as Fashion: Ethnicity, Labor, and Status in Traditional China
As a result, a cultural practice called 'Footbinding
' was widely practiced during this era.
Chinese women practised footbinding
under the Qing and hence lacked the mobility to travel, emigrate and work abroad.
As the grandmother in the second anecdote knew well, the ingredients of happiness for women boiled down to longevity, if only so that they could in their old age reap the reward for a lifetime's toil and pain, from footbinding
and childbirth to the daily drudgery of domestic work.
(4.) Mackie G, Ending footbinding
and infibulation: a convention account, American Sociological Review, 1996, 61(6):999-1017.
For example, Gerry Mackie traces the evolution of footbinding
in China and female genital mutilation (FGM) in many African countries, and finds that these practices originated not to serve the interests of most members of the group but to ensure that imperial female slaves would remain faithful to their masters.
Psychiatrist Richard Schwartzman, a follower of Wilhelm Reich, concluded the day by presenting a fascinating and unique study of emotional factors responsible for cruel and unnecessary practices such as male circumcision, female genital cutting, and footbinding
Yan related an instinctive reaction on the streets: 'What does this trivial matter have to do with politics, so that the government should interfere in all seriousness?' Implied in the term 'trivial matter' (suoshi) is a concept of the bodily-private that people assumed should be immune from state micromanagement." See Ko, Cinderella's Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 56-57.
A reporter from the New York Journal of Commerce relates Moy's view on footbinding
: "an absurd cruelty of fashion by the way, which we understand she says, does not appear to her at all the more strange than some of the fashions she notices in the ladies who visit her" (reprinted in the Eastern Argus, January 16, 1835).
Similarly, a devoted reader would not recognise the 'blandness' she attributes to 'Catholic poems'; nor accept her reference to 'Chinese footbinding
' as a metaphor to describe the tight rhythms of the High Anglican Book of Common Prayer; nor concur with the view that working-class congregations found religious chanting 'artificial and alienating' (p.
By exploring the unexpectedly swift eclipse of three practices that had been accepted and endorsed for centuries (in one case for a millennium)--dueling among English gentlemen, footbinding
of women in China, and the institution of Atlantic slavery--Appiah hopes we can learn to harness the relevant winds of change to end rapidly the long-standing tradition of "honor killing" of females for bringing shame on their families through inappropriate (primarily sexual) conduct.
at 60 (explaining that footbinding
in China ended because "concern for national honor was shared by many in the educated classes who shaped China's transformation from an empire into a modern state").