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Empress Wu: Females Breaking Barriers

  • Date Submitted: 09/04/2015 04:05 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 59 
  • Words: 575
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"Many people who seek great power have a little bit of monster in their makeup. Those who are drawn to power and believe themselves competent to wield it but are excluded by custom and prejudice, as all women were in traditional China, sometimes will become more monstrous as they thrust themselves forward." (Empress Wu)
The passage above describes Empress Wu's efforts to seize and hold power in the imperial household (during the late 7th century, early 8th). Most people who are drawn to power have a "monster in their makeup", but for Empress Wu it was more monstrous because she had to break the custom and prejudice barriers. Because she was a woman, she took the extra effort to obtain power even if it meant violating the rule to achieve it. Yet this drive for power made her kill her own children. She smothered her infant daughter to get rid of the other two empresses and killed her two sons because they were a threat to her power. She held on to her power in the face of widespread prejudice. Her efforts to satisfy her own appetite for power in the face of these prejudices lead her to commit some of these monstrous deeds she was accused of. The custom and prejudice not only goes for females, but for commoners as well. Empress Wu broke this barrier by allowing commoners to obtain high offices in government through examination. She made sure no high minister could develop a secure base of power to oppose her. Her reign lasted around 618 (5th century) during the Tang Dynasty. There was lots of prosperity during this time where foreign ideas were assimilating into China.  
In the government, there were male prejudices against active female participation in government. People always thought the worst the about a woman who did not know her place. There are cases when Empress Wu had to be behind a screen to listen to the political affairs where the ministers pretend that a woman was not in charge. She built a substantial power base for herself and presented herself as...


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