utmost morally, in daily life, to support her husband professionally, thus nurturing his sense of accomplishment, then she would feel much happiness as well. In olden times many women did this very well; we find many representative examples in the Biographies of Virtuous Women 列女传, women who understand principle, who help their husbands with ideas concerning politics or society, who encourage their husband to maintain high standards of performance and personality.
All of the above illustrates that Confucians provide a reasonable place for women according to their gender nature and their social nature, allowing them to obtain their own life meaning and existential value according to the "way of women 妇道" and to "women's rites 妇礼.”
Marriage is not sustained by man's natural character, but rather through religion, morality, duty and responsibility
Jiang Qing: Of course, that was traditional society. Things have changed with modern society. Are Confucian views of women obsolete? I don't think so. Because of the influence of the West, marriages throughout the world, with the exception of Islam, are facing a huge crisis. At present the divorce rate in China is the highest in the world. Things like mistresses, one-night stands, wife-swapping, trial marriages, and gay marriage (de facto gay marriage) are constantly challenging the normal marriage system. The family is the basic building block of social life, and if there are no cultural values to sustain the family, meaning that family one day falls apart, then society will fall apart too. In this situation, I feel that the Confucian views of women and of marriage should be strengthened.
At present, the Chinese family still preserves the faint outlines of a few traditional elements. For example, in the education of children, we note that the majority of those taking their children to extra classes are women. Women's' nature makes them even more concerned with children's education, and this is her family responsibility as a mother, as well as her authority in managing the family. Moreover, women run the finances of most households, and very few women say they don't handle the money, that they turn it over to their husband. In addition, Confucians noted that "the husband is just and the wife is loyal 夫义妇贞." By "loyal" he meant “upright,” so "the husband is just and the wife is loyal" means that the husband has his role and the wife has her role. For example, the husband should be "loyal" to the household, as should the wife. I think that no wife gets married hoping that the family will be unstable; she hopes to be loyal to the family. Of course, the man has the same demands, and also demands that the wife be "loyal" to the family.
But if we hope to convince people of these ideas, there is still work to do. Due to the excessively negative propaganda of the "May Fourth" intellectuals, people have greatly misunderstood the Confucian view of women and marriage. Once modern people hear someone talking about responsibility in the context of married life then get annoyed; all they care about are rights and freedom. If you bring up responsibility and duty, they are unhappy, and feel that they have been oppressed. But there is no doubt that marriage is sustained by responsibility and duty. In fact, looking at it on the basis of common sense and experience, once a couple is married, and especially after they have children, marriage is sustained precisely by responsibility and duty. Of course, in China feelings are important, so that if marriage is based on freedom, rights, and the sexual love that the Marxists emphasize, then once children are born, the marriage is in crisis.
Marriage is not sustained by man's nature (or natural instincts), but rather by religion, morality, duty and responsibility. Only by accepting these conditions will both parties to the marriage feel constrained. For example, is it not right to use morality, propriety, and public opinion to keep men from taking mistresses and destroying families? In the West, Catholic countries still consider the stability of marriage the major priority in their church work. And Protestant countries, such as the United States, with the rise of evangelical churches, have also felt the crisis of the decline of the family, and emphasize a return to a traditional view of marriage. As a result, after George W. Bush was elected, he turned his back on the American principle of division between church and state and for the first time allocated money for church organizations to use to maintain traditional family values. In China, we clearly cannot rely on Christianity, but instead should rely on Confucianism to maintain traditional family values.
Confucians view the relationship between husband and wife as a concrete and special form of social relations, and for this reason, husband and wife each has different rights and responsibilities
Fan Bixuan: What you say is true, and answers many questions that I have been thinking about over the years. Thank you. But are the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives abstractions? When we look at women, and as their social nature becomes fully developed, what sort of value system should we build to raise their rational self-image?
Jiang Qing: I know what you mean. Many people ask me this question, and it is clearly something that women have to resolve for themselves. They need to fight for their own sense of consciousness, meaning, happiness, achievement, and belonging.
