Small feet were considered as a sign of beauty and nobility in China during the Tang dynasty. As a result, a cultural practice called “Footbinding” was widely practiced during this era. It was a practice whereby the feet were soaked in a mixture of animal blood to soften them. Then, the toenails were cut back to prevent infections. After that, the toes were twisted downward toward the bottom of the foot, shattering the bones. The broken toes were then tightly bound with cotton strips, preventing them from healing properly. Over the next few months or years, the process would be repeated every few weeks with the aim of making the feet as small as possible. Consequently, it was a very painful process for girls and resulted in broken and deformed feet. It also caused a lot of infections.

During the Tang dynasty, women had little chance of marrying into nobility if they did not have bound feet. Therefore, women were forced to follow this patriarchal practice if they wanted to get married off. Footbinding was a rite of passage for young girls, and one that put them in position of subordination to men by creating further divide between the sexes. This terribly patriarchal practice was banned during the Qing dynasty but it continued to be practiced by most families. It was after the establishment of communist rule in China that the practice was finally done away with, as CCP believed in equality and egalitarianism at each level in the society.

Footbinding has been compared to other patriarchal practices imposed on women to exert control, including wearing corsets and female genital mutilation. It was one of the major and most recurring aspects of the deeply patriarchal traditions that existed in the Chinese society and has also been increasingly important in Chinese feminist historiography.