Radical 38

Radical 38 or radical woman (女部) meaning "woman" or "female" is one of the 31 Kangxi radicals (214 radicals total) composed of three strokes.

← 37 Radical 38 (U+2F25) 39 →
(U+5973) "woman, female"
Gwoyeu Romatzyh:neu
Cantonese Yale:néuih
Japanese Kana:ジョ jo (on'yomi)
おんな onna (kun'yomi)
Sino-Korean:녀 (여) nyeo
Chinese name(s):(Left) 女字旁 nǚzìpáng
(Bottom) 女字底 nǚzìdǐ
Japanese name(s):女偏/おんなへん onnahen
Hangul:계집 gyejip
Stroke order animation

In the Kangxi Dictionary, there are 681 characters (out of 49,030) to be found under this radical.

is also the 56th indexing component in the Table of Indexing Chinese Character Components predominantly adopted by Simplified Chinese dictionaries published in mainland China.


Derived charactersEdit

Strokes Characters
+3 奿 SC (=妝) SC (=婦) SC (=媽) SC (=婁)
+4 JP SC (=嫵) SC (=嫗) SC (=媯)
+5 JP/variant (=妒) 妿 JP (=姊) SC/variant (=姍)
+6 (=姦) (alsp JP form of 姬) (=妍) 姿 SC (=婭) SC (=嬈) SC (=嬌) SC (=孌)
+7 JP (=娛) SC (=娛) SC (=媧) SC (=嫺)
+8 娿 (= -> ) (= -> 鹿) SC (=嫿) SC (=嬰) SC (=嬋) SC (=嬸)
+9 婿 SC (=媼) (=婕) SC (=嬃)
+10 媿 SC (=嬡) SC (=嬪)
+11 SC (=嬙)
+12 嫿
+13 JP (=孃)
+16 (= -> ) 嬿

Controversies over sexismEdit

Some feminists have claimed that many Chinese characters under radical woman are pejorative, (slave), (demon), (JP: , envy), (Simp.: , rape, traitor), (dislike) for example, and learning and using them may unconsciously lead to misogyny.[1] Some have even proposed a reform of these characters.[2]

In 2010, a mainland Chinese male lawyer posted an essay online, in which he criticized 16 Chinese characters for their sexist implication. The 16 characters were (, entertainment), (to play with, usually classified under radical 126 ), (greedy), (envy), (envy), (dislike), (flattery), (presumptuous), (demon), (slave), (prostitute), (whore), (, rape, traitor), (extramarital sex), (bitch), and (to visit prostitutes). He also proposed a reform of some characters, e.g. replace with a newly created Chinese character "犭行" (: dog, usually associated with monsters or uncivilized actions. : behaviors. The proposed character therefore implies rape is a monstrous behavior.), believing that the change would reduce rape cases.[3] Opponents argued that the new characters were historically unsound; that even if they were adopted, they would remain specious and would not effectively improve female's social status. They also pointed out that improvements in legal and social culture aspects were the actual remedy of sexism.[3][4]

In 2015, an exhibition in Beijing entitled "姦: Cultural Codes of Gender Violence" (姦:性別暴力伤害的文化符号) organized by 65 artists was canceled by the authority. Still, the idea of this exhibition made its way through international media outlets. Tong Yujie (佟玉洁), the exhibition's academic convener, questioned in her writing: "Why did one woman become three, and such a symbol of political and moral imagination and an object of enmity in traditional Chinese society and political theory?"[5]

In addition, some Chinese characters under radical woman which appear to be positive are also thought to have sexist implication. Examples include (ān, safe, steady; "woman" under "roof"; This character is usualy classified under radical 40 "roof") and (hǎo, good; "woman" + "child(ren)"). Critics argue that implies that it is only safe/steady when women are at home, and implies it is only good when women have their children.[1]

A 2014 study done by Wang Yuping from Anhui University's School of Chinese Language and Literature analyzed all Chinese characters under radical woman in a concise edition of Hanyu Da Cidian (汉语大词典简编). The result shows that among these characters, there are 56 with negative meaning, 70 with positive meaning, and 184 are neutral. Nonetheless, the author believed all the three categories suggested a strong discrimination and prejudice against female in traditional Chinese culture.[6]

Similar controversies also exist in "gendered" European languages which have divisions between masculine and feminine terms. This phenomenon is called linguistic sexism.


  • Fazzioli, Edoardo (1987). Chinese calligraphy : from pictograph to ideogram : the history of 214 essential Chinese/Japanese characters. calligraphy by Rebecca Hon Ko. New York, 1987: Abbeville Press. ISBN 0-89659-774-1.CS1 maint: location (link)
  • Lunde, Ken (Jan 5, 2009). "Appendix J: Japanese Character Sets" (PDF). CJKV Information Processing: Chinese, Japanese, Korean & Vietnamese Computing (Second ed.). Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly Media. ISBN 978-0-596-51447-1.


  1. ^ a b 邱慕天 (2018-09-10). "漢字歧視女性 《經濟學人》認應重新造字" [Chinese characters are sexist. The Economist proposed a reform of Chinese characters] (in Chinese). 台灣醒報.
  2. ^ 黄玉顺 (1994-03-04). "汉字里的性别歧视" [Sexism in Chinese characters]. 中国儒学网 (in Chinese).
  3. ^ a b "律师认为16个汉字歧视女性 建议奸改为犭行" [Lawyer pointed out 16 sexist Chinese characters, proposed replacing 奸 with 犭行] (in Chinese). 现代快报. 2010-01-21 – via 新浪新闻.
  4. ^ 程俊 (2010-01-22). ""奸"改为"犭行"可减少强奸犯罪为何很傻很天真" [Why it is naive to think replacing "奸" with "犭行" would reduce rape] (in Chinese). 联合早报.
  5. ^ Didi Kirsten Tatlow (2015-12-02). "Enduring Prejudices of Gender Woven Into Chinese Language". The New York Times.
  6. ^ 汪宇平 (2014). "浅谈汉语中的女部字与中国文化的性别歧视" [A Brief Discussion Chinese Characters under Radical Woman and Gender Discrimination in Chinese Culture]. 安徽文学 (in Chinese) (372): 16–17.

External linksEdit