Nüzi Shijie

The Magazine

Nüzi shijie 女子世界 (Women’s World) was published in Shanghai between 1904 and 1907 by the Women’s World Society of Changshu (常熟女子世界社) under the editorship of Ding Chuwo 丁初我 (1871-1930), a scholar and educator from Changshu, Jiangsu. It began as a monthly journal in January 1904. In its first year, the journal reached more than forty distributors, most of which were concentrated in the Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang areas. However, it also circulated to other provinces including Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Shandong, and the capital Beijing and has a rough print run of more than 550.

The Nüzi shijie provides an important window into crucial issues concerning women and gender relations in the rapidly changing Late Qing society. The main editors and writers for the journal consist of progressive young men active in the immediate post-1898 reform period who promoted the development of women’s education and women’s rights as vital measures for China’s national salvation. In their support for women’s education, they were outspoken critics of footbinding and advocates of freedom of marriage; some of them were involved in teaching or administering women’s schools. Many of their views are reflected in the editorials and other columns in the Nüzi shijie.

The journal also solicited contributions from women. Those who responded appear to be new-style educators, students, and readers, and they wrote chiefly poems and essays. However, a trend among male writers in the early twentieth century was to use female pseudonyms to publish their writings in women’s magazines. A prominent example is the young Zhou Zuoren 周作人 (1885-1967). Adopting several female pseudonyms, Zhou regularly contributed his own stories as well as translated ones to the Fiction column in Nüzi shijie.

When Ding Chuwo co-founded the science journal Lixue zazhi (理學雜誌) in Dec. 1906, he gave up his editorship of Nüzi shijie. The last issue, published in 1907, was edited by Chen Yiyi 陳以益 (courtesy name Zhiqun 志群, 1889-1962), who studied abroad in Japan and was closely allied with Qiu Jin秋瑾 (1875-1907) in trying to set up women’s journals in the last two years of her life before she was executed by the Qing for plotting an anti-dynastic rebellion. Perhaps because Chen was already a writer for Nüzi shijie – using the penname Zhiqun, the journal’s contents remained on the whole unchanged in the one and only issue published under his editorship even though he declared an editorial break with the former Nüzi shijie.