Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Gender Role Attitudes and Their Psychological Effects on Chinese Youth

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Gender Role Attitudes and Their Psychological Effects on Chinese Youth

Article excerpt

In China, traditional Confucian thought prescribes a much lower status for women than for men, suggesting that women should always be subordinate to men-obeying fathers when young, husbands when married, and adult sons when widowed (Shu, 2004). After the People's Republic of China was established, three laws-the Electoral Act (1953), the Constitution (1954), and the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests (i992)-guaranteed women the same rights as men to vote and contest elections, work and get equal pay for equal work, and obtain education. Considering this background, it is appropriate that gender role attitudes are distinguished as traditional and nontraditional in China. Traditional gender role attitudes are associated with a belief in the superiority of men over women and consequently greater gender-based social discrimination, whereas nontraditional gender role attitudes are associated with egalitarianism, suggesting that both sexes are largely equal (Yang, Li, & Zhu, 2014).

Although the Communist Party has consistently promoted women's equality and enormous progress has been made toward empowering women, especially in urban areas (W. Liu, 2010), economic resource allocation policies in rural areas have usually remained androcentric. In rural areas, the patrilineal inheritance system (in which an individual's family membership is derived from and recorded through the father's lineage) and patrilocality (which instructs a married couple to reside either with or near the husband's parents) have aggravated gender inequality (Li, 2009). Married women are usually called chujianv, which means daughters who leave their original family to get married, and the proverb that a "married-off daughter is like poured-out water" remains prevalent in rural areas. According to Tang and Luo (2014), who conducted an investigation in rural areas from Gansu Province, married women's status lags far behind the national average level, men have pervasive power in families, and women do more domestic work. Further, Wen (2016) conducted research in the rural areas of Shanxi Province and showed that rural women have no right of inheritance. These differences imply that rural and urban areas vary greatly as living environments for gender equality. Therefore, I explored whether gender role attitudes differ between urban and rural residents, and whether they withstand migration to areas with predominantly different attitudes. Further, I explored how these people fare during this migration.

Literature Review and Development of Hypotheses

Theoretical explanations of gender role attitudes have their roots in either interest- or exposure-based approaches (Bolzendahl & Myers, 2004). According to interest-based approaches, support for gender role equality is premised on an expectation of profit from such equality; this approach is further validated by the consistently found research results that in many countries, including China, women tend to hold more egalitarian gender role attitudes than men do (A. Liu & Tong, 2014; Qiu, 2015; R. Wang, 2011; Zhang, 2006).

Exposure-based approaches argue that individuals develop or change their attitudes toward feminist issues when they encounter ideas and situations that resonate with feminist ideals. Due to the contrasting backgrounds in urban and rural China, these environments are important exposure situations that might influence gender role attitudes and have an interaction effect with gender. First, in China residents are labeled as rural or urban based on the housing registration system. Researchers have found that urbanhousing registered residents are more likely to have egalitarian attitudes, regardless of gender. However, only among urban residents have women been found to have significantly more egalitarian gender role attitudes than men; there has been no significant difference found between genders among rural residents, who exhibit equally low egalitarian attitudes (Feng & Xiao, 2014; Yang et al. …

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