Footbinding and Women's Labor in Sichuan
By Hill Gates
Routledge – 2014 – 192 pages
When Chinese women bound their daughters’ feet, many consequences ensued, some beyond the imagination of the binders and the bound. The most obvious of these consequences was to impress upon a small child’s body and mind that girls differed from boys, thus reproducing gender hierarchy. What is not obvious is why Chinese society should have evolved such a radical method of gender-marking. Footbinding cost little girls years of agony and left them partly crippled for life. This book asks why such drastic action, repeated with more and more girls over a millennium, made sense in the families that performed it; and how significant was girls’ work in China’s late imperial pre-industrial economy?
1. Footbinding and Girls’ Labor in China’s Political Economy 2. Erotic Attraction, The Mother-in-law, State Mandates 3. Patchworking Sichuan Women’s History across 150 Years 4. Variation in Ten Counties 5. The Argument from Hypergamy 6. The Light Labor Hypothesis 7. Hypergendering across the Old World
Hill Gates is a retired lecturer and Professor Emerita at the Department of Anthropological Sciences, Stanford University, USA.