Cultural Construction of Gender

The cultural aphorism "men rule the outside, women the inside" (nan zhu wai, nu zhu nei) highlights the Taiwanese world view of gender. Although the constitution abrogates this expectation by guaranteeing women equality with men (Chiang & Ku, 1985), a woman is expected to be a virtuous wife and good mother (xian qi liang mu), even if she is highly educated (Tzou, 1999). Constructed as mutually exclusive categories in the education curricula, femininity and masculinity are defined as attributes of biology and central to the harmonious and efficient functioning of the family. Women are expected to embody the strengths of "obedience,... reticence, [and] adaptability" (Lang, 1946, quoting Confucius) and to accept an image of themselves as less important than men.

While the idea of gender is inscribed with Confucian morality, beauty standards are drawn from the West.

As the culture of consumer capitalism penetrates the island, white skin, round eyes, high-bridged noses, oval-shaped faces, large breasts, slender bodies, and long legs have become symbols of female beauty and attractiveness. However, standards for men are less exacting. While to be tall is the "basic" preferred bodily feature for men, power and status counterbalance any deprecated physical characteristics.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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