In an ideal Confucian society, there are differences between men and women, between husband and wife. Although Confucians talk about universal "benevolence 仁" and "conscience 良知," this is not like Western rationalism, and does not produce abstract values that transcend concrete social relationships. For instance, men and women have particular sexual natures, and husbands and wives have particular family natures, but Western rationalism removes these natural and social attributes, and, taking an abstracted notion of universal equality as a theoretical base, talks about the rights of universal, abstract people. They ignore the Confucian observation that there are differences between men and women, husbands and wives, arguing that in their natural and social attributes, men and women, and husbands and wives, are equal, possessing the same rights and freedoms.
But Confucians are not like this. Confucians start from concrete natural and social attributes, and view husbands and wives as concrete and particular instances of social relations, and for this reason believe that husbands and wives have different rights and responsibilities. This means that in the Confucian discourse on men and women, husbands and wives, men have men's principle, and women have women's principle, husbands have husbands' principle, and wives have wives' principle. This "principle" is not abstract or universal, but instead refers to concrete and particular status. The view of marriage in the eyes of Western reason is that men and women should respect the same principle, meaning that men and women have legal rights and duties, while the Confucian view of marriage argues that men follow the men's principle and women the women's principle. Men, women, husbands and wives should all live according to their different status, in accord with their own social relations.
Actually, in real social life we do not see abstract people. All we see are men and women, who, after marriage, are husbands and wives. Among husbands and wives, some are younger and some are older, some have children and some don't. These are not the same concrete particular people, nor are they the same abstract universalized people. Consequently, in the context of the feelings of accomplishment and belonging that you mentioned, Confucians do not confer universal standards and abstract values that all men, women, husbands and wives can follow, but rather confer concrete standards and individualized values appropriate to particular men and women, husbands and wives. For example, husbands should be just, and women loyal. Men follow the code for men, women the code for women.
Thus in family and social life, and in political life, the functions of men and women, husbands and wives, as well as their feelings of accomplishment and belonging are not the same. For this reason, Confucians do not put forth universal, abstract standards demanding that men and women be seen as equal or receive equal treatment. In today's Western society, and in the Chinese society influenced by the West, there is only one standard for men and women. In politics, men can be president, and so can women, which is the greatest career accomplishment. In the economy, a man can be CEO, and a woman can be CEO, and careers and social customs are all like this, demanding that men and women be viewed as equal. In this way, men and women all receive the same sense of accomplishment and belonging.
Yet I feel that this is wrong. It goes against the Confucian principle that "there are differences between men and women 男女有别," because while men and women do share some common values, such as "benevolence" or "filial piety 孝," nonetheless in terms of men and women's natural gender and social affinities, their senses of accomplishment and belonging are definitely not the same.
Being a good daughter, a good mother and a good wife is the natural gender character of women and a necessary demand of family life, and is the basic value support for judging the meaning of life of Chinese women
Fan Bixuan: What I meant by the question I just asked is: how are today's women, and particularly today's intellectual women, meant to find a sense of belonging and support for their own values within Confucian teachings? In other words, how can they find a meaning and purpose in life within the values expressed by Confucian teachings? I'm not talking now about looking for inspiration within Confucianism, but rather support. Today's women are facing just such a question, and in the search for life beliefs feel a bit lost.
Jiang Qing: Current society is based on careers, so we have intellectual women and women with careers. In the past, women basically did not participate in public life. Of course some did, like when empress dowagers and empresses interfered in court life, as well as women who ruled as emperor, but these were exceptions, and do not represent the social mainstream. Today's intellectual women's sense of belonging and attachment should be multi-faceted, just as the design of Confucian "rituals" is multi-faceted. As Gu Hongming said: if you are to be daughter, then be a good daughter, if you are to be a mother then be a good mother, if you are to be a wife then be a good wife. Society has changed, and women can obtain all sorts of knowledge and engage in all sorts of careers, and thus can participate in social life. Consequently, we should add a sentence [to Gu Hongming's formula]: if women are to be professionals then they should be good professionals.
