Foot Binding

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A custom practised on young girls and women for about 1,000 years in China, ending in the early 20th century, which resulted in lifelong disabilities for most of its victims
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THE ancient Chinese practice of footbinding has always held fascination in the West - a curiosity set to heighten in the next few weeks with the imminent release of the blockbuster movie, Memoirs Of A Geisha.
Cinderella's Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding.
Mackie, Gerry, 1996 "Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account.
The custom of footbinding, together with others that promoted concubinage, female chastity, and arranged marriage were often cited by the May Fourth intellectuals as evidence of how much harm the Confucian tradition had done to women.
6) During the May Fourth Movement, by attacking traditional culture and Confucian ethical codes, Chinese women began raising their own voices, and increasing numbers of Chinese women devoted themselves to the women's movement, joining anti-imperialist marches, boycotting Japanese products, calling for national awakening, promoting women's suffrage, denouncing footbinding, sex segregation, the inhumanity of arranged marriages, and the poor quality of women's education.
Liverpool Museum will be holding a series of workshops about footbinding during the half term between 11am and 4pm next Wednesday and Thursday.
The volume contains virtually every predictable Chinese horror one might think of: from the first emperor's burying of scholars alive, to eunuchs, child brides, and slavery; from cannibalism, unusually cruel punishments, and cynical court intrigue to the inevitable opium smoking and footbinding.
My intention, say, in writing Gyn/Ecology was to -- truly for it to be a springboard, say for example the Second Passage [Daly's comparative analysis of Indian Suttee, Chinese footbinding, African genital mutilation, European witchburnings, and American gynecology, with an afterword on the influence of Nazi medicine on American gynecological practice].
In Cassandra, Florence Nightingale argues against the English woman's relegation to the domestic sphere by imaging her as Other, most vividly through allusions to Chinese footbinding, a statue of the Archangel Michael, and the mythic figure of Cassandra.
Hence, Falk suggests that the techniques of body modification (including hairstyle, branding, footbinding, scarification, tattooing, piercings, paintings, and body sculpting through weight lifting, cosmetic surgery and corseting) are culturally, not naturally determined.
My own feeling for the matter is that - yes - there was a long-term shift in late-imperial China towards constraining women's movements, and that it was expressed in part by - for example - the post-Song spread of footbinding (which of course never made it south past the Hakka line or into the lowest levels of society), or by the practice of the most fanatical 'faithful widows' from Ming times on (but not, I think, before) of virtually immuring themselves in a closed room, and as far as possible never showing their faces, while they passed the remainder of their days in a sort of living death.
Landes argues, as did Mary Wollstonecraft, that (northern) European freedom for women, at least relative to purdah and footbinding, made for economic growth.