Women in China: "Concubines"

Essay by afghanroseCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2004

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Though we may see it as wrong, concubines have been apart of the Chinese culture for centuries. Many people do not understand what the life of a concubine was like, but one can assure that it was not very pleasant, but considered quite normal when it first started. On the contrary, laws in China have changed, greatly affecting concubinage in China. The history of concubines in China has long been a growing issue.

A concubine was a woman that had been shifted from her own family, to another family. A women can become a concubine due to multiple reasons; "Parents might be tricked, desperate, or greedy". They may even choose to be a concubine themselves for lack of better alternatives. Chinese women were dishonored as men were acclaimed. All that a woman could aspire to was wifeliness, motherhood, and devotion and respect to parents and family. In Chinese culture, it was the height of embarrassment to remain single; if it took being a concubine to be somewhat respected, it was taken.

Concubines were accepted less important significant wives in a household. When entering the home of her master, a concubine became the servant of his mother, as well as subject to authority of his superior concubines and wife. Though the idea of concubinage sounds odd, most concubines did not see their position as out of the ordinary. Usually, a man who has taken a concubine into his household was about in his middle ages. For instance, if a Chinese man is bored of his wife after several years, he would bring in a concubine. Sexually intimacy would be involved as well, where they came in as maids and were private courtesans. Concubines were not always brought home for self enjoyment. One case in the article talks about a brother...