Being Pretty Does Not Help Your Success": Self-representation and aspiration of China’s female showroom livestreamers

Zhen Ye*, Tonny Krijnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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China’s showroom livestreaming is highly gender-segregated, in which young women working as showroom livestreamers are often stigmatized and criticized as hypersexual or vulgar. Situating female streamers’ practices in the sociocultural environment of contemporary China and comparing them to other wanghong creators such as fashion or beauty bloggers in China’s digital economy, we investigate how female streamers construct a particular type of gendered entrepreneurial subjectivity. In this research, we selected 90 short videos that are produced by three female streamers on the social media platform Douyin to examine their self-representations and discursive practices around showroom livestreaming production. In the analysis, we unravel three major interconnected narratives: enduring the behind-the-screen hardship of livestreaming is worthy; navigating heterosexual relationships with viewers is part of showroom livestreaming work; and professional skills and knowhow are provided for those who truly aspire to success. These narratives commonly form a discourse of showroom livestreaming as good work for ordinary working-class or underclass women to achieve social and economic advancement in contemporary China. Moreover, these narratives render young women as autonomous agents with free choices to hustle in the world of showroom livestreaming, normalizing the precarious working conditions as well as gender power imbalances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-172
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Media and China
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024

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