Good Wife, Wise Mother

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Derived from an idealized traditional role for women, the ideology of Good Wife, Wise Mother or Wise Wife, Good Mother (Japanese: 良妻賢母 Hepburn: ryōsai kenbo?, Chinese: 賢妻良母/賢母良妻; pinyin: xián qī liáng mù/xián mù liáng qī) was coined by Nakamura Masanao in 1875.[1]

It represented the ideal for womanhood in the East Asian area like Japan, China and Korea in the late 1800s and early 1900s and its effects continue to the modern day. Women were expected to master such domestic skills as sewing and cooking as well as develop the moral and intellectual skills to raise strong, intelligent sons and daughters for the sake of the nation.

Childbearing was considered a "patriotic duty", and although in Japan this philosophy declined after World War II, feminist historians have argued it existed in Japan even as recently as the 1980s.[2]

The view was also possibly shared by Chinese traditional views at the time, like Lu Xun quoting the traditional view in Grave:[3] In female education, the most popular at that time is always the cry of the philosophy of "Wise mother, good wife" (在女子教育,则那时候最时行,常常听到嚷着的,是贤母良妻主义。) and Zhu Ziqing's "Wife of the landlord" (房東太太): she is a traditional wise wife, good mother; one can see the old taste of China. (道地的贤妻良母,她是;这里可以看见中国那老味儿。).

China[edit]

In Chinese feudal society, and even in modern society, especially in the countryside, a wife must consider her husband’s family more important than her own. The relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and the relationship between father and son is more important than the relationship between husband and wife. A wife must always be affable to her husband and never offensive or jealous. The husband has duties outside of the home and the wife has duties inside. Neither need to know of or interfere with each other’s tasks. To fulfill the role of “good wife, wise mother,” the woman must educate her children. Chinese society is based on family prosperity. A wife should be fertile, produce sons, and educate them so that they succeed.[4]

Japan[edit]

The phrase “good wife, wise mother” appeared in the latter part of the Meiji period in the late 19th century. During World War II it was taught to promote conservative, nationalistic, and militaristic state policies and to help a developing capitalistic economy.[5] From the late 1890s to the end of World War II, the phrase became increasingly prevalent in mass media and higher levels of public and private girl’s schools. During the 1890s “good wife and wise mother” was taught only in the higher levels where elite, upper-class girls attended. It was introduced to elementary schools’ curriculum when the 1911 revision of the ethics textbooks came out.[6]

Women were taught to fulfill this role because of nationalism. The Empire wanted to prevent Western invasion. When Western countries were making improvements in women’s social rights, such as suffrage, Japan was just beginning to confront women’s movements. Japan tried to establish the woman’s role and control new social movements through regularized education and prohibiting social and political rights.[6]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ See Sharon Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of a Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan, 1983, 22.
  2. ^ McLelland, Mark (January 2010). "Constructing the 'Modern Couple' in Occupied Japan". Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (23). ISSN 1440-9151. 
  3. ^ 墳, included in the compilation's first book, ISBN 7-02-001524-7
  4. ^ Fengxian, Wang. "The "Good Wife And Wise Mother" As A Social Discourse Of Gender." Chinese Studies In History 45.4 (2012): 58-70. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
  5. ^ Fujimura-Fanselow, Kumiko. “The Japanese Ideology of ‘Good Wives and Wise Mothers’: Trends in Contemporary Research.” Gender and History 3.3 (1991): 345-349. 2 Apr 2007. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
  6. ^ a b Nocedo, Ana Micaela Araújo. "The “good Wife and Wise Mother” Pattern: Gender Differences in Today‘s Japanese Society." Crítica Contemporánea. Revista De Teoría Politica 2 (Nov 2012): 1-14. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

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