Qipao and Over-Sexualization of Women

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Liu Jianhua: Game Series (image taken from Qipao PowerPoint slides)

This photo, taken from artist Liu Jianua’s “Game Series” shows a woman’s body, dressed in qipao, on a plate. From this image, we can see that the woman is on a plate, with no arms or head. She is only wearing one shoe, and her body language appears to be sexually inviting, but helpless because of her inability to move without a head or arms. Her dress is very revealing and shows the entirety of both of her legs, and she is placed in the middle of the plate. She also appears to be slightly cross legged, however, not in the way one would expect to see a woman sitting cross legged. This image, created by a man, shows how the sexualization of women in qipao can become a disturbing obsession by men, where the focus becomes less about the woman’s identity and more about her body, in order to please men regardless of her will to. 

sound thesis statement

The qipao was representative of the modern woman, the opposite of foot binding, where concealment was the thing most valued. The qipao was much more revealing in that it had slits in the legs, was tight to the body, and was sometimes sheer, showing off women’s bodies, almost as if to tease. This artist, however, takes this sexualized style to an extreme, almost as if he is exploiting the woman, leaving her helpless as if she was attacked. The first thing that leads the observer to think this is the woman’s body position. She is on her back, but without arms and a head there is no way for her to move herself from that position. She also only has one shoe on, which can imply a sign of a struggle. Additionally, she the way she is placed is in a sexual position, very inviting to men who find the feminine body attractive.

Another reason that this image could be indicative of a disturbing, sexual obsession of men is the fact that the woman does not have any distinctive characteristics that show her identity. Her face is not present, which shows that the artist and some of the observers do not necessarily care about the woman, herself, but rather only care about her body. This creates a selfish ideal where the woman is not valued for anything other than the pleasuring of men. The other important part of this image to recognize, as well, is that the artist does not indicate a specific man for whom this woman is to pleasure. She is placed on a plate as if she is food for any man to consume, regardless of if they know her or not. Her legs are also slightly cross-legged, which was usually associated with the modern woman, however, these women’s legs were usually tight together and while a woman was sitting in a chair. This woman’s legs, however, are somewhat crossed, potentially representing the modern, but they are also open and inviting, overly sexualizing her, especially with the way she is laying.

The way that the dress falls on the woman leaves her exposed and helpless in this picture. It appears as though she had been attacked from the way she is laying to the helplessness caused by her immobility and her lacking of one shoe. Although the qipao was a way for women to express themselves sexually and embrace their femininity, it is unfortunate that artists like this take this sexuality that comes from the qipao fashion and disempower women by exploiting them for a man’s pleasure. 

 nice work and could even be stronger should you reorganize the analysis in terms of denotation-connotation structure, focusing on one element at a time.