Added: May 13, 2006 – Last updated: December 8, 2018


Author: Janet Theiss

Title: Female Suicide, Subjectivity and the State in Eighteenth-Century China


Journal: Gender & History

Volume: 16

Issue: 3

Year: November 2004

Pages: 513-537

ISSN: 0953-5233 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1468-0424 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 18th Century | Asian History: Chinese History | Cases: Offenders / Guo Laogong, Zhang Si; Cases: Victims / Li Shi, Yang Yuan Shi; Offenders: Age and Gender / Male Adults; Prosecution: Laws / Qing Law; Types: Attempted Rape, Rape, Sexual Harassment; Victims: Age and Gender / Female Adolescents, Female Adults; Victims: Reactions / Suicide; Victims: Social Status / Married Women


Links: (Free Access)

EBSCOhost (Restricted Access)

Ingenta Connect (Restricted Access)

Wiley Online Library (Restricted Access)


Author: Janet M. Theiss, Department of History, University of


– »This article examines the social and political significance of female suicide in Qing Dynasty China and its implications for women's agency, feminine subjectivity and the state's interpretation of violence. Tracing the development of state and elite interpretations of the propriety of women's suicides, it situates the discourse on female suicide in the context of state efforts to control the definition and enactment of moralised violence and pervasive rhetoric about women's incapacity for moral agency. Demonstrating the problematic ethical and judicial status of suicides committed in the wake of a violation of chastity, in particular, it argues that such suicides represented a distinctively female definition of moral order and the role of violence within it.« (Source: Gender & History)

– »The 18th-century Qing legal code reflected the importance attached to female chastity by providing severe penalties for men deemed responsible for the suicides of women who believed that their chastity had been irreparably harmed by rape, attempted rape, or unwanted advances. Humiliation suicides were not impulsive acts. They were the women's declarations, made at deliberately chosen places and times, of the value they placed on their integrity.« (Source: Historical Abstracts)


  Suicide and feminine virtue in Qing Dynasty China (p. 515)
  The social context for humiliation suicides (p. 517)
  The state's approach to revenge (p. 522)
  Assessing the righteousness of female violence (p. 524)
  Suicide and female subjectivity (p. 526)
  Notes (p. 534)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of China / Qing dynasty | Law: Chinese law / Great Qing Legal Code | Sex and the law: Rape / Rape in China | Suicide: Suicide in China | Virtue: Chastity