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A Desexualized Pirate in Yuan Yung-Lun's Ching Hai-Fen Chi: Analysis of Ching Yih Saou's Body and Gender from a Perspective of Butlerian Theory
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 6, Issue 6, November 2018, Pages: 83-93
Received: Nov. 14, 2018; Accepted: Dec. 6, 2018; Published: Jan. 14, 2019
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Yoriko Ishida, National Institute of Technology, Oshima College, Yamaguchi, Japan
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When the ethical view for women in Confucianism is typified by the principle that “three follow the road,” there is no wonder that men’s predominance of women should be regarded as obligatory in China. The stereotype that women have to be barred from official society and kept imprisoned in their homes has thoroughly penetrated the country. However, Chinese women have presented the impression that they are powerful. The most striking examples are Lü Zhi, Wu Zetian, and Empress Dowager Cixi, who wielded their authority over the country as empresses after their husbands’ deaths. Considering that they are real figures in Chinese history, the fact of powerful women in China cannot be altogether impossible. Now there is a contradiction that some autocratic empresses, without parallel in the world, have existed in the history of a country that has always valued the ideology of women’s subjection to men. An opinion should be that “the differences called sexual difference cannot be applied to all men and women. Rather, this difference is meaningful only when comparing the nature of men and women as groups, that is, at the statistical level,” and the same can be applied to the way Chinese women live. It should be understood that not all women in China were oppressed and that some of them could hold the reins of power, depending on their ages and status. Focusing on maritime history especially reveals the limitations of the stereotype that Chinese women were supposed to be driven out of official roles and oppressed in homes. Take, for example, the pirates who were active on the South China coast, where some communities had members who lived their whole lives aboard ships without landing. Ching Yih Saou the most famous female pirate in Chinese maritime history, was active from the end of the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century. The aim of this paper is very innovative. Judith Butler, in forwarding a different position from sex–gender dualism, argues that human beings can exhibit the characteristics of men and women without reference to physical difference. This paper adopts Butler’s theory and reveals that Ching Yih Saou is a picture of it. First, this paper follows up on her activities in Yuan Yung-lun's Ching hai-fen chi as a primary source and then deconstructs sexual identities of masculinity or femininity by considering Ching Yih Saou’s life as an example of Butler’s theory.
Ching Yih Saou, Chinese Pirates, Women Pirates, Judith Butler, Gender, Sex, Sexual Difference
To cite this article
Yoriko Ishida, A Desexualized Pirate in Yuan Yung-Lun's Ching Hai-Fen Chi: Analysis of Ching Yih Saou's Body and Gender from a Perspective of Butlerian Theory, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 6, No. 6, 2018, pp. 83-93. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20180606.11
Copyright © 2018 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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