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The Voice of Feminine Madness in Zhang Yi Mou's Da Hong Deng Long Gao Gao Gua (Raise the Red Lantern)

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In her testimony at the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography (1986), feminist Andrea Dworkin referred to a series of Penthouse photographs of Asian women bound and hung from trees, and then to a New York Times news article about the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Chinese girl in North Carolina whose body was left hanging from a tree, to suggest a causal relationship between misogynist representations in pornography and crimes against women in society. She appealed to the commissioners "as individuals to have the go and cut that woman down and untie her hands and take the gag out of her mouth and to do something for her freedom."1

In choosing Asian females to make her point (and her appeal), Dworkin maximized the chance that the Commission will conclusively agree that Penthouse (and, by extension, pornography) is, indeed, hate-literature which incites hate-crimes. Whatever else one might say about this strategy of borrowing established indignation against racism to raise moral claims against misogyny, the damage to Asian women as historical subjects must be considered for, once again, white society has fastened up/on the Asian woman as the ultimate helpless, spectacular, suffering victim.
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Keywords: Asian women; Western theories; crime; feminism; hate-crime; pornography

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-07-31

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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