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Footbinding Research Paper

Footslogging increased a woman’s chance of marrying well. A. Beauty B. Eroticism and Femininity C. Obedience and Discipline D. Status and Social position in Chinese society . Women’s position in Chinese society during 10th century of Imperial China. A. Family. B. Women’s work. IV. Footslogging was a violent act against women. A. Physical pain and its deformations. B. Psychological and emotional pain and its relationships. C. Footslogging thought the death V. Conclusion.

Footslogging: A Painful Tradition in China “Keep her barefoot and pregnant,” – Old Chinese Saying During the time women have deformed, mutilated, bounded, changed, manipulated, damaged, and altered their bodies not only to survive in the society, but also to satisfy the men erotically and sexually. Thus, one of the most painful ways in which women participated in and became bound to patriarchy was the footslogging. Footslogging was a Chinese tradition Of the binding the feet of women lasted for 1 ,OHO years.

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Mothers bound their daughters’ feet, and footslogging evolved into a rite of passage into womanhood within the Confucian system, which valued female domesticity and textile arts. “The historical origins footslogging are frustratingly vague, although brief textual references suggest that small feet for women were preferred as early as the Han dynasty (Event 1 This custom was “the act of rapping a three- to five-year old girl’s feet with binding so as to bend the toes under, break the bones and force the back of the foot together” (Event 1).

Its main purpose was to generate a tiny foot, the “golden lotus”, which was three inches long and thought to be both lovely and alluring (Ping x). In fact, footslogging symbolized the Chinese nation, civilized man, and the patriarchal power; in order words, the smallness of the feet became a source of pride for the woman – she was considered marriageable without them- (Event 3). In addition, footslogging was the way to introduce a young girl to the patriarchal ewer that would exist and dictate a woman throughout her entire life. Although footslogging increased a woman’s chances of marrying well, it was a violent act against women.

In fact, footslogging was an enduring violence and pain, mutilation and self-mutilation in the name of beauty and good marriage, and was transmitted only through codes Of silence that Was only a masquerade (Ping xi) “Theories on the origins and purpose of footslogging are proposed, and the erotic element is strongly stressed” (Ross 327). According to the records and sources, the practice of footslogging was originated during he fifty years that elapsed between the Tang Dynasty (618-906) and it gradually spread through the upper class during the Song Dynasty (960-1297) (Greenshank 7).

In the early 1 10th century, Emperor Lie You of the Southern Tang dynasty in China ordered his favorite dancer, Yah-inning, to bind her feet in silk ribbons and dance on a platform littered with golden lotus flowers so that her feet would look like new moons. From that day on, foot binding was often associated with the term golden lotus. In fact, the most popular and stylish type of footslogging shoes were known as “golden lotus” or “lotus shoe”. Also this term is a synonym for bound feet. Most lotus shoes were beautifully embroidered and about three inches long (“lotus shoes”).

The lotus shoes are known to be lovely and alluring to the male population in China (Event 1). Although footslogging was lovely and alluring, it is also life threatening (Event 1). Foot binding was something practiced only by those within the royal court but soon women of all social classes were eager to have dainty, “beautiful” and desirable feet (Greenshank 8). In the article “The Disappearance of Footslogging in Tingeing” by Sidney Gamble explains the situation of outbidding during the twelfth century. “The highly influential scholar- philosopher, Chug His (1130 – 1200), according to the DRP.

Line Hutting, was “enthusiastic in introducing footslogging in southern Kuris as a means of spreading Chinese culture and teaching the separation of men and women The custom does not seem to have penetrated northern China to any great extend under the Lila, the Chin, or the early Yuan dynasties” (181). By the same token, in the chapter II “Brief History of Footslogging” of the book Aching for Beauty by Wang Ping describes that “Tao Zoning (1 ,368) records in is Chou gene Ii that footslogging was still infrequent between 1,068 – 1,085” (31 In order words, the practice of footslogging already started, although it was still rare.

Nevertheless, during the Mining dynasty (1368-1644), “footslogging began to spread all over China. Bound feet, apart from being the measurement for beauty, became the symbol for social status” (Ping 32). In the same way during the King dynasty (1644-1911 the custom of foot binding spread through the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population. In the article “The Poisoned Lotus” by Beth Harrison confirms the allowing: “Although footslogging in China can be traced back to the twenty- first century BCC, the practice spread during the Song dynasty (960-CHOICE).

By the beginning of the King dynasty (1644-1911 despite a ban imposed by the Munch rulers, all classes of Han women (the predominant Chinese ethnic group) bound their feet. (1). In fact, Ping points Out what happened to footslogging during the King dynasty: “Footslogging reached its peak in the King dynasty (1644-1911 even though the Munch emperors forbade Munch girls to bind their feet and throughout their rule gave numerous orders to stop the practice among Han omen (the largest population of the ethnicities in China)” (33).

