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Towards a Chinese Hip-hop Feminism and a Feminist Reassessment of Hip-hop with Breakdance: B-girling in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China

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Based on data collected through interviewing b-girls (breakdancing girls) and participant observation of b-girling, we analyse gender inequalities confronting women who practise breakdancing in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, document these women’s struggles against gender inequality, and illustrate that these inequalities and struggles differ somewhat from those found in the US context and even from those found in studies of women who practise rap music. We outline the contours of a Chinese hip-hop feminism and suggest adopting it to investigate the local specificities of hip-hop-based gender politics in Chinese societies. We find that culture is a key part of the matrix of domination on which Chinese hip-hop-based gender politics focuses, but that racism is not. We discuss how such local specificities pose difficulties for the internationalisation of hip-hop feminism. We also construct a tentative signpost for understanding how a feminist assessment of hip-hop based on research on breaking differs from that based on research on rap. The signpost, which sums up the central findings of current studies and the present one, is “remaking hip-hop, redoing gender”: the remaking of hip-hop in a way that is fairer for women and the redoing of gender by b-girls for themselves, their audiences and society at large.

Keywords: Chinese hip-hop; Hip-hop feminism; b-girling; breakdance; breaking; gender; global hip-hop; sociology of popular culture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Hong Kong Baptist University,

Publication date: July 3, 2019

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