The Oppositional Gaze as Spectacle

Feminist visual protest movements in China

Authored by: Nickesia S. Gordon , Yuhan Huang

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138329188
eBook ISBN: 9780429448317
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, the authors explore how the power of the gaze and the spectacle that it generates operate as resistive forces in certain visual protest movements in China that were inspired by similar actions in the United States. These acts of protest bring attention to and challenge normative ideals about female identity, power, and oppression that occur across the globe. They also rely heavily on social media for organizing and galvanizing efforts. In our analysis, we use an extended version of bell hooks' concept of the oppositional gaze to make the case for the rebellious nature of the visual practices that these movements internalize and invite. Using China as a case study, we conduct a discursive analysis of how the oppositional gaze unfolds when actors respond to misogyny and patriarchy by using visual or nonverbal forms of protest. We also consider how collective political action in the United States such as the #MeToo movement help frame sister movements in China.

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