This distortion [on the part of the Twentieth-Century scholars] conveys the impression that the Chinese gender system was built upon coercion and brute oppression, which, in my view, ascribes to it at once too much and too little power. The strength of resilience of the gender system—as it unfolded in history, not on pages of codes of conduct—should be attributed to the considerable range of flexibilities that women from various classes, regions, and age groups enjoyed in practice. … The complex and ambivalent existence of women in the Confucian tradition can be illuminated only when the propensity to treat ‘Confucianism’ as an abstract creed or a static control mechanism is discarded. The Confucian tradition is not a monolithic and fixed system of values and practices. … Contrary to the popular perception that gender relations belong to the feudal backwaters, my contention is that they constitute the most enabling aspect of Chinese tradition. The contestations over the meaning of modernity today would be more meaningful if tradition were being re-imagined as a series of trade-offs, and both its strengths and weaknesses were being confronted seriously. If Chinese modernity cannot be defined as the negation of tradition, then the unusual historical moment we have witnessed–the seventeenth century–is instructive in showing how tradition can be harnessed to further untraditional goals, and how women can be incorpoerated into new ways of imagining national and local communities. In these ways, the ‘teachers of the inner chambers’ still have much to teach the Chinese nation today.

_______Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China

The woman I need to call my mother was silenced before I was born.

_____Adrienne Rich


Thanks to the confined space allowed for their activities, perfect women can appear more perfect than perfect men, while villainous women can be more thoroughly villainous than villainous men.


_____Eileen Chang, On Women

The Bourgeois limitations in feminist theory are clearly demonstrated by its difficulty in dealing with prostitution, which is interpreted solely in outworn terms of victimization. That is, feminists profess solidarity with the “sex workers” themselves but denounce prostitution as a system of male exploitation and enslavement. I protest this trivilizing of the world’s oldest profession. I respect and honor the prostitute, ruler of the sexual realm, which men must pay to enter. In reducing prostitutes to pitiable charity cases in need of their help, middle-class feminists are guilty of arrogance, conceit, and prudery. …It is a progressive feminism that embraces and celebrates all historical depictions of women, including the most luridly pornographic. It wants mythology without sentimentality and every archetype, from mother to witch and whore, without censorship. It accepts and welcomes the testimony of men.

_____Camille Paglia, Vamps and Tramps

Feminists often compare marriage to slavery–with the female as slave. It seems like an insult to women’s intelligence to suggest that marriage is female slavery when we know it is 25 million American females who read an average of twenty romance novels per month, often with the fantasy of marriage. Are feminists suggesting that 25 million American women have “enslavement” fantasies because they fantasize marriage?

____Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are The Disposable Sex

This passion of the signifier then becomes a new dimension of the human condition, in that it is not only man who speaks, but in man and through man that it speaks. … The phallus is the privileged signifier of that mark where the share of the logos is wedded to the advent of desire.

____Jacques Lacan, Feminine Sexuality