A socialist superwoman for the new era: Chinese television and the changing ideals of femininity
2019-05-21T11:00:01Z (GMT) by
This paper examines changing representations of women in Chinese television dramas since the early 1990s and interprets them within a framework of global socialist media cultures, considering both domestic developments and transnational trends. Drawing on the analysis of three selected dramas, it traces the trajectory of televised femininity from exemplary socialist worker-citizens devoted to family and community, to more individualized middle-class urbanites. It is tempting to see this transformation as an outcome of China’s integration into the global capitalist economy, the attendant retreat of the party-state from the private realm, and the infusion of Western cultural gender ideals. Yet this interpretation downplays important continuities, and misses intriguing parallels with TV dramas produced in socialist Eastern Europe. The argument pays particular attention to the enduring appeal of the socialist-style superwoman who shoulders the double burden of a professional career and unpaid domestic work while also acting as a discerning citizen-consumer.