Mock Chinese Wedding; Learning Across Cultures at Fairfield

Submitted by Genevieve Bleidner '13 on April 22, 2010

Fairfield University hosted a mock Chinese Wedding on March 29 from 5-7 p.m. in the BCC lower level to a large audience of nearly 100 Fairfield students. The event was presented as part of a project related to the course “Women in China and Japan,” and was intended to:

  • Use what was learned in the class to show how marriage as an institution redistributes power in social relationships and redefines gender relations in various stages of Chinese society
  • Expose Fairfield students to just one of the many exciting and interesting cultural differences between America and China
  • Enrich students and aid their understanding of China
  • Provide a great opportunity to see that learning is not just in the classroom
  • Raise awareness that intellectual engagement can go hand-in-hand with everyday life activism
  • Promote cultural awareness and social justice here on campus, and such activities can be fun and attract people’s attention

Two weddings were performed, both a traditional and a revolutionary, to demonstrate what marriage means in Chinese society. The two separate weddings were intended to show that the foundation of marriage in China has changed over time. For the traditional wedding, the performers staged a negotiation between the families of the bride and groom before the wedding ceremony. In traditional Chinese society, marriage was the union of two families, not just the two people who were getting married. Marriage was a way to gain social and economic power. Next came the revolutionary wedding, which demonstrated that during Mao’s China, social class was the most important concern of marriage and the wedding.

The weddings were significant for viewers who were not aware of the implications marriage has had for Chinese women and also for the families of those who are wed. Through the ceremonies, audience members became more aware of the relationship of power and gender relations in this society.

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