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Disgraceful MattersThe Politics of Chastity in Eighteenth-Century China$
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Janet Theiss

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520240339

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520240339.001.0001

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“Accommodating Sages”: Gender Separation in Social Practice

“Accommodating Sages”: Gender Separation in Social Practice

(p.154) Chapter 7 “Accommodating Sages”: Gender Separation in Social Practice
Disgraceful Matters

Janet M. Theiss

University of California Press

The “ethnographic” evidence provided by criminal cases confirms official perceptions of widespread transgressions of norms of gender separation. Even when meaningful spatial distinctions between inner and outer were possible, they were rarely interpreted in the rigid manner of the morality tracts: the seclusion of women was relative, not absolute. Yet customs of family and village sociability as they are depicted in case records typically appear to have sanctioned friendly, casual interactions and exchanges of conversation between relatives outside the immediate family and neighbors of villagers. Most assault and harassment victims were assailed not by strangers but by men that they knew, often neighbors or relatives. Expectations about gender etiquette varied from one community to the next and from person to person.

Keywords:   gender separation, morality tracts, women's seclusion, village sociability, sexual assault, gender etiquette

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