Chinese Women and Christianity in the Late Imperial Era

By Iulia O. Basu-Zharku
2011, Vol. 3 No. 02 | pg. 1/1

Christianity has not gained a large number of adepts in China, if compared, for example, with Japan. But Christianity in China, in the late Imperial Era, had a number of particularities. Moreover, Christianity sometimes influenced Chinese women’s lives but only in conjunction with other cultural elements and only if we take into consideration the broader context of the situation. Other times it did not influence women’s lives at all. Thus, this paper will focus on the context in which Christianity found itself in China, the way it adapted to Chinese culture, and the significance it had for Chinese women. Specifically, this paper will show how Christianity helped women find a way to escape the existing gender relationships, and that the male authority and many communities were resistant to this trend.

Christianity in the early Late Imperial Era

Since Matteo Ricci obtained permission, in 1582, to penetrate into mainland China, Christianity saw a steady, and sometimes even astounding growth as a religious denomination in the secular state that was China.1 A year later, missionaries received for the first time the permission of residence.2 In the 1630s, the foreign Christian missions increased in number, to about 30-40, and the missionaries tried to attract especially the learned elite, which controlled the bureaucratic system on which China’s social and political structure was built.3 In this way, a top-down conversion was hoped for. Only a small minority of the literati actually converted to Christianity, while the majority was neutral.4 What particularly attracted the learned elite was the connection they saw between Christianity and Western science, and in approaching Christianity, they actually tried to gain as much practical knowledge as possible from the missionaries.5 Thus, in 1636, almost 38, 300 Catholics (among which 140 of the Emperor’s family members, along with some court women, could be counted) were to be found in China.6 This shows that the vast majority of the Chinese Christians were illiterate. What it does not show is the way Christianity was shaped by the Chinese people and the Chinese culture. Although there were some tensions, namely about some rites, such as the cult of ancestors7, Christian belief in sin and retribution fit with the general morality promoted by Confucianism, and anyhow, in order to be accepted by the Chinese authorities it had to prove being on the side of Confucianism.8 Thus, the newly arrived religion emphasized the moral side of it, showing it was complementary to and even a kind of monolithic Confucianism. What was also essential was that the practice of Christianity had to respect the norms of Chinese society, especially the separation of believers according to sex, age, and social background.9 In addition, preaching was done in Chinese and the printing culture, already well developed in China, influenced Christianity by spreading its dogmas but also furthering a variety of commentaries and views about it.10

Thus, we find Chinese Christian communities in cities and villages, organized around certain rituals, which gave meanings and a sense of salvation to people, but with their specific Chinese religiosity shaping the religion and the way of practicing it.11 Prominent among these was the existence of special congregations for women.12 In Hangzhou, as part of a Christian college, there was also the Church of the Savior, and this church had a separate chapel designed for women, which respected the strict gender segregation practiced in the society at large and especially in the literati elite.13 In Shandong, women chapels existed as well,14 or some alternatives for sex segregation were found, such as having two separate rows for men and women,15 or having two separate services at different times for men and women.16 And although certain aspects of the Christian religion did reinforce the sex segregation, such as the cult of the Virgin Mary,17 other aspects of Christianity came into conflict with Chinese traditions. One of the most conspicuous was the presence of male priests among the women’s congregations, which aroused suspicion18 and sometimes ended in foreign priests being accused of touching women during the administration of Communion.19 This, but also the presence of Chinese secret societies such as the Natural Sect, which drew heavily on Christianity and had members worshipping together, without respecting the customary separation by age and sex,20 brought persecution upon Christians, to the point where women’s chapels were specifically being targeted.21 In this view, Christianity was a sect, and a dangerous one for that matter, because of the taboos (e.g., both sexes worshipping together) being broken by Christians. Another reason for conflict was the fact that many of the Chinese women that converted to Christianity remained unmarried, mostly in order to preserve their own independence, away from any male control, which tended to aggravate the non-Christians.22 However, even then it was recognized that women were essential in transmitting rituals and traditions in the family,23 and this came down from the time of their practicing Confucianism.

