New Women, Modern Girls, and the Decline of Female Smoking, 1900–1976

Carol Benedict

in Golden-Silk Smoke

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262775
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948563 | DOI:
New Women, Modern Girls, and the Decline of Female Smoking, 1900–1976

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From the seventeenth until at least the late nineteenth century, many Chinese women of all social ranks consumed tobacco just as their menfolk did. Granted, there were gendered differences in the location of consumption: Chinese men could smoke in public, but well-mannered women smoked privately out of view. In the twentieth century, smoking among women gradually died out as fewer women initiated smoking to begin with. Certainly by the time the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, smoking among women was on the decline. This chapter discusses the smoking of new women and modern girls, and the decline of female smoking in China during the period 1900–1976. It describes the smoking in public of Shanghai courtesans and new women, the emergence of a critical elite discourse directed against female smoking, how smoking is related to Orientalism and unruly female sexuality, tobacco as “race poison,” the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union and its anti-smoking campaign, the early Republican anti-cigarette movement, and cigarettes and the modern girl as targets of political campaigns between 1934 and 1976.

Keywords: China; tobacco; smoking; cigarettes; consumption; new women; modern girls; courtesans; race poison; political campaigns

Chapter.  15720 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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