3/24/09

Outrageous

大清律例:

妻殴夫者杖一百,至死者斩决;
夫殴妻者减凡人二等,至死者绞候。

道光四年,四川某人怀疑妻子不忠,杀妻弃尸,只判杖六十徒一年。打死妻子比打死陌生人的罪名轻四等。

Outrageous.

4 comments:

mac said...

Outrageous to our modern sensibilities. But the interesting question is not "how could they?" but why was such a law implemented--what social circumstances would create and allow for such a code? And moreso, why was it accepted and perpetuated?

eyesopen said...

Mac---I'm happy you're commenting! They're surely interesting questions. Provided with adequate sources and skillful scholarship, I believe they can be answered in part, at least. I look forward to seeing how Jeff would work with these materials in 刑案彙覽 and make sense of them!

But I still have some faith in our "modern sensibilities", without which we would not bother to problematize gender and sexuality in history at all. We did feel outrageous (or somehow uneasy) upon reading these texts, and I think it's important NOT to let the habit of critically reflecting on our own modern bias trivialize these sensibilities. Hence the very brief note here to remind me of my first reaction to it.

mac said...

My point is that the sensibilities are not something we as moderns are born with, but rather are already existent in the modern age as a RESULT of the work of critical theorists and feminists on things like gender and sexuality. Thus, the danger is looking at a different society of different past and social organization with the critiques of our own society. There are more than a few works that do this, and which strike me more as an exercise of self congratulations, whereas a book like Sommer's undertakes a more critical view of the society and people under investigation on their own terms.

mac said...

p.s. sorry not to be commenting in Chinese, but my writing has gone to pot.