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date: 23 April 2024


The Oxford Encyclopedia Women in World History
C. Fred BlakeC. Fred Blake

For a thousand years foot‐binding was a common custom in China. The feet of tender‐aged girls were bent and tightly wrapped to shape and shrink them according to prevailing historical and regional styles. The operation induced protracted suffering and was accomplished at the behest of the girls’ mothers. In early adolescence girls took over the lifelong discipline of keeping their feet small and perpetually secluded in special shoes, which they personally made and embroidered with emblems of feminine virtue, merit, and desire. The overt purpose of the custom was to make women seem pliable, respectable, and marriageable, and thus pleasing to men. More subtly, the show of charmed deference masked the inner strength to endure pain and suffering.... ...

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