This is yet another example of the ultimate loyalty

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This is yet another example of the ultimate loyalty women had to men. It was almost as if they felt lost without their husbands, and therefore could not live with out their orders and the need to please them. It is a wonder that so many women took their lives for men. It is also important to note how young these women were. Zhang Xiujie was only eighteen years old. Women felt a strong sense of loyalty to men early on in their lives, as that is what they had been taught. They had seen their mothers raise them in this way, and this was their way of life, loyalty to men. While reading these sources translated by Patricia Buckley Ebrey, it is important to keep in mind that these are fictional stories written by men themselves. They have written the text to portray exactly how they perceived their lives to be. This means that they could have easily put their own experiences and bias into the text, and this is not 5 Widows Loyal Unto Death, 253 6 Widows Loyal Unto Death, 254 5
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what life was like for all women in the Ming dynasty period. It is important to note that there were women who stayed single and lived with their families, and there were women who were confident and independent and stood up to their husbands. It is even noted in the story of “The Spite of Lotus,” “Now that she was the favorite, Lotus became more and more intent in having her own way.” 7 This shows that some women did feel the need to share their own opinions and try to fulfill their goals. But it was the majority of women in the Ming Dynasty who revolved their life around men, showing them loyalty, and the ultimate respect. The illustrations provided in “Concubines” and “Widows Loyal Unto Death” prove that women’s lives in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries revolved around men. The wives and concubines during this time had one main purpose in life, and that was to remain loyal and true to their husbands. With out the man in their life, women had virtually nothing. The men provided women with status, a home, food, and family life. This meant that women saw it as their priority to serve them in many different ways. They mainly provided this loyalty through showing affection, being attractive and submissive, and finally, taking their lives for the husband if he passed away as a sign of utmost respect. These actions and behaviors seem extreme and outrageous to the women of the twenty-first century today, but these were the proper gender roles during the Ming Dynasty long ago. 7 Concubines, 249 6
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