The Influence of Catholicism on Chinese Women’s Lives: The Case of Jiangxi (1860-1900)

 As can be inferred from above, Christianity in China was viewed both as a heterodox sect, but also as a religion associated with the West24. Between 1807 and 1906, Catholicism missions and converts declines, due to the lack of foreign leadership and sect rebellions such as the White Lotus25, but after the Opium War, foreigners could again travel and Catholic missions increased in number. A nefarious consequence of this was the suppression of Chinese clergy and lay leadership.26 Another rebellion, the Taiping rebellion, heavily influenced by Christian thought, although refuted by foreign missionaries, helped to set Chinese authorities against Christians and to view them as agents of social disorder and sedition.27

Nevertheless, from 1860 to 1900, through the Sino-French Treaties (1858, 1860), missionaries obtained the right to purchase land and built on it,28 which helped Catholics organize local communities in a more cohesive way. But the peaceful competition for resources and influence in the local society threatened the literati and the gentry class. In addition, Christians built schools, clinics and intervened in lawsuits on the behalf of converts, and many Christians refused to pay the fee for the temple festivals. Thus, attacks ensued on churches, Chinese Christians, and foreign missions.29 Finally, between 1900 and 1914, after the Boxer Uprising (anti-foreign and anti-Christian), Chrisitanity flourished, although in the case of Catholicism, little development in terms of modern schools, medical works, publishing, and involvement in reforms and modernization of the higher education was done. Catholic communities tended to be more self-contained, although expanding, and most of the leadership positions were occupied by foreigners. Three important Catholic Universities did exist, one founded by a Chinese Jesuit priest, Ma Xiangbo.30

In this historical context comes the analysis of Christianity in the Jiangxi Province.31 The analysis is mainly focused on Catholic rural Christians, giving an insight not only in how Catholicism influenced the lives of women in the Late Imperial Era, but more specifically on how it influenced rural women’s lives. Women converts are usually mentioned in sources as following their husbands’ conversion. Sometimes even concubines are mentioned to follow this practice, but it is never mentioned how the Church dealt with these cases, since Christianity allows only monogamy.32 Unfortunately, there is little data as to how many rural women actually converted, because many times they would be registered upon the conversion of their husbands, and if they converted independently from them, many times they were omitted from the Church registries. This lack of good organization was a rather pervasive trait of Catholicism in China. Notwithstanding this, women were seen favorably by priests since they were affecting their families and neighbors, and bringing them to the faith. Others were even “consecrated virgins,” who did not marry, but lived with their parents, due to a lack of convents in the area. Abandoned and orphan girls, raised by the Church, were supposed to marry non-Christians and bring them to faith, and if they could not persuade their husbands, most at least baptized their children.33 This practice sometimes got out of hand, when in the XIX century, poor Catholic families sold over 200 girls to non-Catholic families for marriage.

Thus, Catholicism in rural China brought about local conflicts but was also accommodated. There were various reasons for these conflicts: financial34, sacrileges such as moving a missionary’s coffin35, but the most prominent were those involving women. The society did not look with sympathy to the fact that men and women worshiped together in churches, since even in this later stage of the Imperial Era, the norm of sex segregation was still valid.36 Also, women were somewhat empowered because they could invoke religion and go to church, where many times they were taking care of the orphans, and if they were dissatisfied with their own marriage they could complain about it. For example, a woman with the last name Zhang, married Deng, but the latter took a concubine (neé Rao) and Zhang complained about it.37