The traditional Confucian view of "women literati 女士" was "a women who nonetheless participated in public life" 女子而有士行者. Thus when modern women participate in public life, this is a modern expression of participation that does not betray the basic spirit of Confucianism. Concretely speaking, if a women is filial to her parents and in-laws, so that her praise extends to future generations, then this is being a good daughter. If a woman brings up her children well, so that they become healthy adults with good character and education, then she has been a good mother. If she ably performs the role assigned to her, and sustains a good home life, avoiding shame throughout her life, then she is a good wife. These are three roles that women assume and which characterize traditional as well as modern society, or to put it in your terms, three expressions of value carried over from traditional society and still existing today. If these three are done correctly, then she can fulfill herself without shame, and thus obtain the woman's sense of accomplishment and belonging of which you spoke. Then and only then can she think about seeking accomplishments in modern social life, or becoming a successful career woman.
Nonetheless, being a good daughter, a good mother, and a good wife are the necessary demands of her gender nature and her family nature, and constitute the basic sense of value in the life of a Chinese woman. Hence this is also where Chinese women find their basic sense of accomplishment and belonging. As for her participation in public life or her role as a successful career woman, these naturally are not where she will find her basic sense of accomplishment and belonging. Having a successful career is at most a secondary demand of a woman who participates in public life.
A woman's life meaning and existential value cannot reside in an exterior career, to say nothing of locating her sense of accomplishment and belonging in career success, which is always hit or miss. In other words, an intellectual or career woman's professional success only has meaning to the degree that it does not come at the expense of the three womanly roles mentioned above. Of course if you are a full-time wife and don't work outside the home, then being a good daughter, a good mother, and a good wife are enough. Such women can completely fulfill their purpose in life and their existential value, and achieve a sufficient sense of accomplishment and belonging in that way, which means achieving the valuation that women have always had.
But this is hard to do in today's society, and stay-at-home wives are fewer and fewer. And given the influence of Western egalitarianism on Chinese women, many women unconsciously have come to view their professional accomplishments in public life as constituting the basis of their sense of values, accomplishment, and belonging, to the point of seeing these as the very basis of their life meaning and existential value. In so doing, they turn their back on women's gender and family affinities, and women are no longer women, being no longer any different from men. For this reason, Western gender egalitarianism in fact asks that women define themselves and act according to men's standards, and no longer allows women to act in accordance with women's standards, because in today's world, career and professional accomplishments are defined according the men's standards. For example, to be a great politician is defined in terms of men's standards.
Although modern Confucians do not deny women's sense of career and professional accomplishment, they do not agree that career and professional accomplishments are the sole goal or the basic value of a woman's life. Even less do they agree that other roles and positions for women constructed on the basis of their gender or family affinities are worthless. At present some intellectual women emphasize career and professional achievements, ignoring or down-playing the rest. This Confucians do not approve. Still, if today we ask women to cling to traditional roles constructed on the basis of gender and family affinities, and ignore the fact that career and professional success adds to women's sense of accomplishment and value, then we're perhaps being too resistant to change, because at present we cannot ask all women to return to the family, and make the family the center of their lives.
If in the future Chinese society develops in a more balanced manner, like in South Korea, where men's wages are sufficiently high to maintain family life with little problem, so that women can choose not to work, and devote themselves wholeheartedly to the management of the family, then the value of women can completely express itself through the three roles mentioned above. But we are not to that point yet, because in China the system of distribution is not rational, which forces women to work to meet the expenses of family life. Even in the case of a small family and a young couple, if the woman doesn't work, the man's wages are insufficient to support the family. You say that women really want to work outside the home? I think that according to their basic nature they don't want to, it's just that they don't have a choice, If we designed a more reasonable system where men earned higher wages and thus could support the entire family, and if at the same time we designed a system that could protect women, so that for example according to law, half of the man's wages were allocated to women through the state distribution system, then men would have no reason to feel that it was completely up to them to support the family, and they would not look down on women.
