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Beautiful and Bad Women: Media Feminism and The Politics of Its Construction in Taiwan
Unformatted Document Text:  20 political ideas is transformed into a set of attitudes and personal lifestyle, in turn, is defined by appearance, by job, by marital status and by personality, not by political belief or political practice” (1996:209). When feminist politics is conflated with lifestyle, the focus of feminist activism is shifted to the notion of choice. To choose to be a feminist or not has come to mean whether a woman wants to adopt the lifestyle that a feminist is supposed to have, not feminist politics or practices. Moreover, this media feminism disallows the acknowledgement and reflection of multiple forms of differences and interlocking oppression. Sexual difference is the only form of difference that media feminism engages with. Differences that have fueled many debates within academic feminisms, such as class, race, and nationality (as a result of imperialism) cannot (co)exist within the format of commercial women’s magazines. To invoke these differences would not only complicate the good/bad dichotomy that magazines rely on for articulating a consumeristic, commodity feminism, it would also forces us to look at structural inequality and exploitation among women globally. Because the notion of sexual difference is easily emptied of its political meanings and be seen as natural biological difference, it can be easily packaged and sold to privileged women around the world. This choice feminism, in emphasizing sexual difference, easily resolves the conflicts between sameness and difference as political practices articulated in feminism by allowing women to choose whatever they prefer. VI. Money, Sex and Power I want to come back to the image of Taiwanese feminist, Xiao-hung Zhang, as the representative of the beautiful-and-bad-woman feminism in Bazzar in the beginning of this paper. This feminist identity is constructed through the ideology of “money, sex and power.” Zhang’ Armani feminism emphasizes the androgynous ambiguity a woman obtains in wearing Armani. However, this disruption of gender boundaries requires the consumption of extremely expensive international name-brand fashion. The feminism Zhang is made to represent echoes Rita Felski’s analysis of “money, sex and power” genre. Felski points out that the genre of “money, sex and power” novel always uses a beautiful and sexy woman as the protagonist and describes how she consumes men and name-brand commodities, and through which, she also achieves her career success. In connecting women’s power through her consuming practices, this genre subverts society’s devaluation and denigration traditionally attached to women and consumption. Women’s skills in consumption hence become essential in her economic success. The imperative of the cultural industry in late capitalism helps create a society that highlights images, styles, signs, and surface; and

Authors: Yang, Fangchih.
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political ideas is transformed into a set of attitudes and personal lifestyle, in turn, is
defined by appearance, by job, by marital status and by personality, not by political
belief or political practice” (1996:209). When feminist politics is conflated with
lifestyle, the focus of feminist activism is shifted to the notion of choice. To choose
to be a feminist or not has come to mean whether a woman wants to adopt the
lifestyle that a feminist is supposed to have, not feminist politics or practices.
Moreover, this media feminism disallows the acknowledgement and reflection of
multiple forms of differences and interlocking oppression. Sexual difference is the
only form of difference that media feminism engages with. Differences that have
fueled many debates within academic feminisms, such as class, race, and nationality
(as a result of imperialism) cannot (co)exist within the format of commercial women’s
magazines. To invoke these differences would not only complicate the good/bad
dichotomy that magazines rely on for articulating a consumeristic, commodity
feminism, it would also forces us to look at structural inequality and exploitation
among women globally. Because the notion of sexual difference is easily emptied of
its political meanings and be seen as natural biological difference, it can be easily
packaged and sold to privileged women around the world. This choice feminism, in
emphasizing sexual difference, easily resolves the conflicts between sameness and
difference as political practices articulated in feminism by allowing women to choose
whatever they prefer.
VI. Money, Sex and Power
I want to come back to the image of Taiwanese feminist, Xiao-hung Zhang, as the
representative of the beautiful-and-bad-woman feminism in Bazzar in the beginning
of this paper. This feminist identity is constructed through the ideology of “money,
sex and power.” Zhang’ Armani feminism emphasizes the androgynous ambiguity a
woman obtains in wearing Armani. However, this disruption of gender boundaries
requires the consumption of extremely expensive international name-brand fashion.
The feminism Zhang is made to represent echoes Rita Felski’s analysis of “money,
sex and power” genre. Felski points out that the genre of “money, sex and power”
novel always uses a beautiful and sexy woman as the protagonist and describes how
she consumes men and name-brand commodities, and through which, she also
achieves her career success. In connecting women’s power through her consuming
practices, this genre subverts society’s devaluation and denigration traditionally
attached to women and consumption. Women’s skills in consumption hence become
essential in her economic success. The imperative of the cultural industry in late
capitalism helps create a society that highlights images, styles, signs, and surface; and


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