Maoist Model Theatre: The Semiotics of Gender and Sexuality by Rosemary Roberts

By Rosemary Roberts

Here's a convincing mirrored image that adjustments our figuring out of gender in Maoist tradition, esp. for what critics from the Nineties onwards have termed its ‘erasure’ of gender and sexuality. particularly the powerful heroines of the yangbanxi, or ‘model works’ which ruled the Cultural Revolution interval, were obvious as genderless revolutionaries whose pictures have been destructive to ladies. Drawing on modern theories starting from literary and cultural reviews to sociology, this booklet demanding situations that confirmed view via unique semiotic research of theatrical structures of the yangbanxi together with gown, props, kinesics, and numerous audio and linguistic structures. Acknowledging the complicated interaction of conventional, smooth, chinese language and overseas gender ideologies as happen within the 'model works', it essentially adjustments our insights into gender in Maoist tradition.

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Additional resources for Maoist Model Theatre: The Semiotics of Gender and Sexuality in the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)

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62 See Yang, 1998, p. 41. 64 Returning to Meng statement, however, if we accept the proposition that female images did become signifiers of Party authority and authentic political identity (and it is true that conversely none of the villains in these works are females), the ‘double play’ derived from this is also problematic in gender terms because both ‘plays’ assume that this female image is an object that evokes sexual desire and thoughts of love, marriage and so on—but whose desire is it that is supposedly being evoked by these female images?

The yangbanxi heroines are described as “a group of monsters lacking normal female emotional needs and not pursuing normal female values . . ”73 Taken to this extreme, the ‘gender erasure’ argument, though valid in its criticism of the limited nature of Maoist heroines’ gender identities, nonetheless threatens to become an essentialist straightjacket that is just as constraining to women as the Cultural Revolution model that it condemns. While Meng Yue, Mayfair Mei-hui Yang and others have seen the ‘masculinisation’ of Maoist era heroines as damaging to women and their sense of gender identity, scholars including Bai Di and Chen Xiaomei have also identified positive outcomes for women.

Nor body, nor a gender-based perspective. (p. 134) Analysing the same characters, Bai Di makes a similar point: These women are heroes in the plays because they always represent political and ideological correctness. At the same time, these women are not women at all. They are stripped of all feminine traces, do not have families, are not wives and mothers, and more than anything else they are not sexual. . 67 This argument then assumes that it is only in the context of roles as mother, wife or lover (or daughter) that women can express gender identity.

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