If we had this sort of systemic arrangement that could guarantee women's ability to fulfill their own natural gender and family affinities, allowing women to receive the respect and the sense of accomplishment that they deserve in family life, what would be wrong with that? Now in the cities, pre-school age children are almost all looked after by their grandparents, since the parents have no time to take care of them outside of Saturday and Sunday. If the grandparents are not available, then they have to hire a nanny, but nannies don't take care of education, to say nothing of encouraging the development of family feelings. Now many mothers would prefer to take care of their own children, but given the obstacle posed by family finances, they drop the idea. Thus our current wage allocation system is not reasonable, and should be reformed.
That Chinese women seem to feel less affinity for Confucianism than for Buddhism is a question that Confucians must take seriously and resolve in the course of the current Confucian renaissance.
Fan Bixuan: I have another question, which is: how to increase the attractiveness of Confucianism for women? For example, Buddhism claims to provide a feeling of safety and intimacy to women who become Buddhists. This kind of intimacy seems to be largely missing in Confucianism, and there seems to exist a certain exclusion of or discrimination against women in Confucianism. I think that Confucianism should look for a solution to this problem in its original teachings, and devise a set of theories appropriate to modern women who wish to cultivate themselves and manage their families. This would allow women to find self-confidence in Confucianism. In Buddhist scriptures, we can locate here and there passages that express a concern for women. Of course, some of these are no more than a kind of psychological comfort, but they still express a Buddhist concern and empathy for women.
Jiang Qing: I know. What you are talking about is a question of life or death of the soul. It's not like the various questions concerning society and the family that we've just been talking about. We've been talking about the family, society, and politics, but what you're worried about here is an otherworldly matter. To put it in Buddhist technical terms, Confucianism deals with worldly matters, which is what we've been talking about to this point. Buddhism transcends worldly affairs, as well as people's natural gender and social affinities to look squarely at the meaning of life, and views all forms of life as equal, which of course includes men and women as well. In fact, the question you raised exists for men as well. Once they believe in Buddhism, then distinctions between men and women no longer exist, there are no more family roles or social mobility. The five ethical relationships no longer exist, nor do this-worldly ethical standards or value standards. Everything becomes selflessness and co-arising as if you're floating in a dream. Everything is empty. The Buddhist Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra both explain this.
Nonetheless, even if Confucianism concentrates on this-worldly affairs, it still has its transcendent dimension. On questions concerning the existence of god, the eternal nature of the soul, and the meaning of life, Confucianism has its own points of view, and from a religious standpoint, Confucianism can be the Confucian faith. Still, Confucianism's original point of departure is not like Buddhism, and did not set out to solve the problem of man's release from the cycle of life and death, but instead focused on solving problems of the meaning of life that went beyond questions of belief. Since the Buddha’s original goal was to break through the cycle of life and death, the vast numbers of Buddhist writings that followed in his wake continued to devote a great deal of time to this question.
By contrast, Confucius created his teachings so as to foster a sincere faith that heaven would realize man's heavenly dictated nature, and the transcendent meaning and sacred value of this nature. As for the question of whether the soul was immortal, when we read the Book of Poetry or the Book of Rites we find an answer. Confucians also believed that the soul was immortal, just as the Buddhists did, but Confucians had no notion of reincarnation. The idea that the soul is eternal is the basic characteristic of all religions, and Confucianism is no exception. But different religions have different teachings about this. Buddhism has its elaborate theory of reincarnation, and Christianity has its theories about the final judgement. Confucianism rejects both reincarnation and the final judgement, and believes that the soul of a good man ascends to heaven "to be close to God" and enjoy heavenly blessings. The soul of an evil man becomes an evil spirit and cannot ascend to heaven, but rather stays on earth to harm people.