The cases of widowed women emphasize the conflicts and the fact that the religion invoked sometimes made no difference when it came to the moral standards and traditions of local society. For example when the widow Wu hired and had an illicit affair with Zhang, who was Catholic, she still had to marry him so to “save face” and was forced to give her property deed to her son in order to keep it away from her new husband.38 Also, in a lineage with both Catholics and non-Catholics, when two of the members committed adultery and were found out, they had to suffer the consequences of their action, being killed when they refused to come before the law.39 Moreover, when in the Huang lineage, a young widow was forced to remarry by her in-laws, Catholicism did not seem to make much difference, but the lineage connections and women’s chastity were very important. Other problems, such as the refusal to pay temple fees and women’s independence are clear in the example of the four women (probably widows, since Father Tamet-the one who relates about them-does not mention their husbands) who set up a retail business. When they refused to pay the fee for the temple’s festival, their store was set on fire and many other stores burnt because of it. When one of the widows complained, the magistrate arrested and beat the Catholics, who still would not pay, until the French minister intervened and pointed out that Catholics should not be forced to pay for local deities’ festivities.40 These individual cases illustrate the accidental role Christianity (and specifically Catholicism) played in Chinese women’s lives. They do not seem to have been affected much because they pertained to this denomination, and if the men around them were the Christians-it still did not seem to make a difference. What seemed of crucial importance were the old traditions and customs. The Catholic Church, in its turn, did not seem to create a special space or special opportunities for women. If any such opportunities appeared, they were mostly a by-product of the regular activities of the Church.

A good example is the case of Chinese orphan girls. Catholics would educate them in the faith, and used the relationship between orphans and their wet nurses to attract the latter into converting and permitted adoptions only after conversion. When the girls would become women, the priests would agree to marry them off to men who were new Catholic converts and encouraged marriages with men from the surrounding area. In this way, they created a local Catholic community.41 Thus, by building schools and taking care of orphans, Catholics did attract the admiration of the Chinese society. Also, they created employment opportunities, and some of these jobs were occupied by women, who in this way could get out of the house without being criticized for it (e.g., women working as wet nurses).42 Female catechumens gained in dignity when becoming Christian because they achieved a level of self-esteem and self-confidence. Chinese Catholic women were also the ones to contribute to the increase in the number of the conversions, by converting their husbands and children. They also could escape from the household duties, achieve education, and refine their devotional practices by participating in lay retreats. Another way of gaining a measure of independence, women would become “consecrated virgins,” and live communally, with other women, away from the male control they would have experienced had they married.43 Some of them (e.g. the consecrated virgins in Sichuan) did evangelization work, while others organized themselves in “sworn sisterhoods,” through which they could gain some financial independence and mobility, and played an important role in churches, as well. By 1900 there were about 500 Chinese sisters in missionary orders and between 3,000 and 4,000 lay women evangelizing in the countryside.44

This shows that, although Chinese women were sometimes empowered through conversion to Catholicism, this empowerment was a by-product of the Church’s extensive conversion policies. The primary goal of the Church was to attract as many people as possible to the faith, and taking care of the orphans, or providing some educational opportunities were ideal ways to attract the respect and admiration of the community, and thus more converts. The fact that Chinese women actually were empowered and gained a level of independence that they could not reach previously was only a consequence of these actions of the Church. Of course, Christianity did not always bring advantages. Chinese men usually treated women much like before: selling girls in marriage, getting concubines, considering them property and sexual objects, good at producing male heirs. Even after they converted, Chinese men continued this pattern of behavior, and priests had a hard time eliminating these beliefs. The priests also knew that the behavior of Christians would influence non-Christians in converting or at least in the way they looked upon this foreign religion. In some cases, they had to mediate these conflicts. An example is the Catholic man who married a non-Catholic woman who was already married, and the priest recognized the marriage between the Catholic and the woman and baptized her, when her first husband refused to convert.45

The Influence of Protestantism on Chinese Women’s Lives: The Case of Fuzhou (1852-1927)

In the case of Protestantism, the missions started in 1807, when Robert Morrison established the first one, and although until 1860 they made few converts, they actually set the foundations for a future mission enterprise. For example, Protestant missionaries translated the Bible in China in 1819, built numerous educational institutions, such as the Anglo-Chinese College, and opened hospitals such as the one in Canton in 1835.46 Between 1860 and 1900, Protestant missions increased in number rapidly47and they continued building schools, clinics, publishing offices. In addition, they taught English and even managed the times of famine. The Chinese composed the majority of the staff in these missions and they used Protestantism as a way of upward mobility. Along with this utilitarian reasons, other people, especially those from rural areas, were attracted by the identity, security and faith in Christianity. Even politics were permeated by Protestantism, who contributed to the reformist currents that were ongoing in Chinese society.48

