Strong Legendary and Real Heroes: Counterbalancing beliefs about womens place is the historic veneration of some powerful, albeit exceptional, women. Stories of warrior women such as Hua Mulan and various militant Ninja types appear regularly in classical Chinese fiction. In Japan, samurai women appear, like Tomoe Gozen who supposedly rode into battle alongside her husband during Gempei Wars, or Hojo Masako (1157-1225), wife of Japans first shogun, who directed armies and in effect ruled the Shogunate from the convent where she had retired after her husbands death. Later, bands of women armed with the exclusively female sword called naginata, were called upon to defend their towns or castles. Japanese girls today still learn to use this long sword.
In the Song dynasty (960-1279 C.E), a reinterpretation of Confucian teaching called NeoConfucianism stratified the position of women even more. Augmented by ideas of wife fidelity and husband worship brought by the Mongols, NeoConfucian beliefs led to the egregious practices of footbinding, insistence on widow chastity, and the selling of unwanted daughters. Although footbinding illustrates the perceived need to limit female mobility, the practice did not appear until the Song Dynasty and was not universally followed. Women of most ethnic minorities, including Hakka and Manchu women, did not practice it, nor did some peasants who had to work in the fields, nor did women in Japan.