In addition, Confucianism accords much importance to ritual, especially funeral rituals. The precondition of offering sacrifices to the gods is that the soul must be eternal, as is life. If the soul perishes, then ritual offerings have no meaning, because the point of ritual offerings is to facilitate the movement of the soul from the heavens to the human world where it can partake of the ritual offerings.
In traditional Chinese Confucianism, both men and women took ritual occasions very seriously. These occasions enabled them to communicate with the spirit world, thus evidencing the eternal nature of life. In the Book of Poetry, especially the Ernan 二南 section, there are many women who participated in ritual. Indeed, women were entrusted with the preparation of many rituals, which they treated with reverence and engaged in actively. Collecting ritual plants, purification, and arrangement of ritual instruments were all tasks that were allocated to women.
You ask about women's ultimate resting place. My answer is that: while living, they use rituals to rejoin the souls of their ancestors, and after they die, their eternal soul ascends to heaven to be with the gods. As long as you do not engage in evil affairs, your soul can receive eternal blessings in heaven. This doesn't mean that once the soul is in heaven there's nothing more to do. The soul of a good person has to take care of his or her sons and grandsons. This is true for both men and women; there is no difference. That said, we must admit that Confucian scholars after the Han period did not accord enough importance to belief in the eternal soul, which leads many people to feel that Confucianism is lacking on this question when compared to Buddhism, and thus fails to provide the necessary comfort to those concerned with questions of life and death. This is why you feel that Confucianism is less attractive than Buddhism. This is precisely a question that the contemporary Confucian revival in China must address and resolve.
Why is it that the things you feel in Buddhism, you feel less in Confucianism? In part this is a lack in Confucianism, because Confucianism is the learning of an elite, mainly concerned with questions of good governance, so that it accorded less attention to such questions. Even if we do find materials in Confucianism to address such questions, it is not where the focus has been, and this is the fault of Confucianism, which must be elevated and improved. From another perspective, women are less interested than men when it comes to involving themselves in social or political life, and for those who are interested in this side of life, Buddhism offers relatively little, since it does not address questions of politics or ritual.
Song-Ming Confucians talked about the nature of the heart-mind 心性, which they drew from Buddhism and gave their writings a little Buddhist feeling, but Han Confucianism does not feel at all like Buddhism because Han Confucians talked about good government. Even if life and death questions were a concern for Han Confucians, it was not their primary concern, which was how to govern the country. So they had no feeling for Buddhism. From another angle, women were relatively uninterested in politics, society, ritual, etc., and even if in modern times there are some women who are interested in society and politics, they remain a minority, and most women are by nature creatures of feeling, introverted, while men by nature are rational and extraverted. For this reason, Buddhism can readily move women, because it is unconcerned with society and politics, and is focused on questions of life or death. Life and death questions are closest to questions of one's own life, and can incite feelings of empathy, which is why they affect women and their feelings, leading them to believe that Buddhism is attractive.
The questions you ask about the end of life or about release from life are perhaps important for introspective, sensitive women, but are less so for men. For example, Liang Shuming 梁漱溟 was a Buddhist until the end of his life, but his principle concerns were about politics and government, the reconstruction of China and of China's villages. He achieved liberation in these political and social activities, which gave him a sense of belonging and accomplishment, thus fulfilling his life's meaning and his existential value. Since women are by nature sensitive and introverted, most of them will not be oriented toward exterior social and political activities and will not search for life's liberation of meaning therein.
Buddhism is a relatively closed, self-referential belief system, and provides an answer to the life questions that concern women. Hence you feel that Buddhism is attractive, because you yourself are one of those sensitive, introspective women looking for answers to concerns about release from your own life, about finding a place, about belonging. If you weren't worried about these questions, and instead were worried about the reconstruction of the Chinese political system, then you wouldn't find a home in Buddhism, you wouldn't find it attractive, because Buddhism has no resources [to address such questions]. Instead, you would find your home in Confucianism, which would seem attractive, because Confucianism is a belief system that deals with affairs of government.
