Gender Roles in the Chinese Media Globalization Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2957 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

Gender Roles in the Chinese Media

Globalization and gender differences in images of Chinese women in the media

Recently, terms such as "freedom of the press" and "free press" have begun to creep into China's government controlled media network. The winds of social change might be blowing, but the government still maintains central control of what is published and what does not. The government of China has worked hard to keep Western media influences out the China's press. Penalties for violating established taboos for journalists are severe, including long prison sentences. In a world where China struggles to join the global community, it still maintains a desire for autonomy. The premise for this research is that regardless of the efforts of the Chinese media to exclude Western themes from the media, public demand has allowed some Westernized female images to creep into the media of mainland China. This research will explore the presence and prevalence of westernized female images in Chinese advertising media.

Background of the Problem

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China is a country steeped in tradition. Historically, it has been resistant to change and the introduction of foreign influences. For many years, China had an isolationist policy towards any type of foreign influence. China wanted to prove that they were self-sufficient. This exclusion of foreign influence isolated them culturally as well. Chinese cultural ideals were reinforced. Traditional female and male roles were predetermined before a child's birth, and the child dare not try to break them.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Gender Roles in the Chinese Media Globalization Assignment

In recent years, things have begun to change in China. As the rest of the world moved toward globalization, China feared that it would be behind and left out. They started to make changes, including improving their infrastructure that would help them better integrate and compete in the changing global marketplace. China had to make many concessions as a requirement of entering into the global marketplace. Some of these concessions meant allowing western goods into their country. Their market became less isolated and the Chinese people were exposed to a plethora of Western goods and ideals.

Rationale for the Study

Media portrayal of women stuck to traditional images and icons. However, new game shows and television programming, such as "Super Girl," a take off on "American Idol." In this show the audience has to vote on who they feel is the most beautiful. In a recent episode, the audience chose a girl that was boyish and did not represent traditional Chinese roles (Zhengying 2006, p. 1). Examples of non-traditional women are found in an increasing number.

This research is based on the premise that the growing number of non-traditional women in Chinese media is a reflection of changing gender roles throughout Chinese society. The images of women in non-traditional roles are not only appearing more often, as the public opinion in "Super Girl" indicates, it is being accepted by mass society as well. This study will focus on the growing number of non-traditional women in Chinese media and will assess public opinion regarding these new paradigms regarding gender and attractiveness in Chinese culture.

This study is important because until recently, there have been few academic studies that examined traditional Chinese women's roles. There was little change in traditional Chinese gender roles, until the recent introduction of Western media into the culture. This change is a result of an attempt by the Chinese to enter into the global marketplace. This study will be one of the first to measure attitudes and perceptions of Chinese women as a result of exposure to "westernized" images of Chinese women.

Research Problem precursory examination of Chinese media indicates that changes are being seen in the portrayal of traditional Chinese gender roles. Not only are these changes occurring in the media, their prevalence can be considered acceptance of them. This research will examine public reaction to both traditional and non-traditional roles for Chinese women, as presented in the media. This research will address the question of whether this new "trend" of non-traditional gender portrayal demonstrates a change in the core of Chinese society. It will examine the acceptance of new gender role portrayal among a cohort of Chinese college students. It will support the hypothesis that traditional gender roles are changing to include a wider acceptance of non-traditional roles. It will also examine the hypothesis that new gender roles are a reflection of greater acceptance of these roles in Chinese society.

Literature Review

An examination of literature on changing gender role in China revealed few academic sources on the topic of gender roles. This may be due to the long-standing prevalence of traditional Chinese gender roles. Gender roles were clearly defined for many hundreds of years with little change. This means that there was nothing to study, from an academic standpoint. The recent introduction of Western ideals into the Chinese media has begun to permeate society as a whole. Recently, a few academic articles examined the changing roles of Chinese women. The following will examine these findings in relation this research study.

Traditional Roles

Gender roles in Chinese society are some of the most clearly defined in the world. Not only were gender roles an ingrained part of society there have been laws that clearly defined gender roles. One can find examples of punishments for women who broke traditional defined gender roles. These laws and regulations changed throughout the dynasties but in reality, the changes did little as far as daily life was concerned for women. Some were stricter than others were or carried more severe punishment, but they reflected as standard traditional set of behaviors and roles.

Laikwan (2005) examined photographs of courtesans in the late nineteenth century. The photos used to examine these women demonstrated instability in the gender meanings associated with women. Laikwan postulates that these photos reflect changing values and an attempt to redefine gender roles. However, it is difficult to make this assumption because this is a historiographical perspective. Judging historical attitudes and societal norms from a modern perspective does not lead to reliable conclusions. Laikwan can make inferences based on modern ideals, but cannot draw conclusions, as has been done in this research study. The importance of Laikwan's work in relation to this research study is that it adds as element of elasticity to gender roles throughout history.

Another element that affects perceptions of gender and gender roles in the media is that the Chinese media is one of the most highly censored in the world. The Chinese government monitors the media to make certain that it conforms to established norms and expectations. Any media that does not follow the rigid guidelines set by the government can suffer severe penalties. The Chinese government has been under fire by developed nations regarding freedom of speech and media censorship issues. This new trend in emerging differences in gender roles may be a reflection of loosening policies toward media censorship, or it might be that the government simply cannot keep up with the influx of new media in recent years. The real question is whether this reflects a change in government policy or whether it is a reflection of a defiant and changing society on the part of the Chinese people.

Cross-dressing in theater is a complex characteristic that has been present since the days of Shakespeare, when only men were allowed to appear on stage. Cross-dressing on stage demonstrates duality. The audience is presented the real gender of the character as well as the gender of the character. Cross-dressing on stage is a part of the Chinese theater tradition (Ping, 2005, p. 159).

Ping notes that through the portrayal of men in female roles, we can learn something about the definition of the roles of traditional Chinese women. The picture painted by these cross-dressing characters is that Chinese women are demure and submissive. They are demure and totally dedicated to the needs of their husband. They do not play an important role in politics and must raise their children to strict Chinese norms and customs. Ping's assessment of the "ideal" Chinese women reflects commonly held notions about Chinese women and their gender roles. This norm will be used as the basis for selection of women in the media that represent traditional Chinese women's roles.


Westernizing has been considered a cultural assault (Ling, 1999, p. 278). Global communities must decide to either globalize or remain localized. When western ideals creep in, they often overshadow local traditions. According to Ling, there is no neural ground in westernization of the world. Western ideals will not compromise or succumb to local conditions. Ling compares western influence to colonization. This attempt to colonize the world reduces diversity. Many traditional societies, such as China reject the introduction of Western ideals, largely because they fear the loss of their own culture and identity.

It has been surmised that the Great Depression and World War II undermined America's attitudes that it was the exception rather than the rule (Jespersen 1996, p. 19). According to Jesperson, America needed to reassure itself that it was unique among… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Gender Roles in the Chinese Media Globalization.  (2007, April 29).  Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

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"Gender Roles in the Chinese Media Globalization."  29 April 2007.  Web.  28 September 2021. <>.

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"Gender Roles in the Chinese Media Globalization."  April 29, 2007.  Accessed September 28, 2021.