Women also showed affection to men by pursuing and

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Women also showed affection to men by pursuing and chasing them as well. If there was a man that a woman knew she was meant to be with, she would find her way to him. In the story of “How Dong Xiaowan Became My Concubine” in the chapter “Concubines,” the man of the story goes away on a trip and Dong Xiaowan insists that she go with him. He says, “… I asked her to go back, but she was firm in her desire to follow me.” 2 This quote from the man shows that even though he did not expect her to follow him on this trip, Dong Xiaowan thought it was right to follow him. She thought it would benefit her in the future to follow this man and see what would come of it. Luckily, because she followed this womanly gender role of loyalty, she became this 1 Concubines, 252 2 Concubines, 247 2
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man’s concubine in the end of the story. This goes to show that the following and pursuing of a man did benefit the women of the Ming dynasty. Similar to showing affection to a husband, women were expected to look physically attractive to men in multiple ways. For example, the feet were very important to men. They had to be small, showing the high class of a woman. Being eye-catching was the way of finding and gaining a man’s attention in a woman’s life. It was important to a man for his wives and concubines to be attractive; therefore, women made it a priority to look their best for men. In fact, the concubines were even sold based on their physical appearance to the wealthy men who could afford them. In the story of “The Thin Horse Market” in “Concubines,” it is noted that “After each of her short commands, the woman bows to the customer, walks forward, turns toward the light so the customer can see her face clearly, draws back her sleeves to show him her hands, glances shyly at him to show him her eyes, says her age so he can hear her voice, and finally lifts her skirt to reveal whether her feet are bound.” 3 This statement shows that women are not valued for the person they are, rather what they look like from the outside. If a man could buy a concubine by just seeing her hands, eyes, and feet, it is clear that he was only interested in what she looks like. This also shows that all aspects of relationships during the Ming dynasty were based around men. The personality, values, and morals of a woman were not even taken into consideration. The women during the Ming dynasty were like prized possessions of their husbands. This is how the gender roles worked, women revolved around men, trying to please them in every way.
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