Between 1900 and 1911, after the Boxer Uprising, the Qing government promoted reforms, such abolishing the examination system, promoting modern education, and creating a constitutional political system. Protestant schools set the standard for the modern education.49 In addition, the number of Protestant missions and converts increased, and promoted fairly prosperous communities because of the Protestant school system. Many Chinese Protestants were actually involved in social and political reforms, such as campaigns against footbinding and opium societies, and some even held office (e.g., Sun Yat-sen was a Protestant the first provisional president of the Republic, in 1912). This development was probably furthered by a relative independence of Protestant churches, and the new generation of Chinese church leaders,50 something that Catholic churches lacked many times.

From this short historical overview, it is clear that Protestantism had a greater impact on Chinese society than Catholicism did. More specifically, Protestantism also had a deep impact on Chinese women’s lives than Catholicism did and empowered them through the various opportunities offered by the Church. The Protestant church spread throughout Fuzhou by sparking the interest of some people by the preaching of a missionary or Chinese preacher, and soon others (often relatives) would come to the meetings, too. Preachers would preach and teach literacy in the surrounding areas, as well. The Protestant churches were much more conscious about the taboos of Chinese society and had methods to deal with them that Catholic priests did not. Thus, the missionaries’ wives were the ones to teach women and girls.51 Other cases illustrate the same aspect: a woman who had a vision telling her to learn the Christian doctrine, converted, and the missionary’s wife taught her. The newly convert became a lay evangelist. Another woman carried her Bibles with her to the new house when she married and two men read them and converted.52 In this context, Protestant were able to introduce many opportunities for women, which had been scarce or lacking up to that point. The most important of these was education. The first school for girls was opened by an English missionary woman, in 1844, in Ningbo.53 Methodists and Anglicans opened in Gutian a series of elementary schools, with boarding schools for both girls and boys between 1887 and 1893. In 1923, only the Methodists had 42 girls’ schools, with 43 teachers and 574 students. The Protestant schools were the only way for women to achieve higher education in Gutian up until the 1940s (of the 162 who were listed in 1942 as pursuing higher education, 157 had graduated from Protestant schools, including 40 women who graduated from universities, Chinese or foreign).54

One aspect of the education that Protestant schools introduced in China was physical education, first as a means of preventing illnesses such as malaria, smallpox, and the plague. It was also a means of criticizing the lack of physical emphasis in the elites.55 But missionaries took great care to be as considerate as possible of Chinese social customs and so modified some of the exercises recommended for girls, so as not to cross the propriety boundaries. The most practiced sports were calisthenics, track events, and basketball. Nonetheless, the practice of footbinding was a serious impediment to this kind of education, and consequently missionaries strongly advocated against it. Some missionaries refused to admit girls with bound feet in school unless they took the bandages off-a practice that was adopted by the Chinese government only in 1907, upon inaugurating public education for girls.56

Among those advocating for women’s education, Chinese preachers were prominent. They emphasized the necessity for women’s education, and especially of the teaching of English in missionary schools (e.g. the Chinese Methodist leaders argued for the inclusion of English in the girls’ boarding school curriculum57), which the foreign missionaries often argued against, considering that evangelism should have primacy.58 Moreover, many new converts sought education for their wives and daughters, which determined the spread of literacy and Bible classes for women. Many small schools were developed in rural villages, which sent their better students to Christian boarding schools and these in turn sent their students to higher-level education.59 Daughters of first-generation Protestants had these opportunities more than their mothers could have ever dreamed of. The case of Xu Jinhong, the daughter of Xu Yangmei, became the first woman from Fuzhou and the second in China to be sent to America to study in 1884.60 When she came back, in 1895, she became the first Chinese missionary of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church and ran a women’s and children’s hospital.

