Victims, perpetrators and professionals: the representation of women and violence in Chinese crime films
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 17:02 by Tingting Hu
This thesis examines the representation of women and violence in award-winning Chinese language crime films. It introduces a new trajectory in the investigation of the cinematic representation of female figures in relation to gender issues by interweaving Western feminist and postfeminist critiques with traditional Chinese sociocultural discourses that maintain salience in contemporary society. Through an in-depth narrative and critical multimodal analysis, it identifies and examines three major representations of women in relation to violence - the female victim, the female perpetrator of violence and the female professional. In doing so, the study demonstrates the various ways in which Chinese crime films depict female victims, passive and active female perpetrators of violence and female professionals, all of which reinforce a sense of male dominance and patriarchal power. It bridges the gap in the field of the representation of females in Chinese culture and in Chinese film studies by being one of the first studies to systematically examine Chinese crime films as a genre. This thesis argues that while the depiction of female victimisation at the hands of men consolidates the notion of women's vulnerability and inferiority in Chinese society, the representation of female perpetrators of violence and as professional working women presents what may be seen as a postfeminist masquerade - a cultural strategy that presents an impression of female empowerment all the while reinforcing traditional gender hierarchies. While graphic female victimisation is commonly presented, female perpetrators of violence and females in professional roles in crime films are shown to remain under the control of male authorities, implying that Chinese crime films are produced in a context of heavy patriarchal power and misogyny.