The journal “The Body as Attire” by Dorothy OK introduces the symbol of the Chinese nation and civilized man in the bound foot. In a 17th century story we are shown how officials decided to strength their defense against the barbarians. “One suggestion is to entice them (the barbarians) to civilize their customs by having their women follow the Chinese method: have them all tie up and bind their feet into the arch shape. Their men would thus be indulgent; would become lax in striking and lancing. This would weaken and Abdul the barbarians” (OK 1 1).

During the 1 7th century China also introduced the “Chinese clothing and civilizing project” (OK 12). Here clothing “headdress, dress, and shoes”(OK 12) all became symbols of political control and the Chinese nation. At this time China was constantly being invaded and therefore the clothing of an individual became a function of friend or foe. “Unadorned bodies and feet were thus seen as visible signs of savagery of 12). Visible unbound feet were seen as being savage-like than it is only normal that a woman would want her feet bound.

Not only because as a Oman she would be placed at the bottom of society, but also she had to have unbound feet as well she would be lower than the lowest. Toward the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the ;ninetieth century, the first anti-foot binding society was formed in China (Ping 36). The main point Of the anti-foot binding society was that the pain a woman went through in the foot binding process and through her life was an obstacle to her education (Broadband 421 Society members argued that the practice of footslogging was painful, deforming and crippling, and it was a sign of sexual indulgence Broadband 427).

As a result, “bounds women symbolized China’s lack of military strength, lack the economic productivity, and dissipation in individual erotic pleasures” (Broadband 427). In the same way, Harrison says: “After the fall of the Munches in the early twentieth century, a national propaganda campaign against footslogging began. Women with bound feet abruptly lost their high social status. In anti-footslogging meetings, women’s feet were bared, humiliating them and satisfying curious spectators.

Suddenly footslogging was no longer a female rite of passage but a symbol of national shame” (2). Finally in 1911 with the revolution of sun Hat-Seen, foot binding was officially outlawed. The process of footslogging was in effort to make the feet narrower, but it also made the feet shorter because it forced the big toe and the heel closer together. In fact, this process was synonym of ‘the violent mutilation of the feet eliminates between human and beast, organic and inorganic” (Ping 3).

Not only did footslogging whisper “seduction, eroticism, virtue, discipline, and sacrifices, but also it taught little girls about pain, about coming of age, about her place in this world, about her permanent bonding tit her mother and female ancestors” (Ping 4). The process of footslogging had the following step: 1. “Place one end of the bandage, about two inches wide and ten feet long, on the inside of the instep and from there carry it over the four small toes and wrap them once. 2. From De inside of the foot, pull the binding toward the front point and turn it tightly around the big toe. . Wrap the heel from the outer side of the foot, and pull the binding toward the front point so that the heel and toes are drawn together as closely as possible. Wrap the front except for the bid toe. 4. Wrap over the instep, go round the ankle, and return to the instep. 5. Turn toward the heel and wrap the binding from the inner side of the foot to the front point. 6. Wrap from the inner side and over the instep ton the outer side. Wrap around the heel and pull the binding back toward the part of bending cloth on the instep. 7.

Repeat the process from the beginning until the entire bandage is used, then sew the end to prevent the binding from coming loose” (Ping 4) “Little girls were initiated into the binding between the ages of five and seven, when their bones were still flexible IQ (primary life force) and their minds tauter enough (donnish) to understand the importance of this bodily discipline to undergo a long period of intense physical pain. The trauma radically changed her sense of the body in space and her sense of being in general” (Ping 6). Although the upper class began to binding as early as age three and the peasantry began as late as age twelve or thirteen. The initial binding was always performed by the mother or grandmother, whose “maternal feelings of compassion were more than offset by social considerations,” such as the necessity of finding a husband for the girl” (Greenshank 9). Once the girl’s foot had taken the desire size and shape, she would spend the rest of her life caring for the health and hygiene of her small feet and making the footwear she would use on them.

Size and shape was both subject to continuing attention, effort, and some degree of transformation” (Turner 464) Julie Broadband through her article ‘Walking Contradictions: Chinese Women unbound at the Turn of the Century’ explains that “every locale and social class had different ideal sizes and shapes for the altered foot” (428). By the sass’s, which is considered the height of the footslogging obsession, the reflect Lotus Foot was a mere 3″ long.

For women from an elite family, the 3″ bound foot was the desired size. The wealthier women employed servants to do daily tasks and could afford to be carried around their village in sedan chairs instead of walking. For poorer women who needed to work, 5″ was considered an acceptable size. Not only was the size a factor to judge the perfect Lotus foot, but also the shape of the foot was taken into account. If the foot were misshapen, as in crooked or a large big toe, it was not considered beautiful.