This is also to show that education was not the only opportunity opened to Chinese women. The Protestant Churches offered women new public roles: preacher’s wives were educated, they ran schools for women and girls in their homes, and some even became public speakers (e.g., Xu Yangmei’s wife took an active role in the annual women’s conference of the Methodist church).61 Women could be missionaries, and could work in boarding schools for women and girls, which gave these schools the credibility, stability, and continuity that Catholic schools often lacked. Moreover, widows, who did not have many options in Chinese society in the late Imperial Era, could become deaconesses or Biblewomen, pioneer evangelists, working in schools or women’s hospitals. Protestantism also opened the gate to upward mobility, as the case of the Xu family shows: in the first generation of converts there were three preachers and one doctor, in the next there were two preachers, four doctors (of which two were women), three teachers (of which one was a woman who had studied in America), and two naval officers, and the next generations only increased the count.62

Finally, Protestantism was an important agent behind many a social reform that had a deep impact on Chinese women’s lives. The Anglican Provincial Councils imposed that Christian girls would not be married until they were 18 years old, and only after they were consulted.63 Another issue that the protestant Churches took a strong stance on was footbinding.

In Fuzhou, many men who became Protestants wanted to educate their wives and daughters, and started campaigning against footbinding (e.g., the Chinse preacher Huang Naishang) in the 1870s. Huang Naishang and Franklin Ohlinger founded and edited the first periodical in Fujian, “Zion’s Herald,” in which the former published five articles against the custom of footbinding.64

Education of girls went hand in hand with many reforms, especially the one regarding footbiding. Some of the schools of the American Board mission, such as the Ponasang Women’s College, would focus on creating an elite clientele, and many of the girls can be seen in photos as having their feet bound.65

Some agencies, backed by Protestant support, furthered these social reforms. Protestant social progressivism, the activism of reform societies and the Fuzhou elite, all met into the YMCA, seeking to change China through education (it actually started among the students in the mission colleges) and popular mobilization, and helped the progressive elite in promoting such social reforms as discouraging footbinding, prostitution, gambling, and opium consumption, all of which deeply impacted women’s lives.66 Furthermore, the Fujian Provincial Assembly, in its first session (October 14 to November 25, 1909) organized a Natural Foot Society, to work against the custom of footbinding. In addition, the Assembly saw many proposals dealing with the setting of schools for women in order to enhance their patriotic feelings.67 Nationalism became prominent in this era, and it did not exclude women: in the view of many of the Protestant politicians, Chinese women were essential to furthering the patriotic feeling, and women as such played their role in various patriotic activities, such as the boycott against American goods in response to the U.S. exclusion laws, which prohibited Chinese “coolies” to enter the U.S. and let to long periods of detention to all Chinese travelers for examination. Many of the students, men and women alike, in missionary schools in Fuzhou, especially Anglo-Chinese Colleges supported this boycott, because some of the students suffered this type of detention, in spite of their valid student visas.68

At  a Crossroads

From the historical background, case studies, and brief critical analysis above it is quite clear that Christianity-whether in the form of Catholicism or Protestantism-had an impact on Chinese women’s lives. However, there are questions that arise as to how and what this impact was: Was the Christian missionary movement gendered? Did Christianity effectively challenge the existing gender hierarchy? Did Christianity help in bringing about the women’s liberation? First, it should be noted that the most affected were rural women, due to their larger independence (e.g., they were not as secluded and bound to Confucianism as urban women). Also, the most affected women, because of their greater time and less duties towards the society as marriageable women, could profit more form Christianity and the opportunities it offered.69 And, to answer the questions listed above, the Christian missionary movement was gendered, but only in part. Also, it did bring a measure of women’s liberation about, but again, only part of it did. However, it did not challenge the existing gender hierarchy. What Christianity did was to make women visible in society, open the discussion regarding some of women’s issues, and push for social reforms that concerned women, all this without challenging the heavily patriarchal Chinese society to its core.

