The Politics of Gender: Feminist Implications of Gender Inversions from M. Butterfly

Weilin LI


The issue of gender has been discussed in terms of postcolonial feminism as a political tool, and the intervention of race makes the problem more complicated. The Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang makes a self-conscious move and inverts the gender identities of his characters Gallimard and Song. This paper analyzes the inversions and the corresponding implications from various viewpoints: the stereotype and fetishism, the problem of discourse power, and Homi Bhabha’s theory of the third space and Woolf’s androgyny vision. Oriental women have long been fetishized into a stereotype; they are depicted as submissive and passive, and are silenced by the double pressure from race and sex. In M. Butterfly, the stereotype is crushed by gender obscurity and inversion, and the articulation power is handed over to a person in the “third space” with hybrid identity. This masquerade can be seen as a process of self seeking and re-identification, in which Hwang installs his philosophy in feminism and provides his method for females, especially Oriental females, and this paper recovers the philosophy and exploration his contribution to postcolonial feminism in detail.
Key words: Gender Inversion; M. Butterfly; Stereotype; Discourse Power; Third Space; Androgyny

Resumé: La question de genre a été discutée en termes du féminisme postcolonial comme un outil politique, et l'intervention de la race rend le problème plus compliqué. Le dramaturge sino-américain David Henry Hwang fait une démarche de conscience de soi et inverse les identités de genre de ses personnages Gallimard et Song. Cet article analyse les interversions et les implications correspondantes des points de vue différents: le stéréotype et le fétichisme, le problème du pouvoir de discours, la théorie du troisième espace d'Homi Bhabha et la vision androgyne de Woolf. Les femmes orientales ont longtemps été fétichisée dans un stéréotype; elles sont dépeintes comme soumises et passives, et sont réduites au silence par la double pression de la race et du sexe. Dans Madame Papillon, le stéréotype est écrasé par l'obscurité et l'interversion des sexes et le pouvoir d'articulation est remis à une personne dans le "troisième espace" avec l'identité hybride. Cette mascarade peut être vue comme un processus de recherche de soi et de ré-identification, dans lequel Hwang installe sa philosophie dans le féminisme et fournit sa méthode pour les femmes, en particulier les femmes orientales, et cet article reprend la philosophie et l'exploration de sa contribution au féminisme postcolonial en détail.
Mots-clés: Interversion Des Sexes; Madame Papillon; StÉRÉOtype; Puissance de Discours; TroisiÈMe Espace; Androgynie


Gender Inversion; M. Butterfly; Stereotype; Discourse Power; Third Space; Androgyny; Interversion Des Sexes; Madame Papillon; StÉRÉOtype; Puissance de Discours; TroisiÈMe Espace; Androgynie


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