It is urgent that we transform women through education based on model women and through the molding of women's character
Fan Bixuan: I have also been thinking about the question of women's education. I feel that many contemporary questions in society, many bad phenomena, some come from women and some from men. Take for example the question of mistresses. Women who are willing to be mistresses have a problem with their values. There are also women who have forgotten that they are women, have forgotten their own natural affinities. They devote themselves entirely to their careers, and work until they are in their 30s before they realize that they should have a family, that they should get married and have children. Then either they don't get married or by the time they are married they are too old to have children, and when they realize this they are devastated. What I am thinking about now is how Confucianism should teach modern women so that they maintain traditional moral standards and also meet the challenges of modern social life.
Jiang Qing: This has nothing to do with Buddhism, but rather with Confucianism. Confucianism dominated education in ancient times, and from the time of their birth, women were naturally educated in the culture of the larger society. Women didn't necessarily go to school, they had no need to be like the boys who read the classics and took the exams. But when they were young, they would learn from their mothers and grandmothers how to be a good girl, which means how to be a good woman. This education was carried out through daily life. This is no longer the case. Now our daily life is completely Westernized, and family education has declined. The idea is that this would be replaced by education in the schools, but what is taught in the schools are Western values and Western views of women, in other words it teaches girls how to grow up independent and free.
Faced with this situation, what we need to do is to have the family carry out Confucian preschool education before the girls go to school. Of course, we also need for educational groups outside of the family to take up this educational work, so that there are classes and lectures on the topic. (Fan: Zhu Xi in his Elementary LearningXiaoxue 小学 also said that 14-year old girls should learn to do something). Right, because at the present Confucianism is weak, not like the Catholics who have believers organized into women's leagues, that devote themselves to the education of girls in Catholic families. If Confucians had this sort of women's league, then we could devote ourselves to the work of educating women, and could use the examples of modern women to mould the female personality.
China currently has the Women's Association 妇联, but this is basically a political organization, and they don't engage in this kind of thing. Of course, things are a little better now, and we're starting to propagate Confucian values, for example promoting filial piety and respect for the elderly. This return of Confucian values will proceed slowly, since at present the Confucian revival is just beginning and remains fragile. There's a great resistance to carrying out [Confucian] education. I have observed that Catholicism currently pays attention to two questions: education and marriage. The Catholic church pours its energy into education, and builds elementary schools and middle schools all over the place. Even in Protestant countries like the US, most [private?] schools are Catholic. This is because Catholicism believes that education is extremely important, so that if they have primary and secondary schools, they can promote Catholic values in these schools, and use these Catholic values to transform young men and women.
Consequently, as we today revive Confucian values, books like Biographies of Virtuous Women, Confucian teachings designed for women, remain important teaching materials that can resolve the problem of educating women in modern society. Of course, to do this will require that we make progress in correcting the extreme demonization of Confucian thought of the "May Fourth" period.
 For a concise introduction to Jiang’s ideas, see Jiang Qing and Daniel A. Bell, “A Confucian Constitution for China,” The New York Times, July 11, 2012, available online at https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/opinion/a-confucian-constitution-in-china.html. For a more detailed study, see Jiang Qing, A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape its Political Future, Daniel A. Bell and Ruiping Fan, eds., (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012).
 See for example Zeng Yi 曾亦 and Guo Xiaodong 郭晓东, eds., What is Universal? Whose Values? 何谓普世？谁的价值? (Shanghai: Huadong shifan daxue chubanshe, 2013), a transcript of the oral proceedings of a conference organized by Mainland New Confucians in Shanghai in November 2011. Jiang Qing was not in attendance.
 This is a deformation of a quote from the Confucian Analects, based on a confusion between two characters: 汝 an archaic character meaning "you" and 女, the character meaning women. Thus while Confucius meant "you and petty people are hard to take," directing his remark at a particular disciple, over time the object of his remark was taken to be "women". See http://baike.baidu.com/view/1408365.htm.
