The Uninhibited Women of the Tang Dynasty: How They Broke the Mold of Patriarchy
# A Tang Dynasty Uninhibited Woman - Introduction - Brief overview of the Tang dynasty and its social atmosphere - Thesis statement: The Tang dynasty was a golden era for women's rights in China, but it also had its limitations and challenges. - Body - Paragraph 1: The influence of Wu Zetian, China's only female emperor - How she rose to power and ruled the empire - How she promoted women's education, status and participation in politics - How she faced opposition and criticism from male elites and Confucian scholars - Paragraph 2: The freedom and diversity of Tang women's clothing and appearance - How Tang women could wear different styles of clothes, including men's clothes - How Tang women could adorn themselves with jewelry, makeup and hairstyles - How Tang women's beauty standards varied according to region, ethnicity and class - Paragraph 3: The opportunities and contributions of Tang women in economic and social activities - How Tang women could engage in agriculture, handicraft, textile and service industries - How Tang women could pay taxes, own property and inherit wealth - How Tang women could travel, trade and interact with foreigners - Paragraph 4: The romance and sexuality of Tang women in marriage and relationships - How Tang women could choose their spouses, divorce and remarry - How Tang women could have affairs, lovers and concubines - How Tang women could express their emotions and desires through poetry and art - Paragraph 5: The challenges and restrictions of Tang women in patriarchal society - How Tang women still had to obey their fathers, husbands and sons - How Tang women still faced discrimination, violence and exploitation - How Tang women still had to conform to moral codes and social norms - Conclusion - Summary of the main points and arguments - Evaluation of the achievements and limitations of Tang women's rights - Implications for the present and future of Chinese women's rights Here is the article I wrote based on the outline: # A Tang Dynasty Uninhibited Woman The Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) was one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan periods in Chinese history. It was also a time when women enjoyed unprecedented freedoms and opportunities in various aspects of life. However, it was not a utopia for women's rights. There were still many challenges and restrictions that Tang women had to face in a patriarchal society. In this article, we will explore the lives of Tang women from different perspectives: politics, culture, economy, society and morality. ## The influence of Wu Zetian, China's only female emperor One of the most remarkable figures in Chinese history is Wu Zetian (625-705 CE), who was the only woman to rule China as an emperor. She started her career as a concubine of Emperor Taizong (598-649 CE), then became the empress consort of his son Emperor Gaozong (649-683 CE), then became the empress dowager after his death, then usurped the throne from her grandson Emperor Zhongzong (684-710 CE), and finally founded her own dynasty, the Zhou (690-705 CE). Wu Zetian was a talented and ambitious ruler who expanded China's territory, reformed the government, promoted Buddhism, supported arts and sciences, and improved the welfare of the people. She also elevated the status and role of women in society. She appointed many female officials to high positions, encouraged women to pursue education and literacy, granted legal rights to widows and daughters, abolished foot binding (a practice that deformed women's feet for aesthetic reasons), and even changed some Chinese characters to reflect female power. However, Wu Zetian also faced fierce opposition and criticism from many male elites who resented her authority and challenged her legitimacy. They accused her of being cruel, tyrannical, immoral, corrupt, heretical, and unnatural. They also blamed her for causing natural disasters, social unrest, military defeats, and moral decay. They tried to overthrow her several times but failed. Wu Zetian defended herself with force, propaganda, censorship, purges, and executions. She also sought allies among Buddhist monks, foreign diplomats, and loyal generals. She managed to maintain her rule until her death at the age of 80. ## The freedom and diversity of Tang women's clothing and appearance Another aspect that reflects the liberation and diversity of Tang women is their clothing and appearance. Unlike other dynasties, where women had to wear long dresses that covered their bodies and faces, Tang women could wear different styles of clothes, including men's clothes. They could also adorn themselves with jewelry, makeup, and hairstyles. They could express their individuality, personality, and taste through their fashion choices. Tang women's clothing was influenced by various factors, such as region, ethnicity, class, and occasion. For example, women in the north wore warmer and thicker clothes than women in the south. Women of different ethnic groups wore different colors, patterns, and accessories. Women of higher classes wore more luxurious and elaborate clothes than women of lower classes. Women also wore different clothes for different occasions, such as festivals, ceremonies, banquets, sports, and travel. Tang women's beauty standards also varied according to these factors. For example, women in the early Tang preferred slender and delicate figures, while women in the late Tang preferred plump and voluptuous figures. Women of different ethnic groups had different preferences for skin color, eye shape, nose shape, and hair color. Women also used different methods to enhance their beauty, such as applying powder, rouge, lipstick, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, perfume, and henna. They also styled their hair in various ways, such as braids, buns, curls, bangs, and ornaments. ## The opportunities and contributions of Tang women in economic and social activities Another aspect that shows the empowerment and participation of Tang women is their involvement in economic and social activities. Unlike other dynasties, where women were confined to the domestic sphere and dependent on men, Tang women could engage in various productive and public activities. They could contribute to the economy, society, and culture of the Tang dynasty. Tang women could participate in various sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, handicrafts, textile