Maoist Mappings of Gender: Reassessing the Red Guards

Emily Honig

in Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520211032
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935303 | DOI:
Maoist Mappings of Gender: Reassessing the Red Guards

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This chapter explores some of the complexities of the articulation of gender identity during the Cultural Revolution by focusing on one particular issue: women's participation in the widespread violence that accompanied the Red Guard movement when the Cultural Revolution began in 1966. On the surface, Red Guard violence was gender blind; there was nothing gendered about either its perpetrators or victims, whose class identity and political affiliation were far more salient. However, personal accounts and memoirs of the Cultural Revolution reveal that its violence was in fact deeply gendered, sexualized, and enmeshed in contested notions of masculinity and femininity. This does not mean that violence was about gender, but rather that its practice and representations had clearly gendered dimensions. Women may have acted like men and engaged in the same forms of violence as men, but the meanings and implications of their experiences were profoundly different. Furthermore, the chapter explores the meanings people ascribed to female violence, and the role of that violence in the remapping of male and female identities in the Cultural Revolution.

Keywords: gender identity; Cultural Revolution; Red Guard movement; female violence; Maoist mapping

Chapter.  6506 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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