 The "three obediences" were to the father (as a daughter), to the husband (as a wife), and to the sons (as a widow). The "four virtues" included proper womanly morality, speech, appearance, and work ethic.
 The May Fourth period, from roughly 1915-1930, is often identified as “China’s Enlightenment,” an iconoclastic moment when many intellectuals and young people broke definitively with Confucianism, which they blamed for Chinese weakness and backwardness. Throughout this interview, quotes are added to the expression “May Fourth,” signaling Confucian skepticism as to the validity of the criticisms of Confucianism advanced at the time.
 Jiang uses the term 诸侯, which refers to the elite of the pre-dynastic period.
 Mencius, or Mengzi 孟子 (372-289), was the best known Confucian after Confucius himself.
 Sima Guang 司马光 (1019-1086) was a famous Song dynasty Confucian scholar.
 Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) was a Song dynasty scholar famed for having created Neoconfucianism.
 Wang Yangming 王阳明 (1427-1529) was a famous Ming Confucian who reacted against certain currents in Neoconfucian thought as formulated by Zhu Xi.
 Liu Zongzhou 刘宗周 (1578-1645) was a famous Ming Confucian who criticized Wang Yangming's attacks on Zhu Xi's Neoconfucianism.
 Kang Youwei 康有為 (1858-1927) was a Qing dynasty Confucian scholar and modernizing reformer most often identified with the "Hundred Days' Reform" of 1898.
 This is a reference to Lu Xun’s 魯迅 famous story, “Diary of a Madman 狂人日記,” first published in 1918, in which Lu, modern China’s most famous writer, compared the conformism of traditional Confucian society to cannibalism.
 Gu Hongming 辜鴻銘 (1857-1928), was from Penang, now part of Malaysia, and educated in Scotland. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, he moved to China where he served in various posts and came to be strongly identified with the imperial regime.
 Su Dongpo 苏东坡, or Su Shi 苏轼 (1037-1101) was a famous Song dynasty poet.
 The "three bonds" refer to the service that a minister owes to his lord, a son owes to his father, and a wife owes to her husband." The "five constants" refer to the five basic ethical principles regulating human life through proper hierarchy. For women, the important one is that "there is a difference between husband and wife."
 Han Yu 韩愈 (768-824) was a well-known Tang dynasty Confucian.
 Ouyang Xiu 欧阳修 (1007-72) was a famous Song dynasty Confucian scholar.
 Gu Yanwu 顾炎武 (1613-1668) was a famous Ming dynasty Confucian scholar.
 The Dream of the Red Chambers, or Hongloumeng 红楼梦, written by Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹 (1617-1763) is perhaps traditional China's finest novel.
 The seven justifications for divorce (七出)included: 1. Failure of the wife to obey the husband's parents; 2. Failure of the wife to produce a son; 3. Adultery; 4. Excessive jealousy on the part of the wife; 5. Serious illness (preventing, for example, performance of necessary rituals); 6. Excessive talkativeness; and 7. Theft.
 The three conditions precluding divorce (三不去) included: 1. When the woman did not have a parental home to return to; 2. When the woman had mourned the death of her in-laws for three years; and 3. When the woman married a poor man who subsequently became rich.
 Zhu An 朱安 (1878-1947) was married to Lu Xun in a traditional, arranged marriage. Lu Xun divorced her in protest of such practices.
 Hu Shi 胡適 (1891-1962) was a major intellectual during the May Fourth Period and later, and is seen as one of the major figures in Chinese liberalism.
 “Final resting place” 归宿, can also mean "destiny," or "final destination"; Jiang Qing seems to be using it in a way related to identity.
 Liang Shuming 梁漱溟 (1893-1988) was an important philosopher and rural reformer in Republican-period China. He variously identified as Confucian or Buddhist, or both.
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