Christianity, overall, had some traits that emphasized the role and importance of women, and brought about a measure of emancipation and empowerment to Chinese women. However, the most practical opportunities, consciously offered and not by-products of missionary goals, were offered by Protestantism. Catholicism offered some opportunities for women’s empowerment, but they were few and represented by-products of the larger goals of the Church: evangelism and expansion of the faith. The overall massage of Christianity was one of equality between the sexes, inasmuch as God was seen as a Father-Mother figure, due to His care and love for His creation. Moreover, Jesus’s relationship with the women surrounding Him presented women in a dignified, respected light. Finally, the cult of the Virgin, especially in Catholicism, helped in bringing women closer to Christianity. In Protestantism, Mary was presented as a model of motherhood, understanding, and gentleness, and thus was in harmony with the Chinese ideal woman.70 But Christianity attracted women for more than these theological and moral reasons. Rural, illiterate, young, and old women were especially drawn and had much more freedom to become Christians, while Christianity offered them a large variety of opportunities, the major ones having already been listed. For example, since many of the converts had to have at least some knowledge of the Bible, many were taught to read. In 1907, almost half of the communicant women and one-fourth of the regular church attendants could; this in the context of 80-90% illiteracy in the whole country. The churches also took care to have partitions to separate women from men and had separate religious meetings, so as to avoid criticism, but also to attract respectable women, from the gentry class.71 Segregation also encouraged women’s religious meetings and the development of leadership in these all-female communities. Biblewomen were prominent, and if in 1876 there were only 90 (Protestant figures), in 1907, there were 894 Bible women. They taught women and children to read and learn the Christian doctrine. Other women were deacons or even preached, sparking the debate about the propriety of women speaking and preaching in public.72

This rising women’s leadership can be seen in the women missionaries’ discussion about women’s issues at the 1890 missionary conference and in the reform movements taking place in the late Qing era. The anti-footbinding movement was started by 60 Chinese Christian women in Xiamen, in 1874, who met to discuss the footbinding practice and to organize the Anti-footbinding society. In 1872, Mary Porter and Maria Brown opened a school in Beijing where only girls who consented to unbinding their feet were accepted. This effort was continued by Alicia Little, who founded the Natural foot society, in Shanghai, in 1895. All these efforts were sustained by teachers and missionary women in schools, and it was due to them that girls could go through the painful process of unbinding, and sustaining an environment that excluded footbinding from the definition of an educated woman. They also helped in finding husbands for these girls, since their parents’ biggest fear was that they could not find one once having unbound their feet.73 Another reform started by women was the temperance movement, which developed since the visit of Frances Willard in China, in 1883. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union opened centers in China, and advocated strongly against the use of opium, cigarettes and alcohol. It did so through less dramatic strategies, such as spread of leaflets containing information about eugenics and the physiological effects of these drugs, as well as through public lectures and temperance meetings.74 Finally, an organization through which women could exert their leadership skills and promote reforms was the Young Women’s Christian Association, which was introduced in 1890 in China. It provided vocational trainings, boarding houses, recreations for students and prayer groups, attracting missionary schools’ students and government students, as well as working and urban women. It became a forum for discussions about social issues such as educational opportunities and the anti-footbinding movement, but it also served as a means of distributing various social services, especially among working and urban women.75

All these developments empowered women and are evidence of the gendered Protestant missionary movement, in contrast to the non-gendered Catholic one. Nonetheless, not every Protestant missionary effort was deliberate. One of the by-products of Protestant missionary activity was the training of Chinese women in medicine, because of the taboos of interaction between men and women, but also because of the lack of male doctors, which were too few for the total population. Some women even received formal education, ending up becoming doctors, such as Jin Yumei, Hu Jinying, who were trained in the United States. They were also the ones to propose reforms in the area of women’s health.76 This development comes to complete the range of by-product reforms instituted by the Catholic missionaries, in an effort to gain as many believers as possible, and which were discussed in the first section of this paper.

