Gender Prejudice in Beijing Opera Critics in Early Republic of China
Yuan Chang (Department of History, National Taiwan University)
After the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, women began erforming in the Beijing Opera. Entry into this once male-dominated art liberated women from traditional gender roles, offering careers and financial independence, and it also transformed the Beijing Opera. But in the early days of the Republic, opera critics viewed female actresses with contempt, underestimating their abilities, believing only male actors could achieve excellence.
This paper investigates how Beijing Opera critics, writing in popular magazines and newspapers from 191-2-1927, applied different standards to male and female performers. Specifically, I argue these critics harbored the same anti-woman biases as those in prominent Beijing Opera circles: that women lacked talent; that women’s performances were indecent; that only a woman’s beauty was of import; and that only a man was the ideal performer.
Beijing Opera, actress, opera critics, early Republic of China