Modern Sexism and Modernization in the Thinking of Womanhood

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The history of the models of womanhood was darker than black. In the 19th century till the 20th century, numerous women in China were “foot-bound”, along with comparatively lesser literacy rate than the men of that time. This essay emphasizes the hardships of women in Shanghai, in the late 19th century along with the assessment of the characteristics of the modern girl. The aim of the essay is to learn how the role of printing media and electronic media helped in the promotion of the “modern girl” ideology.

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The conceptual frame work for the assumption of a modern girl can be the supposition of a girl who use to wear her skirts shorter and cut her hairs, smokes cigarettes, gets an education, goes to a movie with her boyfriends, and works in a department store or at an office. It a real challenge for the world to embrace and accept this “modern girl” ideology and indeed, it a dream of women in Shanghai in the 19th century and somehow up till now.


Modern sexism and modernization in the thinking of womanhood play a vital role in the ultimate characteristics of gender roles (Mechant, 2017). The study emphasized on the discussion of the next generation of courtesans that is the “Modern Girl”, which include the fundamental and conceptual grounds of women empowerment. There is always the discussion of modernization in the perspective of women but the concept of modern man is quite weak in this regards. It is because the variation between the modern feminine and the traditional feminine is way more than the modern man and the traditional man. Men were always able to access the public worlds of education, government, and the paid work, either as traditional men or modern men (Gluck & Patai, 2016). The models for the traditional womanhood were backed by the ideology that women must be chaste, modest, obedient, silent, and restricted particularly to the world of household management and to bring up the children. ?In Shanghai the new middle-class civilization, of the properties background used to enjoy the fictional stories and novels in late 1919. These stories and novels were published in the weekly magazines. “Confidence in the Game” is such kind of amusing and gossipy story, which gives the highlights of the Modern girl in “Shanghai”. In this story it is revealed that how a modern woman is expected to be treated and how her tones and mode of conductions are supposed to be. The passage below highlights some significant illustration of the concern.

“That’s easy enough,” said Sanxin, smiling. “I’ve had my eye on a pair costing four hundred fifty at a jeweler. Too bad I only have a couple hundred on hand right now, Wait until I scrape together an- other two hundred fifty. Will definitely get them for you to put on and show off.” (Zhou, 1922).

The role of print media was very appreciable in the context of the awareness regarding the sexism and women empowerment. The “Publishing houses” which were organized in the settlement of the International newspapers that are published and illustrated newspapers, used to publish several magazines along with the publication of textbooks and books. These publications possessed numerous translations from the “European Languages”. There was magazine named as the “Woman’s Magazine” which was full of advertisements and articles that were directly or indirectly related to the women empowerment and highlights the difference between the traditional women and the modern women. This reveals the modern interception and the advanced aspects of life which takes the charge for the vacuum cleaners to convert the idea to the telephones, then to the “women’s suffrage” and also to the “modern banking system”. Yuefenpai resulted in projecting the image of modern women by calendaring images of women and women abilities and gender roles. It helped the numerous women and men in assuming the character of a modern, new nuclear family, which is expected to be based on “love marriage” between the two well educated and equal sorts of partners. The idea behind this act was and is to replace the mentality of the tradition of the arranged marriages, which is a still-persistent tradition as well. It also opposes the ideology of considering females as the prostitutes and/or the subservience to the ultimate gender that is men. ?The film and radio were also not far behind in the struggle of empowering women and to embrace the theory of modernization of women. There was a great singer in the 1930’s, named as Zhou Xuan, in Shanghai, who used to sing songs for the sake of women empowerment and opposing sexism. The Film Production sector of China that is Shanghai tried its best to remove and overcome the culture of prostitution and to help the women in empowering the women (Feldshuh, 2018). The movies and films by the Shanghai’s film production produced such sort of movies in the late 19th century which helped in the reduction of sexism.


In a nutshell, the history of women in Shanghai is brutal and dark. It was a time when the women were objectified by men or rich women. “Modern women” in Shanghai is an appeal that allows the modernization of women. It has several aspects which are related to the opposition and resistance towards the modern sexism along with the acceptance of women to live freely, and independently. The theme of “modern women” was been propagated by the media industry of Shanghai, in 1920. Fictional stories, print media, electronic media, celebrities, artists played their role in order to improvise the lagging in the women status in Shanghai. They supported the ideology of “Modern Girl” of Shanghai by their professions. From 1920 till now, still there is need to provide awareness to the people about the dislocated status of men and women ion the civilized society, a woman is not just rising up the children, to run the household, and to be objectified. They are much more than just to be obedient and restricted.

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Modern Sexism and Modernization in the Thinking of Womanhood. (2021, Feb 20). Retrieved from