Woman was a category in flux during China’s revolutionary 1920s. Alongside commercial magazines that celebrated the arrival of the modern girl (xiandai nüzi) were political currents that prioritized class and nation as sites for women’s liberation. Scholarship has criticized Marxism and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for negating women’s gendered interests in favor of a class focus. Yet, it was the proletarian women’s movement of the United Front that attracted the largest amount of women activists during China’s National Revolution (1925–27). What was the allure of a Communist-influenced movement for modern girls whose subjectivities were awakened by Western humanist concerns? This article engages select articles from Chinü zazhi (Red Women Magazine) to argue that China’s proletarian women’s movement reconciled Marxist, nationalist, and feminist demands. It was able to do so largely because it took place at a time when there was no unified Chinese nation to speak of, and the CCP still framed its Marxist rhetoric in a May Fourth lens. An examination into the proletarian women’s movement therefore problematizes Cold War narratives about the antithetical relationship between Marxism and feminism and asks us to reconsider approaches toward fostering interclass and international solidarity.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.