Monday, April 16, 2007

M Butterfly | Transgendered Subjectivities

N. Susi, again!, is in the house with a timely posting:

Subject: Re: Blog Posting...
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 16:26:44 -0400
X-MB-Message-Source: WebUI
From: nataliesusi

Hi Nericcio-

During undergrad, I was in a "Texts and Contexts" class and we read David Hwang's "M Butterfly." We discussed the following story in connection with Baudrillard and the idea of simulacra. There is a 20/20 video with Barbara Walters interviewing Bernard Boursicot, but I looked all over and couldn't find it. If I find it, (it is quite entertaining), I will send it to you. This story definitely ties into our themes for the class. Natalie

The scene: Peking 1964. French Embassy Accountant Bernard Boursicot becomes enamored of a graceful Chinese opera singer named Shi Peipu. She returns his affection, bears him a child and induces him to engage in a little low-level spying on behalf of the People's Republic.

Paris 1986: Surprise! Shi Peipu was a male transvestite who somehow managed to perpetrate a 19-year hoax on the unsuspecting Boursicot by faking femininity and pregnancy and providing a baby boy who had been bought from a doctor in the Xinjiang region. Boursicot claimed that he did not discover the truth until he was arrested by French intelligence agents on charges of espionage. After hearing the strange case, seven judges last week sentenced both the hapless accountant and the former dancer to six years in prison. Their "son," Shi Dudu, now 20, was in the Paris courtroom at the time.


  1. Anonymous2:46 PM

    It is amazing what love can erase when involved with perception. During this class, almost all themes tied into the category of this “ethnic mannequin” where we dissect the world of stereotypes. At first glance, this entry reminded me of the piece about the real-life mannequin that resembled an Asian woman. The “actress” is created with dress, lighting, and makeup so much that the overall appearance looks surreal and fake, much like the capitalist vision of a modern, oriental simulacra. Shi Peipu surprises the world, especially her lover, when everyone discovers that not only is she a spy, but a transvestite! We have looked at many different forms of stereotype, but I think Shi Peipu has transcended them all. To hoax a man into espionage, she has transformed himself into the ultimate mannequin a male can accomplish: le feminine.

  2. melissa t.6:17 PM

    Shi Peipu used extreme makeup and clothing to become someone else, however on a less dramatic scale, many of us do these same things on a daily basis. We use makeup, hair dye, clothing, and shoes in our vain attempt to adopt a different persona. This dire need to fit in with society and become just like our favorite celebrities is futile. Very few of us know this people on a personal level and yet we assume that they are happy and carefree. In our assumptions, we are creating human mannequins. To turn the mirror back towards ourselves, how much of whom we really are is lost during our daily application of camouflage?

  3. Kevin W.2:01 PM

    In reading the blog about M butterfly and transgendered subjectivities, I was drawn to think deeper into the idea of the human mannequin concept. Shi Peipu, born a male, covers his male identity with makeup, clothes, and hair to assume a female appearance. Shie Peipu takes on the idea of the human mannequin in that he uses his outer appearance to show the world what he wants them to see, an image of what he feels on the inside, and what he created. He becomes someone else through his re creation of himself and in doing so, he ultimatly, in my opinion, becomes a mannequin, or a image Im guessing he cant come up with the words to describe his true self.

  4. Anonymous11:27 AM

    This entry reminded me of another great transgender film, the Crying Game, written and directed by Neil Jordan. In it, one of the main characters, Dil is a man who looks, acts, dresses, and talks like a woman, even though biologically she's a man. This is a fact that Fergus finds out after he starts getting frisky with her. What is interesting about this movie is that Dil is played by Jaye Davidson, a real-life transgender. In the movie, Fergus makes Dil dress like a man in order to protect her. So we have a man who identifies with being a woman, playing a man who identifies with being a woman, who then has to make that character act like a man. This is a never-ending circle of gender blurring. Watching this film, I paid close attention to Dil, trying to catch what clues specifically are used by other characters in the film to identify her gender. My conclusion from this was maybe gender isn't so much how we portray ourselves as it is how other people identify us, even though the two might be at odds.

    Caitlin Weber, e493