Revisiting Moment in Peking: Yin/Yang Principles and Gender Performativity

Volume 6, Issue 3, June 2022     |     PP. 139-157      |     PDF (271 K)    |     Pub. Date: May 3, 2022
DOI: 10.54647/sociology84794    67 Downloads     3125 Views  


Wan Zhongshu, South China University of Technology, School of Foreign Languages, GuangZhou, China

The ambiguity of Lin Yutang’s approach to women has triggered varying interpretations. His novel Moment in Peking chronologically coincided with the rise of the women’s movement in China at the turn of the twentieth century when West and East cultures clashed in China. As the nationalistic program of modernization proceeded, the Western colonialist hierarchy and binary logic happened to be adopted and internalized by contemporaneous Chinese intellectuals. In its portraying a series of struggles encountered by the central female figure Yao Mulan, the novel delves deeply into the performative nature of gender as well as the Chinese traditional notion of yin and yang complementarity, flowing, and fusion. This article draws on Judith Butler’s account of gender performativity to illustrate how Mulan performatively subverts the hegemonic norms through alternating between her yin and yang, which contributes to the destabilization of the colonialist categories of gender binarism and an understanding of gender identity as instable, fluid, and performative. Besides, it highlights the importance to take the geographical, historical and cultural context into consideration when analyzing women’s experiences of gender.

decolonization; gender fluidity; Judith Butler; Moment in Peking; performativity; yang; yin

Cite this paper
Wan Zhongshu, Revisiting Moment in Peking: Yin/Yang Principles and Gender Performativity , SCIREA Journal of Sociology. Volume 6, Issue 3, June 2022 | PP. 139-157. 10.54647/sociology84794


[ 1 ] Ko, Dorothy. 1994. Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth Century China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
[ 2 ] Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality. New York: Pantheon Books.
[ 3 ] Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 2003. Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press.
[ 4 ] Yutang, Lin. 1939. Moment in Peking. New York: The John Day Company.
[ 5 ] Xiaoling, Chen. 2010. Comparative Studies between the Heroines of Moment in Peking and Gone With The Wind. Jinan University.
[ 6 ] Lan, Wang. 2008. “Love and Marriage in Women’s Eyes.” Shidai Literature. 4: 114-115.
[ 7 ] Xiaona, Wang. 2012. “The Construction of Female Image by Eastern and Western male writers.” Literatures. 11: 30-31.
[ 8 ] Yanqi, Wang. 2019. “Mulan’s Female Consciousness in Moment in Peking.” Sinogram Culture. 8: 41-42.
[ 9 ] Butler, Judith. 1999. Gender Trouble and the Subversion of Identity. New York and London: Routledge.
[ 10 ] Shams, Parisa. 2018. “Revisiting The Father: Precarity and Subversive performativity.” Feminist Theory. 19(3): 289-302.
[ 11 ] Ko, Dorothy, JaHyun Kim Haboush, and Joan R. Piggott. 2003. “Introduction” to Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan, edited by Dorothy Ko, JaHyun Kim Haboush, and Joan R. Piggott. Berkeley: University of California Press.
[ 12 ] Lanlan, Du. 2011. “Gender Performativity.” Foreign Literature. 5: 120-128+159.
[ 13 ] Feng, Gia-Fu and Jane English. 1997. Tao Te Ching. New York: Vintage/Random House.
[ 14 ] Barlow, Tani E. 1994. “Theorizing Woman: Funü, Guojia, Jiating (Chinese Woman, Chinese State, Chinese Family).” In Body, Subject and Power in China, edited by Angela Zito and Tani E. Barlow, 253-289. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.