The popularity of the properly proportioned and well- heaped Lotus Foot made the girl who possessed them a good catch for marriage. For a girl from a poor family the well-bound lotus foot could give her the opportunity to marry into a higher class. Likewise, footslogging was around some myths among men. Aka Ross in his article “(Hand) Made in China: the curious return of the footslogging shoe” points out two important assumptions of footslogging. “The first is the importance of vision: seeing is believing. The second is that the bound foot is the ‘sexual holy grail’.

Although the bound foot may not look immediately ‘sexy’ within western sexual economy there is an unbreakable link between the bound foot and sex, which becomes stretched (but not broken) once the bound foot is nothing more than a curious oddity and an obvious symbol of the exotic rather than the erotic” (318). In the same way, “the multiple values, inclining beauty and morality, which women believed their bound feet embodied, remained relevant” (Broadband 418). Footslogging was “a tradition that evolved in the concept of “ideal image” including beauty, marriage and sex” (Event 3).

Footslogging was also considered charming, showed a sense of class, and was the symbol of hastily in most Chinese cultures. It was believed to promote health and fertility, although in the reality the tradition was malodorous and virtually crippling (Event 2). In fact, it was a way to keep women in seclusion from the rest of the world, which made them more dependent on others and less useful around the house. Therefore, the beauty of the foot could not be divorced from the beauty of the shoe. Foot binding began as a luxury among the rich; it made the women more dependent on others and less useful around the house.

This was especially hard on the poor who needed help around the house or farm. It soon became a prerequisite for marriage well. “Women marrying into the patriarchal family could disrupt its stability by offering dissenting opinions about the allocation of labor and goods within the family, or by simply refusing to accept patterns of authority and interaction already established, and returning to their natal homes footslogging functioned differently in the premarital and post marital phases of females life” (Greenshank 13).

In fact, footslogging was even a just reason for a man to call off marriage if he found out that the woman that had been arranged for him to marry did not eave bound feet. This situation is very sad because there are very few accounts of women who Were successful. These Women would end up suffering trying to work in the fields tottering on their bound feet. A mother was obligated to bind her daughters’ feet or she almost certainly would never get married.

The bound foot woman had to walk with all of her weight on her heels and tottered as she walked. For instance, Event explains in her term paper the following: “Within the areas and classes in which footslogging was widely accepted, a girl of marriageable age with natural feet had only limited respects for making a “good” marriage, one which reflected well on her family’s ability to raise her properly.

Having a daughter with bound feet conferred many potential benefits both on the girl and her family, transforming the biological disadvantage of being born female into a distinct social advantage by increasing her opportunities for making a lucrative marriage her selection in marriage was the responsibility of her prospective mother-in-law, whose criterion for a good daughter-in-law was the discipline that the bound foot represented, thus a daughter learned that she carried the petitions of both her natal family and the family into which she married in the bind of her feet. (3). Although females were less valued in the traditional Chinese society, the family members may have viewed footslogging as a good investment on their daughters. It may elevate the status of the family by increasing her opportunity for making a lucrative marriage. In fact, footslogging offered not only the parents some economical and political advantages of marrying their daughter into a rich family, but also the daughter got some positive things.

The most immediate source of economic gain was the gift Of money sent to he bride’s family from the groom’s parents. Other potential sources of profit, such as loans or business deals with the son-in-laws family, were less immediate and hinged on a multitude of unforeseeable factors. Political benefits, however, were more persuasive. For having relatives in office or even making contracts with influential people was the best way to gain immunity from political exploitation.

In addition to political gains for the family there were advantages for the daughter, for the higher she married, the less degrading manual labor she would have to perform” (Greengage 13). Footslogging brought woman married life in duties to fulfill in order to keep a good relationship with her husband: 1. “In realizing her primary function of reproduction, the young woman transgressed critical social boundaries by the taint of uterine discharge and the introduction of her and her babies unfamiliar, unassociated bodies into the family to which she was married. . Footslogging prepared the young woman for the aggravation, pain, and dread associated with menstruation, sexual consummation, pregnancy, and birthing’ (Blake 648) On the other hand, footslogging was a key Of becoming beautiful by men’s yes. “It was entwined with all the key events in a woman’s life. Her maturation process was punctuated with the acts of binding and the crafting of special shoes to contain her bound feet. These activities also entailed a woman’s expression of her sense of beauty’ (Broadband 430).

