Dr. Julianne Malveaux Scholarship Requirements:
: January1st through March 1st
In China, the concept of gender difference appears visually in the male/female aspects of the yin/yang Taoist symbol. The dark swirl within the symbols circle is the passive, yielding, feminine yin; the light swirl the active, aggressive, male yang. Neither principle is considered subordinate to the other; each complements the other and is capable of expressing both female and male characteristics. Within Taoism, then, women were able to seek spiritual fulfillment beyond their family duties. Some joined convents, others gathered with men to discuss philosophy and religion, a few became Taoist adepts.
: January 1st through March 1st
Ancient Chinas highest goddess, Hsi Huang Mu (Queen Mother of the West), found in the classic tale Journey to the West, also expresses aspects of yin/yang beliefs. As yin, this goddess is compassionate, promising immortality; as yang, she is a force who had the power to disrupt the cosmic yin/yang harmony. This pervasive fear that women could bring chaos by upsetting the cosmic harmony was an obstacle for women who aspired to male political leadership. Those who succeeded were accused of breaking one of natures laws, of becoming like a hen crowing. Years after her reign, this derogatory term was applied to Chinas only female emperor, (Tang dynasty, 625-705 C.E.).
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Strong Legendary and Real Heroes: Counterbalancing beliefs about womens place is the historic veneration of some powerful, albeit exceptional, women. Stories of warrior women such as Hua Mulan and various militant Ninja types appear regularly in classical Chinese fiction. In Japan, samurai women appear, like Tomoe Gozen who supposedly rode into battle alongside her husband during Gempei Wars, or Hojo Masako (1157-1225), wife of Japans first shogun, who directed armies and in effect ruled the Shogunate from the convent where she had retired after her husbands death. Later, bands of women armed with the exclusively female sword called naginata, were called upon to defend their towns or castles. Japanese girls today still learn to use this long sword.