Of course, all these benefices of Christianity came with the missionaries. However, the latter came to China with a mindset of a superior race and culture that was going to “civilize” China and the Chinese. Although they made some concessions, so as to align themselves to the Chinese social norms and preserve their status in the land, as well as attract as many to the faith as possible, missionaries requested that the converts renounce at rituals of ancestral veneration. This would have cut off the converts from their families. In addition, many missionaries sought also to convert Chinese Christians to Western thought and ways, and this worked to tar their image, because of the imperialist policies of the Western countries. For these reasons, Christianity was seen with suspicion by Chinese authorities but also by Chinese people, as well. This is the reason why, despite all the financial and human effort that the churches put in, they could never attract a large number of converts.77 Thus, at least in the beginning, the reforms introduced and/or supported by Christian churches were looked upon with suspicion, especially by the elites, who considered some of these activities demeaning (e.g., physical education).78 However, many of the reforms sustained by the Protestants were also sustained by the Chinese elites, in the more general context of nationalism that was developing in the late Qing dynasty, especially after China’s defeat in the Sino-Japanese 1894-5. Physical education was seen as a means of strengthening the nation. The physical education of women was seen very favorably, as maintaining their health and helping in the conception of better children. Of course, this was tied in with the notion that women with bound feet could not exercise and thus were a major reason for the country’s lethargy.79

Thus, it is clear that the numerous reforms that Christianity helped promote did impact, in a positive way, the lives of Chinese women. Prominent among these were the Protestant missionary reforms, such as education and the anti-footbinding movement. It should be noted that, although Christian in origin, these movements and reform were many times started by Chinese, such as is the case of the anti-footbinding movement, started by a group of Chinese women. This further shows the leadership opportunities offered by Christian missions. However, it is also true that although the Protestant missionary movement was gendered and deliberately sought to empower and liberate women, it did not act outside of the major boundaries of society. Proof for this is the fact that it sought to remain the major boundaries of propriety and social norms, imposing sex segregation, and failing to challenge the patriarchal structure of society. Instead, it worked within it, opening avenues of opportunity for women, but never challenging the major gender roles (e.g., even in education, women were taught to be genteel, be good housewives etc.).


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Bays, Daniel H., and Grayson, James H. “Christianity in East Asia: China, Korea and Japan.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 8, World Christianities c. 1815-1914, edited by Sheridan Gilley and Brian Stanley, 493-512. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Dunch, Ryan. Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China 1857-1927. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Graham, Gael. “Exercising Control: Sports and Physical Education in American Protestant Mission Schools in China, 1880-1930.” Signs 20, no. 1 (1994): 23-48.

Fried, Morton H. “Reflections on Christianity in China.” American Ethnologist 14, no. 1 (1987): 94-106.

Kwok, Pui-Lan. Chinese Women and Christianity 1860-1927. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992.

Kwok, Pui-Lan. “Claiming our Heritage: Chinese Women and Christianity.” Internationally Bulletin of Missionary Research 16, no.4 (1992): 150-153.

Leung, Beatrice, and Wittberg, Patricia. “Catholic Religious Orders of Women in China: Adaptation and Power.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43, no. 1 (2004): 67-82.

Mackerras, Colin. China’s Ethnic Minorities and Globalization. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

Morris, Andrew. “’To Make the Four Hundred Million Move’: The Late Qing Dynasty Origins of Modern Chinese Sport and Physical Culture.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42, no. 4 (2000): 876-906.

Mungello, D.E. The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.

Mungello, D.E. The Spirit and the Flesh in Shandong. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2001.

Standaert, Nicolas. “Christianity Shaped by the Chinese.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 6, Reform and Expansion 1500-1660, edited by R. Po-Chia Hsia, 558-576. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Sweeten, Alan Richard. Christianity in Rural China: Conflict and Accommodation in Jiangxi Province, 1860-1900. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2001.

1.) Morton H. Fried, “Reflections on Christianity in China,” American Ethnologist 14, no. 1 (1987): 97.

2.) Nicolas Standaert, “Christianity Shaped by the Chinese.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 6, Reform and Expansion 1500-1660, edited by R. Po-Chia Hsia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007): 558. 

3.) Ibid., 559-61.

4.) Ibid., 562.

5.) Ibid., 566-8.

6.) Ibid., 572.

7.) Ibid., 571.

8.) Ibid., 568-70.

9.) Ibid., 572-3.

10.) Ibid., 568-70.

11.) Ibid., 574-5.

12.) Ibid., 573.

13.) D.E. Mungello. The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994): 34-5.

14.) D.E. Mungello. The Spirit and the Flesh in Shandong (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2001): 78-9, 115, 127-8).

