Footbinding - Freeze 1 The ancient practice of footbinding...

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Freeze 1 The ancient practice of footbinding began in the 10 th century and continued all the way until the early 20 th century. This practice of binding a young girl’s feet with tightly wrapped black cloth is said to have begun as a palace practice to mimic the sway, femininity, and small feet of the dancers who entertained the emperor. It spread from the palace into the country side and eventually became cultural custom throughout China. The traditional historical view of footbinding states that the practice was done to create an erotic, beautiful, and thus marriage worthy girl through her tiny feet. The feet stood as an erotic symbol as well as a way to create male dominance over women. A more revisionist view states that the footbinding was not only erotic, but brought a sense of pride and dominance to the women of China. Both views are present in today’s literature on footbinding. Beverly Jackson’s book The Splendid Slippers: A Thousand Years of Erotic Tradition, portrays the traditional view of footbinding, one of erotic pleasure, social status, and male domination. Jackson argues that this tradition of footbinding was used to create separation of the Manchu and the Chinese, to create a desirable bride through erotically and visually pleasing feet, and to show social status. She goes about this trough a traditional telling of footbinding history from its assumed beginnings until the practice was banned. 1 Jackson uses a narrative style using anecdotes and research to support the traditional views on the reasons behind footbinding. Jackson covers the process of footbinding, the creation of the slippers worn by the women with bound feet, and the deep extent to which this tradition ran, including men in the opera pretending to have bound feet when playing women. Jackson’s main focus, is the erotic pleasures behind the lotus feet. Jackson states that the crevice of the foot was particularly important and the sado-masochistic manner that these feet portrayed was particularly important as well. To Jackson, the tiny feet may have crippled the women in life but
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Freeze 2 it gave them sexual power. 2 The end of the footbinding was the ending of an era of power and dominance for the women of China. Jackson uses a social lens to show how footbinding was necessary for the advancement of women in the social world as well as the implications for those who could not or would not bind their feet. A majority of the sources used by Jackson are secondary sources since much of this book is based on traditional ideals of footbinding practices. This is very unoriginal and follows the widely known reasons for footbinding. There are very few if any primary sources used within the book, making it less original and more of a common history. Although this does not make the book any less valid, since many of the secondary sources that are used are well documented, it does cause it to merely be yet another book on the history of footbinding and brings little if
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course HIST 445/449 taught by Professor Roseling during the Spring '08 term at Truman State.

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Footbinding - Freeze 1 The ancient practice of footbinding...

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