The Golden Orchid Society


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Golden Orchid Society

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The Golden Orchid Society

  1. 1. The Golden Orchid Society Final Presentation Professor Lafont By: Vincent Chow
  2. 2. Ancient China’s culture <ul><li>Patrilinieal society </li></ul><ul><li>Men inherited family property, considered superior </li></ul><ul><li>Polygyny was accepted as norm </li></ul><ul><li>Women was oppressed </li></ul>
  3. 3. Women in 19 th century China <ul><li>Had arranged marriages where they did not meet future spouse until wedding </li></ul><ul><li>Regarded as property </li></ul><ul><li>Treated like servants </li></ul><ul><li>Expected to be subservient </li></ul>
  4. 4. Birth of Golden Orchid Society <ul><li>In 1800’s foreign silk production started to develop in Guangdong province of China </li></ul><ul><li>Offered employment opportunities to women </li></ul><ul><li>Women started to earn own income for self and families </li></ul><ul><li>Found other jobs such as servants, nannies </li></ul><ul><li>Viewed marriage as shameful and postponed arrange marriages and some even indefinitely </li></ul>
  5. 5. Avoiding heterosexual marriage <ul><li>Women that were involved in an arrange marriage would refuse to live in their husbands house </li></ul><ul><li>On the day of the wedding, refuse to have intercourse, and then will go back to her natal family </li></ul><ul><li>This woman is now considered lost to her husband, and which ensured her freedom because she is “unmarriageable” material </li></ul>
  6. 6. Golden Orchid Society <ul><li>Women formed Golden Orchid Society </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Started in late Qing dynasty around 1644 though it may have started earlier </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rich and poor women wanted to escape oppressive society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Took vows to never marry a man or they will commit suicide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Desired to marry women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Groups of women formed pacts and sisterhoods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sisters lived together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some members may form sexual relationships </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Alias <ul><li>This society was known by a couple of other names: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Heart to heart friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making Friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Association for mutual admiration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mutual Admiration Society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workmates society </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Changes In China <ul><li>With the boom in China’s economics, they started to use women in more advertisements </li></ul>
  9. 9. Marriage <ul><li>Courtship is similar to heterosexual couples </li></ul><ul><li>When a woman wanted to marry another woman she would give gifts such as peanut candy, honey dates, and tea to the one she was wooing, and the family </li></ul><ul><li>If family accepts, then there will be an engagement and a contract is drawn </li></ul>
  10. 10. Marriage <ul><li>The woman would wear traditional Chinese red gowns </li></ul><ul><li>They would change their hairstyle from long braids to buns to signify that they were married. </li></ul><ul><li>To the right is a picture of a married woman </li></ul>
  11. 11. Marriage <ul><li>Traditional marriages would have the bride to be in the carriage carrying to their partner’s house </li></ul><ul><li>They used red for that day because they believe it brings good luck </li></ul>
  12. 12. Family <ul><li>This same-sex couple can start a family </li></ul><ul><li>Adoption of abandoned/orphaned girls were allowed </li></ul><ul><li>The couple is devoted to one another and their child, and is accepted by their family </li></ul><ul><li>Their natal family would accept this same-sex marriage because fear of being publicly humiliated </li></ul>
  13. 13. Adoption <ul><li>This same-sex family can even adopt girls to pray for them when they die </li></ul><ul><li>These girls will have to take on the Golden Orchid Oath </li></ul><ul><li>They will inherit this same-sex couples properties </li></ul>
  14. 14. Consequences <ul><li>There were terrible punishments if one or both partners of this same-sex marriage was found to be unfaithful, changed their minds, or “turn their backs” on their partner </li></ul><ul><li>This partner would be beaten and publicly humiliated </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage and the Golden Orchid oath was not to be taken lightly </li></ul>
  15. 15. Religion <ul><li>Buddhism in ancient China was one of the prevalent religions </li></ul><ul><li>Reincarnation was believed and thought that a couple from a previous life could have reincarnated into 2 females </li></ul><ul><li>According to this belief, they are destined to be married to each other and therefore lesbianism was tolerated and accepted. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Current status <ul><li>Golden Orchid Society does not exist today </li></ul><ul><li>Members of the society are in their late 80’s-90’s and can be found in Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong </li></ul><ul><li>They fled Guangdong to other parts of China when rebels started to attach their association to overthrow Manchu Emperor in hopes of restoring the Ming Dynasty </li></ul>
  17. 17. Current Status <ul><li>In today’s society, Golden Orchid sisters to Chinese people means best friends, sisters that you would die for, and lost its association with lesbianism </li></ul>
  18. 18. What did I learn? <ul><li>Religion and the power of unity can overcome the most traditional of societies </li></ul><ul><li>Same-sex marriages were accepted in this patrilineal society </li></ul><ul><li>The “sisters” appointed their own descendants to take care of them, their graves, their ceremonial burial, and their estates when they die </li></ul>
  19. 19. References <ul><li>Heckethorn, Charles William. The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries. New York: Cosimo, 2005 (PP 132-134). </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  20. 20. References <ul><li>■ Ohana, R. The Golden Orchid Society. Available from: </li></ul><ul><li>Sullivan, Andrew. Same-sex Marriages Pro and Con: A Reader. New York: Vintage Books, 1997 (PP 24-26). </li></ul>