15.) Ibid., 13.

16.) Ibid., 79.

17.) D.E. Mungello. The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994): 57.

18.) D.E. Mungello. The Spirit and the Flesh in Shandong (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2001): 12.

19.) Ibid., 79.

20.) Ibid., 114-5.

21.) D.E. Mungello. The Forgotten Christians of Hangzhou (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994): 61.

22.) Morton H. Fried, “Reflections on Christianity in China,” American Ethnologist 14, no. 1 (1987): 99.

23.) Nicolas Standaert, “Christianity Shaped by the Chinese.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 6, Reform and Expansion 1500-1660, edited by R. Po-Chia Hsia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007): 575.

24.) Daniel H. Bays, and James H. Grayson, “Christianity in East Asia: China, Korea and Japan.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 8, World Christianities c. 1815-1914, edited by Sheridan Gilley and Brian Stanley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 493.

25.) Ibid., 493-4.

26.) Ibid., 496.

27.) Ibid., 496.

28.) Ibid., 496.

29.) Ibid., 497.

30.) Ibid., 502.

31.) Alan Richard Sweeten, Christianity in Rural China: Conflict and Accommodation in Jiangxi Province, 1860-1900 (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2001).  

32.) Ibid., 33.

33.) Ibid., 34

34.) Ibid., 56, 60, 63.

35.) Ibid., 66-7.

36.) Ibid., 49.

37.) Ibid., 62.

38.) Ibid., 86-9.

39.) Ibid., 89-92.

40.) Ibid., 95-7.

41.) Ibid. 184-7.

42.) Ibid., 188-9.

43.) Ibid., 190.

44.) Beatrice Leung and Patricia Wittberg, “Catholic Religious Orders of Women in China: Adaptation and Power,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43, no. 1 (2004): 69-70.

45.) Alan Richard Sweeten, Christianity in Rural China: Conflict and Accommodation in Jiangxi Province, 1860-1900 (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2001): 195.

46.) Daniel H. Bays, and James H. Grayson, “Christianity in East Asia: China, Korea and Japan.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 8, World Christianities c. 1815-1914, edited by Sheridan Gilley and Brian Stanley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 494.

47.) Ibid., 496.

48.) Ibid., 497-9.

49.) Ibid., 500.

50.) Ibid., 501.

51.) Ryan Dunch, Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China 1857-1927 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001): 45.

52.) Ibid., 13.

53.) Pui-Lan Kwok, “Claiming our Heritage: Chinese Women and Christianity,” Internationally Bulletin of Missionary Research 16, no.4 (1992): 150. 

54.) Ryan Dunch, Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China 1857-1927 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001): 44.

55.) Gael Graham, “Exercising Control: Sports and Physical Education in American Protestant Mission Schools in China, 1880-1930,” Signs 20, no. 1 (1994): 29-31.

56.) Ibid., 37-9.

57.) Ryan Dunch, Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China 1857-1927 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001): 39.

58.) Ibid., 22.

59.) Ibid., 37.

60.) Ibid., 45.

61.) Ibid., 44.

62.) Ibid., 46-7.

63.) Ibid., 214n174.

64.) Ibid., 33.

65.) Ibid., 41.

66.) Ibid., 69-76.

67.) Ibid., 86.

68.) Ibid., 56.

70.) Kwok, Pui-Lan. Chinese Women and Christianity 1860-1927 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992): 44-56.

71.) Ibid., 68-71.

72.) Ibid., 83-5.

73.) Ibid., 110-4.

74.) Ibid., 121-2.

75.) Ibid., 126-9.

76.) Ibid., 116-20.

77.) Leona M. Anderson, and Pamela Dickey Young, ed. Women and Religious Traditions (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2004): 129.

78.) Gael Graham, “Exercising Control: Sports and Physical Education in American Protestant Mission Schools in China, 1880-1930,” Signs 20, no. 1 (1994): 36.

79.) Andrew Morris, “’To Make the Four Hundred Million Move’: The Late Qing Dynasty Origins of Modern Chinese Sport and Physical Culture,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42, no. 4 (2000): 883-4.

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