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The Exclusion of Chinese Women, 1870-1943 Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 30th, 2020

There was a considerable income of Chinese labor immigrants to the United States between the years of 1860 and 1960. Although they came for financial prosperity, better life, and freedom, the pursuit of happiness unexpectedly took the form of exclusion, resulting in the Chinese women shortage and exclusion.

The article by Sucheng Chan “The Exclusion of Chinese Women, 1870-1943” represents the position of a Chinese woman in the United States thereat. Traditionally, men immigrated alone leaving their wives in China as the cost of supporting them was too expensive, and only the poorest women were working as prostitutes or servants. However, a family could often send daughters to brothels because it was the only way to survive sometimes. At the same time, the problem of unemployment was widespread among men, too, as their job consists of miners or builders. Thousands of Chinese aid to build the transcontinental railroad, their disposition to work energetically seven days a week, from early morning to sunset impressed almost everyone. That is why one may state that American Chinese females are American by soil (Railton 58).

The Chinese female immigrants of the nineteenth century had to face extreme forms of prejudice. Hune claims that “attacks on Chinese and Japanese women’s sexuality form the ideological background for the legal exclusion of Asian women in the late nineteenth century” (98). The Page Law prohibited the entry of Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian contract workers in order to prevent prostitution and felony. Like other persons of non-European ancestry, they were not eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens until the second half of the twentieth century. The exclusion law included a number of amendments, each of them added more restrictions and closed loopholes (Zhao 242). The fact that Chinese females could not speak English complicated the situation even more, states Hayes (760).

In doing her research, Chan discovered some attempts of eradicating prostitution and felony that were undertaken, among the others “An Act to prevent Kidnapping and Importation of Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese females for criminal or demoralizing purposes,” legislated in 1870 (Chan 98). Chinese scholar Hirata in her article “Free, Indentured, Enslaved: Chinese Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century America” describes that “some lawyers colluded with the Chinese importers in obtaining habeas corpus decrees to allow the landing of Chinese women headed for the brothels” (11).

Evaluating mentioned articles one may terminate that Chan and Hirata present a systematic description of what actually happened to Chinese woman throughout her development. They use a historical method of the research procedure to prove their point of view. Speaking of the article critique, the first thing worth turning one’s attention to is that the authors mention plenty adequate sources. The second advantage is the presence of illustrative material such as tables, diagrams, and statistic material. Therefore, articles include some proved data and statistics organized in tables making the information accurate and trustworthy.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that in those articles, both authors pointed out the main ideas, changes, and institutions that were connected to the dramatic Chinese woman destiny in the United States before World War II. Consequently, one may conclude that the goal desired by the authors was achieved because they provided a reader with the useful and comprehensible information and illustrated all the difficulties of Chinese immigrant females during the century.

Personally, I consider that articles reveal an important message for everyone. The terrible period of the Chinese woman expulsion in the United States was full of despair and broken lives. Fortunately, the nowadays situation is different. I strongly believe that we should not perceive anyone with prejudice according to one’s age, race, or nationality because, as Thomas Jefferson declared, all men are created equal.

Works Cited

Chan, Sucheng. “The Exclusion of Chinese Women, 1870-1943.” Chinese Immigrants and American Law. Ed. Charles McClain. New York: Hachette, 2012. 93-147. Print.

Hayes, Patrick. The Making of Modern Immigration an Encyclopedia of People and Ideas. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2012. Print.

Hirata, Lucie Cheng. “Free, Indentured, Enslaved: Chinese Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century America.” Signs 5.1 (1979): 3-29. Web.

Hune, Shirley, and Gail Nomura. Asian/Pacific Islander American Women: A Historical Anthology. New York: New York UP, 2013. Print.

Railton, Benjamin. The Chinese Exclusion Act. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.

Zhao, Xiaojian, and Edward Park. Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood, 2013. Print.

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