Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2017

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

John K. Nelson


Contemporary feminism and its emergence in the early 20th century may seem like a recent phenomenon; however, the idea of feminism has been evolving over the centuries and what may be called a “proto-feminism” could be found in one of China’s classical literary masterpieces, known as the Daodejing. Classical Chinese philosophy has influenced and helped shape what feminism is today in China. For this project, I analyzed the use of language in the Daodejing to demonstrate the feminine imagery throughout the text. Secondly, the characters having significance for feminist interpretations for the Dao and Yin-Yang were deconstructed and analyzed in order to go into more depth on the meaning. Thirdly, Confucianism and Daoism were compared in order to provide more context and to show how they differ from each other. Lastly, I will use contemporary feminist figures—such as Li Ruzhen, Qiu Jin, and the “Beijing Five”—as examples to show how Daoism was a precursor to and how it helped shape feminism into what it is today in China.


I wish to present my special thanks to Professor Mark T. Miller (Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Associate Director of the St. Ignatius Institute), Professor John K. Nelson (Academic Director and Professor of East Asian religions in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies), Mark Mir (Archivist & Resource Coordinator, Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History), Professor David Kim (Associate Professor of Philosophy and Program Director), John Ostermiller (M.A. in Asia Pacific Studies/MAPS Program Peer-Tutor), and my classmates in the MAPS Program at the University of San Francisco for helping me with my research and providing valuable advice. Your patience and help are wholeheartedly appreciated!