From Phoenix to Dragon

By: Yue Yang  

East Asian society is historically subjected to a patriarchal political culture which inevitably leads to gender-based marginalization in modern politics. However, in the past decades, East Asia has witnessed Park Geun-hye, Carrie Lam, Tsai Ing-wen, and other top female politicians breaking the highest glass ceilings. Based on this paradox, this research is concerned with three vital aspects: political culture, gender representation, and social media. It is primarily carried out under the framework of politics and popular culture. Scholars suggest that in western democratic electoral politics, politicians promote themselves as attractive commodities so that voters choose them as their favorite products. Hence, it has become a necessity for politicians to brand their images. Female politicians particularly need to decorate their images because a top politician is a historically established role associated with masculinity rather than femininity. In other words, when female political leaders enter office, they have to adopt relevant gender strategies to promote themselves as likeable individuals. To identify the branding gender strategies East Asian female politicians adopt, Tsai Ing-wen was chosen to be the main case study. This study endeavors to dissect the political performance (Goffman 1959) on social media platforms which have become valuable stages for politicians to engage in permanent campaigns. Through empirical research methods including textual and visual analysis, the research supposes that female leaders brand their female identity and use it as a double-edged sword to benefit their role as a politician.

Femininity, Performance, Politics
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Yue Yang

Master student, Interdisciplinary Information Studies, University of Tokyo, Japan