Later, footslogging had becomes a must for females because unbound girls were considered unsuitable for marriage. A girl with natural feet had limited opportunities for making a good marriage, one that reflected well on her family’s ability to raise her properly (Event 3). Because of the beauty of outbidding, tiny feet were more important than pretty face; for example, “peasant daughters who could no afford to have their labor power impaired for life often swathed their feet just prior to marriage and unbound the soon after’ (Greenshank 14).

Bound feet became the emblem of femininity and eroticism through physical and linguistic violence (Ping 4). The sexual play is often involved with oral consumption -? the mount that kisses, bites, and licks the tiny feet as well as the languages that dotes on them” (Ping 79). In other words, “the bound foot clearly differentiated woman from man while multitudinously serving as an erotic object” (Harrison 2). However, bound feet were compared to the “golden lotus”, which is characterized by grace and beauty.

Bound feet symbolize femininity, so women cannot be compared to the delicateness of the flower unless they have their feet bound. Women having natural size feet were considered to be similar to men’s and it’s therefore disgraceful and unattractive. “Sealing decay and death beneath its beautiful surface (wrapping and shoe as masks); footslogging promises immortality; yet at the same time, the odor, shape, and euphemism Of the mound foot constantly reminds the fetish lovers of carnality, animally, death, and violence” (Ping). Flat shoes decorated with flowers in gold thread, high- heeled shoes which make a large pair of feet (five or six inches) appear smaller, slippers with erotic scenes stitched inside as a form of wedding night sex instruction: all are subject to the same impulse to collect and display” (ROSS 31 2). Women began to learn how to have disciple and obedience thought the practice of footslogging. For instances, the mother began the transition into the discipline of the social world. Chinese, nevertheless, recognize that round the age of five or six, the child’s ability “to understand things” (donnish) is sufficient for the child to begin in earnest the discipline of the mindful body” (Blake 679). In fact, the correct female behavior was based on her marketability (Greenshank 12). During the second century A. D, the Precepts for Women (Nu Chichi) codified the principle of male dominance in the three obedience (San Tutu’s) and four virtues (Us Et). Greenshank points out the following: “Before a woman is married, she must obey her father; when married she must live for her husband; and as widow she must revere her sons.

As One Chinese male put it, “the chief end of a woman in China is to live as a good daughter, a good wife and good mother (for) a true Chinese woman has no self. ” The four virtues that had to be learned were: Woman’s Behavior: chaste and yielding, calm and upright. Woman’s Speech: not talkative, yet agreeable. Woman’s Carriage and Appearance: restrained and exquisite. Woman’s Occupation: handiwork, embroidery” (12). At the same time, footslogging was a way to achieve a good status and position in the Chinese society.

In fact, “A girl’s foot marked her as being from particular region, as well as belonging to a particular economic and / or cultural stratum” (Ross 313). “Children had no say in the choice Of partner and, one married, were pressured to remain in the joint family, where the senior male parent controlled all family resources and the senior female parent controlled all domestic affairs” (Greenshank 12). In effect, “from the standpoint of the girl’s family the optimal match was with a family moving up the ladder of status and success” (Greenshank 13).

In addition, footslogging had two purposes applied in the development of Chinese society: “First, outbidding kept women in a hobbled and subservient domestic state; second, it rendered them sex objects to satisfy certain perverted erotic fantasies of men” (OK 8). Therefore, “footslogging again supported the family system with its elevation of age over youth and male over female” (Greenshank 15). As footslogging restricted women physically, women are forced to stay at home and to be easily dominated by her husband.

It strengthened the Confucian ideal for a woman to be confined and subjugated by men. The control of women’s mobility not only assured her chastity, but also prevented her from running away or seeking help in the neighborhood. As a result, women must be passive and accept every whim and desire of her husband. In most cases, women were only treated as sex objects for men’s satisfaction. Women are being euthanized. Because of this gender inequality, men are allowed to have as many concubines as they want, while women should always be loyal to their husbands.

Footslogging covered all aspect of the core social, political, moral, and economic institution of Chinese society:”The Chinese family was both the root and microcosm of a highly centralized and stratified political system. The root of the empire is in the state” The root of the state is in the family” (Greenshank 11). “Feet and shoe were advertisement for upbringing, cultural level and accomplishment, family background and temperament. Impossibly small, these feet were originally a source of great pride. Small feet added prestige to a family’ (Ross 313). Neo-Confucian though was long on its demand that female become virtuous and industrious while bending to the will of male authority, but it was short on how this process of “becoming her body: should be accomplished Given the culturally exaggerated sense of a moan’s body as mediating space and given the cultural necessity that a woman properly orient her body – that is, bend it to will of male authority – it is reasonable that a girl’s way of signifying her womanhood should be conceptualized in bending the organs that control space, spatial extension, and 681).


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