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Martial Arts Cinema and Hong Kong ModernityAesthetics, Representation, Circulation$
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Man-Fung Yip

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390717

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390717.001.0001

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The Difficulty of Difference

The Difficulty of Difference

(p.115) 4 The Difficulty of Difference
Martial Arts Cinema and Hong Kong Modernity

Man-Fung Yip

Hong Kong University Press

Eschewing a reductive reading, this chapter considers the complex and often ambivalent gender politics associated with the woman warrior figures—or nüxia, meaning literally “female knights-errant”—in Hong Kong martial arts films of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In particular, it argues that the truly transgressive aspect of these fighting female characters lies not so much in their taking on of qualities (such as violent physicality) historically aligned with men; rather, what is potentially more radical is their adeptness in assuming and performing multiple gender identities, from female masculinity (the appropriation and refunctionalization of hegemonic masculine norms) to the feminine masquerade (the deliberate flaunting of femininity). Such gender play bears a more destabilizing potential by virtue of its ability to bring about a blurring of gender identities, and thus to undermine and challenge the notion of masculinity and femininity as fixed, immutable categories.

Keywords:   nüxia, woman warrior, female masculinity, cross-dressing, masquerade

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