After 1989, the Chinese people resumed their political reserve--they knew once again they needed to keep their mouths shut about politics as they saw what could still happen to them. On the other hand, the state did not stop the open door policy, and, like other autocratic governments, it decided the best way to pacify the people was greater economic development---so that economically they would be better off and thank the government for it. People were encouraged to make money but not to comment on Communist Party policies. Many former political activists turned to money making. Political transparency stopped. Still, there was, to some extent, greater freedom of the press---though not in the form of criticizing the party. Political issues could now be touched on in the form of tabloid news (e.g., so-and-so has this much money because of embezzlement, and so on). Even so, there was certain news the media could not touch upon. And although individual party members could be exposed and condemned (see chapters 2 and 4 in Link's book), the Communist party itself could not be questioned or commented on, and its senior leadership could not be touched by the media if they were still in power.
23. Market Economy and Women
The issue of women and their status in Chinese society is not just about gender; it is also a reflection of the goals and values of Chinese society and the Chinese state. During the Cultural Revolution, Chinese women were told they held "half the sky," but in reality, they were not allowed to display their womanhood. The erasure of the social display of gender differences, for the Communist Party, was in line with their policy to put Communist rule before the individual and the family. Under such policies, paradoxes abounded. Almost all women went to work, yet women often held more lower-paid and less-professional jobs. Professional women looked down on housework, including child rearing, and they were justified by the Soviet leader Lenin's argument that housework was the work of the slave. The traditional praise of a woman as a "virtuous wife and good mother" has become an insult to the majority of urban girls, for whom the term is the equivalent of wearing an outdated piece of clothing that belonged to one's grandmother.
More and more men have started to do household chores as their wives go to work and ascend the job ladder, although regional variations exist. Arguably southern Chinese men do more household work than northern ones, and the men from Shanghai, the largest metropolis in China, have especially a reputation for taking over a significant portion of household work, while handling full time jobs. On the other hand, all over China, rural, low-income men seem to be the last to do household chores. To put this into perspective, in rural China arranged marriages are still often practiced, even though they became illegal under the 1950 marriage law. The urban/rural gap continues to be reflected not only in income distribution but also in the treatment of women.
Thirty-five years have passed since Mao sent the educated urban youth en masse to the countryside partly as a way to address the urban/rural divide. Today, the divide still exists, and in some regions it is worse than before, because some of the rural population has been adversely influenced by the growing market economy. In some regions the situation is better, partly because young people from the country migrate to the cities, take up temporary jobs, and send money back home. Young rural girls often serve as