A Reading of Feminism and Camp in David Henry Hwang’s Play M. Butterfly
- Min Zou
David Henry Hwang’s influential theatrical production of M. Butterfly (1988) has been widely discussed in terms of postcolonialism, Asian representations, and the intersection of gender and race. The feminist connotation embodied in the work, however, is largely either ignored or criticized. Employing poststructuralist feminist thoughts of Luce Irigaray, Teresa de Lauretis, and Judith Butler, as well as camp feminist research, the article attempts to illuminate the play’s undertones that defy patriarchal construction, gaze, and othering of women’s bodies in dominant culture and knowledge. It shows that the characterization of Comrade Chin, Renee, and other main female characters in M. Butterfly confront stereotypical representations of women with subversive ones. Moreover, the play camps or plays with fetishized womanhood in an excessive and exaggerated manner. In this way, it lays bare the presumed feminity as an artifice produced via the male gaze, freeing female beholders from identifying with the object and watched position and allowing them to return the watching gaze as a subject.
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- Alice DingEditorial Assistant