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Beautiful and Bad Women: Media Feminism and The Politics of Its Construction in Taiwan
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Beautiful-and-Bad Women: Media Feminism and The Politics of Its Construction in Taiwan 1 Office Chronicle (3): A woman’s sexy figure is the best tool to trap a good job and money, and it is very difficult for men to unwind the trap! We live in new times now. [Prominent feminists] Shi Ji-qing and Chiu Zhang now shop at their designated sex stores. Ever since [feminist] He Chuen-riu proclaims sexual autonomy for women, we have liberated ourselves from sex and love. If we can satisfy ourselves sexually and at the same time obtain our dream castle from men just by taking off our clothes, why waste our beautiful bodies? (The Beautiful-and-Bad Woman’s Key to Success, 43) From shampoo commercials to national best-sellers, newspapers, and women’s magazines, the image of a beautiful-and-bad woman has been celebrated as the spokeswoman of the new feminism in the twenty-first century in Taiwan. This new woman, when invoked, frequently refers to women’s movements or popular feminist figures. In doing so, popular media also construct what feminism is and is not. However, in defining what feminism is, popular media tend to construct a singular notion of feminism which emphasizes beauty, sexuality, and consumption, thereby limiting the political aspects of feminism to the personal and reducing the heterogeneity of women’s movements. This paper is an attempt to use the image of the new “feminist”—the beautiful-and-bad woman—to explore how feminism gets defined in popular media in Taiwan and the power relationships involved in this construction of a particular version of feminism, hence, feminist identity. The image of a beautiful-and-bad woman is constructed through an “allochronistic” discourse. That is, the beautiful-and-bad woman positions herself at the end point of a linear time zone, and claims herself to represent the modern and the new, while at the same time constructing an “old-fashioned,” “traditional” other located at the beginning the time zone. Examples such as “We the modern women have walked past the feminist age, and have now come to a new era of gender equality” abound in popular media (United Daily News 1999/12/28). However, when the media claim this old-fashioned feminist other to be “our” past and tradition, they also construct the history of Taiwanese feminism. Interrogating this kind of popular historiographic discourses is necessary for the writing of history is always “an act in 1 All the translations from Chinese resources are mine.

Authors: Yang, Fangchih.
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background image
1
Beautiful-and-Bad Women:
Media Feminism and The Politics of Its Construction in Taiwan
1
Office Chronicle (3): A woman’s sexy figure is the best tool to trap a good job
and money, and it is very difficult for men to unwind the trap! We live in new
times now. [Prominent feminists] Shi Ji-qing and Chiu Zhang now shop at their
designated sex stores. Ever since [feminist] He Chuen-riu proclaims sexual
autonomy for women, we have liberated ourselves from sex and love. If we can
satisfy ourselves sexually and at the same time obtain our dream castle from
men just by taking off our clothes, why waste our beautiful bodies? (The
Beautiful-and-Bad Woman’s Key to Success, 43)
From shampoo commercials to national best-sellers, newspapers, and women’s
magazines, the image of a beautiful-and-bad woman has been celebrated as the
spokeswoman of the new feminism in the twenty-first century in Taiwan. This new
woman, when invoked, frequently refers to women’s movements or popular feminist
figures. In doing so, popular media also construct what feminism is and is not.
However, in defining what feminism is, popular media tend to construct a singular
notion of feminism which emphasizes beauty, sexuality, and consumption, thereby
limiting the political aspects of feminism to the personal and reducing the
heterogeneity of women’s movements. This paper is an attempt to use the image of
the new “feminist”—the beautiful-and-bad woman—to explore how feminism gets
defined in popular media in Taiwan and the power relationships involved in this
construction of a particular version of feminism, hence, feminist identity.
The image of a beautiful-and-bad woman is constructed through an
“allochronistic” discourse. That is, the beautiful-and-bad woman positions herself at
the end point of a linear time zone, and claims herself to represent the modern and the
new, while at the same time constructing an “old-fashioned,” “traditional” other
located at the beginning the time zone. Examples such as “We the modern women
have walked past the feminist age, and have now come to a new era of gender
equality” abound in popular media (United Daily News 1999/12/28). However, when
the media claim this old-fashioned feminist other to be “our” past and tradition, they
also construct the history of Taiwanese feminism. Interrogating this kind of popular
historiographic discourses is necessary for the writing of history is always “an act in
1
All the translations from Chinese resources are mine.


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