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Politics of Hair and Gender Described in <Xiaojie(小街)>

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2009, (14), pp.165-180
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2009..14.008
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture

배연희 1

1숙명여자대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This article examines the political rhetoric meaning of hair and gender described in Chinese movie, <Xiaojie(小街, 1981)>. In the movie, political suppression upon women was expressed through a common process of women’s hair gotten damaged. Its concrete contents and meanings are as follows. <Xiaojie> is a movie that deals with political suppression in the Cultural Revolution period. The movie develops as a man who has become blind tells a director a story about a woman he met in the Cultural Revolution period. Her mother was branded as a rightist during the period, so she had to go through various hardships like getting her hair cut forcibly because her family was the Right. She cut her hair short to protect herself from the world and disguised herself as a man. One day, she ran into a man. Later the man came to know about her wound and stole a wig to help her realize her dream. However, what he had done was revealed, and he got severely beaten. During the happening, he lost his sight, and her whereabouts became unknown. After some time, the man encountered her again in a train he had gotten in to see his mother in his hometown. The woman in the movie regained her femininity, but she continued to have bobbed hair because of her job. In the movie, woman’s black long hair symbolizes femininity; however, the female main characters have their hair harmed by political violence and reality. The damaged hair represents loss of femininity or death and symbolizes political violence given upon a woman’s body. Here, hair is not only a device that shows a woman’s femininity but also a sign which symbolizes political suppression. The woman loses or gives up her femininity under the political oppression or gets to have indistinct sex as she disguises herself as a man that sexual difference by appearance is meaningless any longer. Men are described as a savior who frees women under the leadership of the Communists, the spiritual father of the past, and then as a helpless blind wandering about the history. This research has examined in a new way the relationship between the political rhetoric meaning of damaged hair and gender in Chinese movies.

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