Tag Archives: Confucius and women

Women and servants

子曰:「唯女子與小人為難養也!近之則不孫,遠之則怨。」
Confucius said: “Women and servants are difficult to deal with: if you get too close to them, they become disrespectful; if you get too distant, they resent it.”

There has been a lot of debate among commentators over whether Confucius is directing this comment at women in general or referring to the specific challenges of managing the female members of a large household. Continue reading Women and servants

An unhappy lot

子曰:「上好禮,則民易使也。」
Confucius said: “When their rulers love the rites, the people respond readily when they are called on for service.”

In common with other ancient Chinese thinkers, Confucius had a top-down view of how society should be governed. If the ruling classes adhered to the correct ethical principles and customs, the people would automatically follow them. Continue reading An unhappy lot

May Heaven punish me!

Nanzi

子見南子,子路不說。夫子矢之曰:「予所否者,天厭之!天厭之!」
Confucius went to see Nanzi (the concubine of Duke Ling of Wei). Zilu was not happy. Confucius swore: “If I have done wrong, may Heaven punish me! May Heaven punish me!”

You only have to glance at the portrayals of the notorious Qing Dynasty Dowager Empress Cixi and Tang Dynasty Empress Wu Zetian to realize that powerful women do not enjoy the most, er, wholesome of reputations in Chinese history. Both are accused not only of quite incredible feats of promiscuity but also of using their feminine wiles to seduce innocent men in their insatiable lust for power and riches. Continue reading May Heaven punish me!