Ancient Chinese women have no autonomy at all for their marriage. Men and women combined are entirely dependent on their parents decisions. After women married they have no right to divorce. What ancient Chinese call is marrying a chicken as a chicken marrying a dog as a dog. Where the needle goes the thread follows. Womens fate is in the hands of Gods only. Even though a woman lives in suffering after they are married and she does not like her husband anymore the woman cannot make the divorce.
This is particularly strict after the Tang Dynasty. Even if a womans husband is dead and she is young and had no child the woman is not allowed to remarry neither legally nor morally. The woman has to remain a widow for her husband for the lifetime and she will live in loneliness and helpless for the rest of her life. In ancient China although there are remarry it is very rare.
On the other hand the husband can literally use any reason to put forward divorce to their wives because there is a rule called Seven QU (Seven Conditions). The idea of Seven Qu comes from a book called Fiji which is one of the Confucianism classical documents. In the book it mentioned that a husband could file a divorce when his wives match one of the seven conditions. These seven conditions are no child no respect obscene jealous sick gossipy and stealing.
In the fact men have more choice in marriage and women are forced to accept the reality. Only a matter of gossipy and a little jealous which are insignificant deficiencies is enough to be a reason that a husband to abandon his wife. However the husband can go whoring keep concubines and abuse their wife. None of them can be a reason that the wife can make the divorce. It was so unfair and so unequal but was an unalterable principle for more than a thousand year in Chinese history.
Of course the most common example of male superiority to female is the prevalence of polygamy. Before large-scale of modern Western civilization impacted the East polygamy has been very common. Most of the rich and powerful people had multiple wives and piles of children. All the fallen emperors in Chinese history had hundreds or thousands of concubines. Unfortunately these pathetic women became mens plaything or a tool for bearing children. These women sacrificed their freedom dignity and happiness and then they were imprisoned in the imperial harem or large mansion houses. Moreover the women rarely could see their husband and they were not free to go out. Also they have been very strict restricted to visit their parents and relatives. In the book Dream of the Red Chamber has mentioned that because of too many concubines the husband worried they had an affair with other men. The husband came up all kinds of reasons and ways to imprison and torture concubines.
In 1950 Marriage Law of the Peoples Republic of China repealed the feudal marriage system. With an abolition of arrange marriage men are superior to women and disregard the interests of children. This law implements freedom of marriage monogamy and equality of rights between men and women. Also it protects the legitimate interests of women.
This marriage law smashed the chains that bounded Chinese women for thousands of years. The majority of women have been liberated from the brutal feudal marriage system. On the other hand this marriage law is a major change point of Chinese family and marriage. Chinese women finally in the aspect of personal relationships distribution of property and inheritance achieve the same status as men do.
In one of Mao Zedongs book that he wrote The womens liberation a new force suddenly rises. Women are neck and neck with men as the sun comes up in the east. For thousands of years women have made outstanding contributions to social development but the community did not reward them accordingly. After the founding of China the social status of women really set up. During the Great Cultural Revolution women need to play an important in the society. Mao said Women hold up half of the sky and want women contribute their wisdom in the socialist revolution and construction.
During the post-Mao period the most all of the women were able to choose their husband by their independent choice but the quality of marriage was a major problem. A major focus of womens marriage quality is domestic violence. In China domestic violence has universality and randomness. The main cause of domestic violence is feudal ideology. During this period of China women were forced to bend to their husband because unequal family status and low education level.
Womens political status is a major tool to measure womens status in society and the number of women participates in politics is an indicator the status of women in politics.
During the Confucianism era ancient Chinese rulers not only refused to admit women and men have equal rights but also protected the unequal relationship by using feudal ritual and laws. Every dynasty had published books and rules about what women should do. One of the representative books is Lessons for Women which outlines the four virtues a woman must abide by proper virtue proper speech proper countenance and proper conduct (Thomas). The book described the status and position of women in society and was intended to guide women in society. It is a small book and many women had the sections memorized. Women were Strictly tied in the Three Obediences and Four Virtues. Throughout the legal system women had no dominant position in the legal system. It was even harder to find womens interests were presented and protected by laws. Under this circumstance the Chinese women had no political rights at all and no to mention ruling a country.
Since Mao came to power the fights for women in politics have made progress but very little. New China abolished all the law that discriminates and against women and gives women equal legal status with men.