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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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Prologue: A Compromised Widow Sacrifices Her Body to Defend Inner Virtue

Prologue: A Compromised Widow Sacrifices Her Body to Defend Inner Virtue

(p.120) (p.121) Prologue: A Compromised Widow Sacrifices Her Body to Defend Inner Virtue
Disgraceful Matters

Janet M. Theiss

University of California Press

One day in the eighth month of 1753, a sixteen-sui-old boy named Du Ming made the daylong journey from his home in the Xiuyan District of Fengtian Prefecture in Manchuria to the village of the local constable to report that his mother had been raped the night before by a stranger who broke into their house while they were sleeping. Widowed the year before, Du Ming's mother, Du Song Shi, aged thirty-three, lived alone with her three sons in an isolated thatched house on the road to Xiuyan Town. From the perspective of the judicial officials who tried the case, her vindication was not a foregone conclusion. Having sought the state's intervention, Du Song Shi subjected herself to the intense scrutiny and moral judgment of powerful men whose sympathy was not guaranteed. To them, her life and the circumstances of her violation bristled with contradictory moral messages.

Keywords:   rape, Du Ming, Du Song Shi, Xiuyan District, judicial officials

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