Although the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) plans to introduce a series of reforms on criteria for the position of Sacrificial Official to Confucius to allow women to fill the role, the Awakening Foundation still criticized the planned rule as sexist.
Current regulations stipulate that only the eldest male descendent in Confucius’ lineage may serve as Sacrificial Official to Confucius — an official title created by the Republic of China government in 1935 and paid for by the government.
“After Confucius’ 77th generation descendent, the late Sacrificial Official to Confucius, Kung Teh-cheng [孔德成] passed away last October, we felt it was about time to make some changes to the regulations,” the MOI’s deputy director of civil affairs Lin Ching-chi (林清淇), told the Taipei Times. “We’re planning to allow female descendents of Confucius to take the position if there’s no male descendant in the family.”
Lin added that aside from the absence of a male descendant, another condition for a female to serve as Sacrificial Official to Confucius would be that her eldest child must inherit the family name Kung.
Another planned change to the regulations is to make the title honorary rather than a paid one, he said.
“The reform plans are yet to be submitted to the Cabinet for review,” Lin said.
The Awakening Foundation, on the other hand, panned the plan for treating women only as “backup tires.”
“Based on the principle of gender equality, all descendants of Confucius should be qualified to serve as Sacrificial Official to Confucius,” Awakening Foundation official Chao Wen-chin (趙文瑾) said. “After all, Confucius only taught that seniority — not gender — is important.”
She said that since Kung Teh-cheng’s eldest son is also dead, “[his] eldest daughter, not his eldest grandson, should inherit the office.”
“For a daughter in the Kung family to only be allowed to take the office when she is the only child in the family, it’s like the government endorsing the idea that a woman is the last resort,” Chao said.
In response, Lin said he was not opposed to the idea of gender equality, but “centuries-old tradition should be respected.”
“We received a lot of protest e-mails from the Kung family when we decided to allow women to become Sacrificial Officials to Confucius because they think only men should hold the position,” he said.
“Maybe the system will be reformed again when the idea [of having women as Sacrificial Official to Confucius] is acceptable to everyone,” Lin said.