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When Chinese women bound their daughters' feet, many consequences ensued, some beyond the imagination of the binders and the bound. The most obvious of these consequences was to impress upon a small child's body and mind that girls differed from boys, thus reproducing gender hierarchy. What is not obvious is why Chinese society should have evolved such a radical method of gender-marking. Footbinding cost little girls years of agony and left them partly crippled for life. This book asks why such drastic action, repeated with more and more girls over a millennium, made sense in the families that performed it; and how significant was girls' work in China's late imperial pre-industrial economy?