Confucian Transformation Of Women Essay, Research Paper
Korea adopted Confucianism as the guiding principle for reform with the founding of the Chos?n Dynasty in 1392. For women in Korean society, this meant virtual doom. The Chos?n period is considered to be the dark age for women’s culture and women in general. The philosophy of Confucianism considered the relationship between man and woman to be the root of all human relations. The union between man and woman is regarded to be the foundation of human morality. In Confucianism, there is a h ierarchical order between man and woman that is cosmologically sanctioned. This order must be maintained for the proper functioning of the human order and society. To accomplish this, human passions had to be kept in check. Thus, Confucianism drew a cl ear distinction between the woman’s domestic sphere and the man’s public sphere. To Confucianist, the law of nature gave women an inferior and subordinate position in all aspects of life.
During the Chos?n period, women were bound to a low and inferior social standing. Social status was governed by various means such as namjon yobi (superiority of man over woman), samjong (three obediences), and ch’ilgo (seven g rounds for dismissal). The three obediences of woman stated that before marriage, the woman was to obey her father; after marriage, the woman was to obey her husband; and lastly, after the death of her husband, the woman was to obey her son. Thus, accor ding to the ways of samjong, a woman was not allowed to make her own decisions at any point in her life. The seven injunctions of chilgo listed the means in which a daughter-in-law or wife could be disowned. Woman could be dismissed if the y showed any of these seven behaviors: (1) disobedience to the parents-in-law (2) not being able to bear a male son (3) adultery (4) jealousy (5) having an incurable disease (6) talkativeness and (7) stealing.
Confucianism, during the time of the Chos?n Dynasty, meant a rigorous regimentation of Korean women. Women only had status and authority in the “inner” or domestic spheres of society. Confucian ideology called for specific behaviors for women. Ob edience was regarded as one of the highest virtues of women. Women were honored or dishonored according to how perfectly they carried out their roles of being a virtuous wife, obedient daughter-in-law, or chaste widow.