Performing Media-Constructed Images for First-Class Citizenship

Political Struggles of Rural Migrant Hostesses in Dalian

Author: Tiantian Zheng

Abstract:

This article addresses how the state, the market, and intellectual discourse in China construct the sexually promiscuous, dangerous, and threatening rural migrant woman as second-class citizen in opposition to the civilized, demure, and moral city woman who is pictured as a first-class citizen. Rural migrant women's bodies are thus the battleground for the formation of the hegemonic cultural norms. The author describes the ways in which rural migrant hostesses imbue me-dia-constructed stigmatized sexuality with new meanings. Foregrounding hostesses' interactions with clients in the karaoke bar sex industry, the author argues that hostesses perform represented images to redistribute clients' resources and procure legitimate cultural and political first-class citizenship. Their political struggle both challenges and contests media constructions about themselves.
Regions: East Asia
Countries: China

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March 2007
© Sai Latt