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Beautiful and Bad Women: Media Feminism and The Politics of Its Construction in Taiwan
Unformatted Document Text:  17 In terms of Taiwanese women’s movement, mainstream accounts usually trace the second wave women’s movement in Taiwan to 1982 when Lee Yuan-chen found the Awakening group and published Awakening magazine as a strategy to spread feminism in times of political unrest and strict censorship. Awakening magazine put a lot of emphasis on women’s consciousness-raising, particularly on awakening women to their independent self. In addition, grounded in liberal feminism, the Awakening group aimed for legal reforms, including the reformation of civil law, and sought to guarantee women’s rights in the workplace. Lacking a critique of how heterosexuality structures inequality in every sphere of women’s social existence, this liberal rhetoric of independence and equality in the workplace intersects with magazines’ need to sell products to women with consuming power, usually working women. Because women’s magazines depend mostly on income from advertisements, and commercial products for women are closely linked to the culture of heterosexuality, heterosexuality becomes an unbreakable rule in women’s magazines. The complicity of liberal feminism with the institution of heterosexuality enabled women’s magazines to talk about feminism in a men-friendly manner. In discussing feminism and feminist issues, women’s magazines always invite male celebrities to join the discussion. In these male-friendly forums created for feminism, to launch a systematic critique of the institution of compulsory heterosexuality becomes almost impossible. Advertising Magazine calls the ‘90s “Women’s Age.” Because of the increasing consuming power most women gained as a result of joining the workplace, the majority of advertisements and credit cards in the ‘90s were targeted at women consumers. At the same time, international women’s magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire all landed in Taiwan, competing for female consumer’s pocket money. These international magazines target their readers at those 20-35 year-old, college-educated, single, urban women with the strongest consuming power. Hence, in the ‘90s, the issues covered in ‘80s magazines such as domestic division of labor and awakening to independence largely disappeared from women’s magazines. Instead, it is the articulation of individualism and consumerism that comes to define feminism in women’s magazines. Women’s individuality is mostly expressed in ads. Popular feminism at this time emphasizes the new woman to be a “love yourself, confident, and pleasure-seeking subject of consumption and production.” The Nike’s ads in the ‘90s women’s magazines all reflect this ideology of woman power and consumerism. Moreover, women’s magazines, Cosmopolitan in particular, often use a discourse of sexual pleasure to talk about women’s autonomy and individuality; they also use a rhetoric of woman power and sexual pleasure to sell sexual paraphernalia such as underwear and cosmetics to women. The ‘90s media

Authors: Yang, Fangchih.
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17
In terms of Taiwanese women’s movement, mainstream accounts usually trace
the second wave women’s movement in Taiwan to 1982 when Lee Yuan-chen found
the Awakening group and published Awakening magazine as a strategy to spread
feminism in times of political unrest and strict censorship. Awakening magazine put
a lot of emphasis on women’s consciousness-raising, particularly on awakening
women to their independent self. In addition, grounded in liberal feminism, the
Awakening group aimed for legal reforms, including the reformation of civil law, and
sought to guarantee women’s rights in the workplace. Lacking a critique of how
heterosexuality structures inequality in every sphere of women’s social existence, this
liberal rhetoric of independence and equality in the workplace intersects with
magazines’ need to sell products to women with consuming power, usually working
women. Because women’s magazines depend mostly on income from advertisements,
and commercial products for women are closely linked to the culture of
heterosexuality, heterosexuality becomes an unbreakable rule in women’s magazines.
The complicity of liberal feminism with the institution of heterosexuality enabled
women’s magazines to talk about feminism in a men-friendly manner. In discussing
feminism and feminist issues, women’s magazines always invite male celebrities to
join the discussion. In these male-friendly forums created for feminism, to launch a
systematic critique of the institution of compulsory heterosexuality becomes almost
impossible.
Advertising Magazine calls the ‘90s “Women’s Age.” Because of the increasing
consuming power most women gained as a result of joining the workplace, the
majority of advertisements and credit cards in the ‘90s were targeted at women
consumers. At the same time, international women’s magazines such as
Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire all landed in Taiwan, competing for female
consumer’s pocket money. These international magazines target their readers at
those 20-35 year-old, college-educated, single, urban women with the strongest
consuming power. Hence, in the ‘90s, the issues covered in ‘80s magazines such as
domestic division of labor and awakening to independence largely disappeared from
women’s magazines. Instead, it is the articulation of individualism and consumerism
that comes to define feminism in women’s magazines. Women’s individuality is
mostly expressed in ads. Popular feminism at this time emphasizes the new woman to
be a “love yourself, confident, and pleasure-seeking subject of consumption and
production.” The Nike’s ads in the ‘90s women’s magazines all reflect this ideology
of woman power and consumerism. Moreover, women’s magazines, Cosmopolitan
in particular, often use a discourse of sexual pleasure to talk about women’s autonomy
and individuality; they also use a rhetoric of woman power and sexual pleasure to sell
sexual paraphernalia such as underwear and cosmetics to women. The ‘90s media


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