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Ideology and Sexuality: Rape Laws in Qing China

Vivien W. Ng
The Journal of Asian Studies
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Feb., 1987), pp. 57-70
DOI: 10.2307/2056666
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2056666
Page Count: 14
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Ideology and Sexuality: Rape Laws in Qing China
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Abstract

The author of this essay discusses Qing rape legislation in terms of the dynamics of ideology and sexuality. The Qing government actively sponsored the renewal of Cheng-Zhu Neo-Confucianism, an ideology noted for its straitlaced view of sexuality. The government employed a number of means to promote Neo-Confucian values, and the Qing Code was deemed a potent tool for social engineering. Through the vehicle of the rape laws, sexual behavior that violated the strict rules of Neo-Confucianism was rendered criminal and violators were severely punished. The redefinition of forcible rape of women, for example, practically mandated women to die in defense of their chastity; to do less was not only unbecoming of "good" women, but also criminal. The homosexual male rape substatute not only addressed the crime of rape, but it also felonized consensual sodomy between adults. Female sexuality and male homosexuality were put on trial.

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