manufacture, and service industries. They could cultivate crops, raise animals, make pottery, weave silk, and sell goods. They could also pay taxes, own property, and inherit wealth. They had more financial autonomy and security than women in other dynasties. Tang women could also participate in various social activities, such as travel, trade, and interaction with foreigners. They could visit temples, pilgrimage sites, and scenic spots. They could exchange goods, ideas, and cultures with people from different regions and countries. They could learn from foreign religions, arts, and sciences. They had more mobility and exposure than women in other dynasties. ## The romance and sexuality of Tang women in marriage and relationships Another aspect that reveals the passion and expression of Tang women is their romance and sexuality in marriage and relationships. Unlike other dynasties, where women had to obey their parents' arrangements, remain faithful to their husbands, and bear sons for their families, Tang women could have more choices and freedoms in their love lives. They could pursue their own happiness and desires in their intimate affairs. Tang women could choose their spouses, divorce and remarry. They could marry for love or convenience. They could divorce for abuse or incompatibility. They could remarry for security or companionship. They were not stigmatized or punished for changing partners. Tang women could also have affairs, lovers and concubines. They could have extramarital relationships for pleasure or power. They could have multiple partners for variety or satisfaction. They could have same-sex partners for friendship or attraction. They were not condemned or persecuted for having sexual adventures. Tang women could also express their emotions and desires through poetry and art. They could write poems about their love stories, feelings, and fantasies. They could paint pictures of their lovers, scenes, and dreams. They could sing songs of their joys, sorrows, and hopes. They were not silenced or censored for sharing their voices. ## The challenges and restrictions of Tang women in patriarchal society However, despite all these aspects that demonstrate the advancement and diversity of Tang women's rights, it was not a perfect world for them. There were still many challenges and restrictions that they had to face in a patriarchal society. They were still subordinate and vulnerable to men's domination and exploitation. Tang women still had to obey their fathers, husbands and sons. They still had to follow the Confucian principles of filial piety, loyalty and obedience. They still had to respect the male authority figures in their families, communities and government. They still had to perform the domestic duties of cooking, cleaning and childrearing. They still had limited access to education and career opportunities than men. They still had to face social pressure and expectations to marry, bear children, and be virtuous. They still had to deal with legal discrimination and injustice in cases of divorce, inheritance, adultery, rape, and murder. ## The education and literature of Tang women One of the most remarkable achievements of Tang women was their education and literature. Unlike other dynasties, where women were discouraged or prohibited from learning and writing, Tang women could pursue knowledge and literacy. They could study various subjects, such as history, philosophy, religion, poetry, and music. They could also write various genres, such as essays, letters, biographies, and panwen (written judgments). Tang women's education and literature were influenced by various factors, such as the patronage of Wu Zetian, the popularity of Buddhism, the openness of the civil service examinations, and the diversity of cultural influences. For example, Wu Zetian supported female education and appointed many female scholars to her court. Buddhism offered women a spiritual path and a literary outlet. The civil service examinations allowed some women to take part and demonstrate their talents. The cultural influences from different regions and countries enriched women's perspectives and expressions. Tang women's education and literature also contributed to various aspects of society and culture. They enhanced women's status and role in public life. They challenged the male dominance and bias in intellectual discourse. They enriched the literary tradition and canon with their unique voices and styles. They also influenced later generations of women writers and thinkers. # Conclusion In conclusion, the Tang dynasty was a golden era for women's rights in China, but it also had its limitations and challenges. Tang women enjoyed unprecedented freedoms and opportunities in politics, culture, economy, society and morality. They also faced fierce opposition and criticism from patriarchal forces that tried to suppress and exploit them. Tang women's rights were not static or uniform. They varied according to time, place, class, ethnicity, and circumstance. They were also not absolute or perfect. They had to balance between their own interests and desires and the expectations and norms of society. The achievements and limitations of Tang women's rights have important implications for the present and future of Chinese women's rights. On one hand, they inspire us to appreciate the legacy and heritage of Tang women who paved the way for later generations of Chinese women to pursue their dreams and goals. On the other hand, they remind us to be aware of the challenges and obstacles that still exist for Chinese women who struggle for equality and justice in a changing world. # FAQs - Q: When was the Tang dynasty? - A: The Tang dynasty was from 618 to 907 CE. - Q: Who was Wu Zetian? - A: Wu Zetian was China's only female emperor who ruled from 690 to 705 CE. - Q: What was panwen? - A: Panwen was a literary genre of written judgments that reached its peak in the Tang dynasty. - Q: What was foot binding? - A: Foot binding was a practice that deformed women's feet for aesthetic reasons. It was abolished by Wu Zetian in the Tang dynasty. - Q: Who were some famous Tang women poets? - A: Some famous Tang women poets were Yu Xuanji (844-869), Li Ye (c. 730-c. 784), Xue Tao (768-831), Zhang Jiuling (673-740), Liu Yuxi (772-842), Wang Wei (701-761), Bai Juyi (772-846), Li Bai (701-762), Du Fu (712-770), Li Shangyin (813-858), etc.
A Tang Dynasty Uninhibited Woman