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Women's Movements in Twentieth-Century Taiwan

Women's Movements in Twentieth-Century Taiwan

DORIS T. CHANG
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcqvj
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  • Book Info
    Women's Movements in Twentieth-Century Taiwan
    Book Description:

    This book is the first in English to consider women's movements and feminist discourses in twentieth-century Taiwan. Doris T. Chang examines the way in which Taiwanese women in the twentieth century selectively appropriated Western feminist theories to meet their needs in a modernizing Confucian culture. She illustrates the rise and fall of women's movements against the historical backdrop of the island's contested national identities, first vis-Ã -vis imperial Japan (1895-1945) and later with postwar China (1945-2000). _x000B__x000B_In particular, during periods of soft authoritarianism in the Japanese colonial era and late twentieth century, autonomous women's movements emerged and operated within the political perimeters set by the authoritarian regimes. Women strove to replace the "Good Wife, Wise Mother" ideal with an individualist feminism that meshed social, political, and economic gender equity with the prevailing Confucian family ideology. However, during periods of hard authoritarianism from the 1930s to the 1960s, the autonomous movements collapsed._x000B__x000B_The particular brand of Taiwanese feminism developed from numerous outside influences, including interactions among an East Asian sociopolitical milieu, various strands of Western feminism, and Marxist-Leninist women's liberation programs in Soviet Russia. Chinese communism appears not to have played a significant role, due to the Chinese Nationalists' restriction of communication with the mainland during their rule on post-World War II Taiwan._x000B__x000B_Notably, this study compares the perspectives of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, whose husband led as the president of the Republic of China on Taiwan from 1949 to 1975, and Hsiu-lien Annette Lu, Taiwan's vice president from 2000 to 2008. Delving into period sources such as the highly influential feminist monthly magazine Awakening as well as interviews with feminist leaders, Chang provides a comprehensive historical and cross-cultural analysis of the struggle for gender equality in Taiwan.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09081-3
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chronology of Taiwan’s History
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Note on Transcription
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Since the 1970s, several books in the English language have discussed women’s movements in mainland China during the twentieth century. The Chinese origin of most Taiwanese notwithstanding, no comparable study in the West has examined the political factors that contributed to the emergence of a Taiwanese women’s movement in the 1920s, its collapse in the early 1930s, and its reemergence and continuance in the early 1970s and thereafter within the context of Taiwan’s contested national identities in the twentieth century. This is the first book in English to fill this gap. As a case study of a non-Western society’s selective...

  7. 1. Feminist Discourses and Women’s Movements under Japanese Colonial Rule, 1895–1945
    (pp. 17-45)

    In the early 1920s, Taiwanese feminist discourse emerged in the context of the Japanese colonial government’s limited tolerance of political dissent. Beginning in the 1920s, the Taiwanese students who studied in China and Japan served as transmitters of a liberal strand of feminism and women’s rights ideology (J:joken shugi;C:nüquan zhuyi) from the cosmopolitan centers of Western learning in Tokyo, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing to colonial Taiwan. Just as Taisho Japan imported Western ideas to enrich the pluralistic discourse of its democratic experiment, the May Fourth movement (1915–23) in China also imported Western ideas to launch a...

  8. 2. The Kuomintang Policies on Women and Government-Affiliated Women’s Organizations
    (pp. 46-77)

    In 1949, four years after Taiwan was reintegrated into the Chinese polity, Chinese Communist troops defeated the Chinese Nationalists (Kuomintang) and the Kuomintang transferred the government to Taiwan. Prior to its arrival on the island, the Kuomintang promulgated civil codes and policies on mainland China dealing with women’s issues. These codes and policies were transferred to Taiwan and implemented during the postwar era.

    This chapter provides a historical overview of the continuities of the Chinese Nationalist ideology and the Kuomintang’s policies toward women from the First United Front (1923–27) in mainland China to its rule in postwar Taiwan (1945...

  9. 3. Hsiu-lien Annette Lu: The Pioneering Stage of the Postwar Autonomous Women’s Movement and the Democratic Opposition, 1972–79
    (pp. 78-106)

    On the occasion of International Women’s Day in 1972, Lu Hsiu-lien (Hsiulien Annette Lu) made a speech at the law school of National Taiwan University that launched the autonomous women’s movement in postwar Taiwan. This autonomous social movement emerged from the Taiwanese middle class within the context of the Kuomintang regime’s limited tolerance of sociopolitical dissent from the early 1970s. Concurrently, the greater tolerance for dissent than had previously been shown by the regime enabled Lu to launch the pioneering stage of the autonomous women’s movement from 1972 through 1977.¹

    Contrary to the Kuomintang-affiliated women’s organizations discussed in chapter 2,...

  10. 4. Lee Yuan-chen and Awakening, 1982–89
    (pp. 107-117)

    In 1982, one of Lu Hsiu-lien’s feminist associates in the 1970s, Lee Yuan-chen, emerged as a leading figure in Taiwan’s autonomous women’s movement.¹ In the same year, Lee and other feminists (nüxing zhuyi zhe) foundedAwakening(Funü xinzhi), a monthly magazine for feminist intellectuals and activists. In this chapter, I refer to the women who regularly contributed essays to the magazine as the Awakening feminists. I analyze Lee’sAwakeningessays from the monthly’s initial publication in 1982 to 1989, the year that Lee stepped down from her position as the chairperson of the Awakening Foundation’s board of trustees. I discuss...

  11. 5. The Autonomous Women’s Movement and Feminist Discourse in the Post–Martial Law Era
    (pp. 118-156)

    After the revocation of martial law in 1987, Taiwan’s democratization facilitated the diversification of feminist discourses and the creation of non-governmental women’s organizations. Rather than providing a comprehensive analysis of all such organizations during the period, this chapter will focus selectively on organizations that address specific women’s issues.

    In contrast to feminists’ prior need to compromise with conservatives, activists threw off their self-censorship after martial law ended. Hence, I will compare the post–martial law feminist discourses and organizational strategies with their earlier counterparts in the authoritarian political culture. I will also analyze the ways in which ideas in liberal...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 157-166)

    As we have seen, Taiwan’s democratization in the post–martial law period facilitated the diversification of feminist discourses and non-governmental women’s organizations. The revision of family laws and the enactment of the Gender Equality in Employment Law also significantly enhanced women’s rights and status. To a large extent, these changes fulfilled the autonomous women’s movements’ goals for gender equality. Due to the long history of authoritarian political culture in twentieth-century Taiwan, it was not until the post–martial law era that the government began to meet the feminist activists’ demands. The rise of Japanese militarism and ultra-nationalism in the early...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 167-200)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-220)
  15. Index
    (pp. 221-228)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-232)