Cai Shenshen


The discourse of body and sex has long been a taboo subject for Chinese females from time immemorial, and despite the Chinese Communist Party’s stated policies and legislation of “female equality”, the situation for females after the communist takeover improved only marginally and was most often just ‘window-dressing’. However, with the end of the Cultural Revolution and the beginning of reforms to ‘open up China’ and the growing importance of modern Western cultural thought, there appeared a gradual change in the Chinese people’s attitude towards discussions on body and sex. People began to understand the ideas of femininity, female desire and sensuality. Writers and filmmakers began to challenge the orthodox or established imagination and expectation of female desire, female body and sex and to use these new topics of body politics to question the rationale of the socialist political agenda.

This paper critiques two modern Chinese popular TV drama serials: The Place Where Dreams Start (1999 dir. Ye Jing) and Blow the North Wind (2009 dir. An Jian) and examines the rhetoric and “politics” of the female body and sexuality in socialist revolutionary context. The emphasis is on the body and sexual pursuit of the “revolutionary” female and her relationship and interactions with the revolution. This paper will adopt a feminist perspective, and it will examine how the female figures in these stories participated in and devoted themselves to the Revolution and how, despite their devotion to the Revolution, they were rejected by the Revolution. It will show that a feminist view that incorporates female desire, body and sexuality generates an alternative perspective from which to view the Chinese revolutionary discourse. In the texts examined, women are manipulated, abused and betrayed by the Revolution and its revolutionary principles, and eventually their ideas are renounced and discarded by the Revolution.