“The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” by Kuan-Chung Essay
Updated: Jun 12th, 2020
Chinese masculinity is an issue that has been considerably challenged in time by a variety of cultural, social, and political factors. Many people try to introduce their own ideas and suggestions on how it is necessary to define masculinity in China and to use the concepts of wen and wu like a powerful combination of biology and culture. As soon as the idea of Chinese masculinity is proved to be a binary opposition between mental and physical characteristics with the help of wen and wu ideologies, it is necessary to remember a part of the Javanese ideologies and compare male power and control with female behaviour and expectations.
Current paper aims at discussing masculinity and femininity in Chinese culture on the examples of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Kuan-Chung and Javanese ideologies as a possibility to comprehend the roles of the two genders, their peculiar features, and the impacts on each other in regards to the power, abilities, and control that can be gained within a family.
According to the Chinese paradigm, masculinity may be defined as “the binary opposition between wen, the mental or civil, and wu, the physical or martial” (Louie 2002, p.10). These two notions can be hardly called conflicting. They seem to be more complementary because the masculine ideal is a kind of cultural construction characterised by constant circulation of morals, responsibilities, and duties that have to be performed by a man; still, the role of the mental beginning remains to be more important in comparison to the physical beginning. Of course, such factors like an appropriate physical size, properly developed skills of a warrior, and even the required portion of brutality do define masculinity in China.
However, they are powerless in front of the necessity to be wise, have respect to everything around, and use the power of ancestors and the importance of the past to conquer the present and defend the future. The main characters from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms become good examples of masculinity regarding heroism and respect to the traditions as the main components of an image of a true man. They may not use their power, words, or possibilities, but they demonstrate how crucial their masculinity can be through their knowledge, attitude to the events, and relations with the people of both genders.
In comparison to the Chinese traditions and ideologies, the culture of Java proves that female and male statuses may differ considerably but do not influence society and people’s contributions to its development. Brenner explains that “in most Javanese families today, regardless of social class or occupation, the wife continues to manage household finances” because they perform the function to “voice the opinion that men are incompetent in managing money” (1995, p. 23).
However, even under these conditions, women may lose out a lot because a number of misunderstandings take place and women are not too wise and confident in their own powers to solve family problems and remain to be higher than their men are.
In general, the definition of masculinity and femininity in Java and China is a hard task because it is always difficult to compare physiological and mental characteristics. People have to be strong from all perspectives to become good examples for others. However, female and male roles are impossible to define clearly, and even the attention to the cultural aspect cannot solve the problems, both men and women face, developing interpersonal and social relations.
Brenner, SA 1995, ‘Why women rule the roost: Rethinking Javanese ideologies of gender and self-control’, in A Ong & M Peletz (eds.), Bewitching women, pious men gender and body politics in Southeast Asia, University of California Press, Berkley, pp. 19-50. Web.
Louie, K 2002, Theorizing Chinese masculinity: Society and gender in China, Cambridge University Press, New York. Web.
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