In 1934 Liu Jihua, a classically trained feminist at Yanjing University, published an article on the history of the concept of chastity in China. Meticulously documented and lavishly illustrated with quotations from the classics (beginning with the Book of Changes), her long essay argued that, by the Qing dynasty, female chastity had “become a religion” (zongjiaohua): a prescriptive norm accepted as a matter of faith by most men and women.

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