Cross Dressing as (Wo)Men: The Implicit Male Gaze in a “Feminist” Ballet
Keywords:The Red Detachment of Women; Crossdressing; Ballet; Male Gaze; Feminism.
The Red Detachment of Women is a Chinese revolutionary ballet that is often characterized as feminist based on its portryal of female soldiers. This view is based on the incomprehensive view that the era of its production was devoid of desire, sex, and gender. This article, using the 1970 filmed version of the ballet, utilizes crossdressing as a lead and through an analysis of costumes, identifies the gender differences between the characters on stage. Furthermore, the article explores actor-audience interactions and argues that the gender difference is initiated by an implicit male gaze embedded within the production. The Red Detachment of Women is significant as a specimen of gender politics during the Cultural Revolution, as well as an example of undetected masculine view in popular culture production.
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