Linglong Magazine was widely popular among young women in Shanghai in the 1930s. Pocket-sized and low cost, the magazine featured articles on a wide range of topics deemed relevant to the lives of young urban women during that time such as fashion, interior decoration, new careers, and, of course, love, sex, and marriage. In addition, there were many illustrations of Shanghai socialites, female authors, and American celebrities.
Linglong magazine often explored the essence of enlightened young women in contemporary society and thus, played an important role in shaping women’s thinking and concepts. The magazine’s forward-looking philosophy is perhaps what attracted the attention of many young female students in the Republic of China.
Below is an example of an article that you would find in the magazine:
"One day, I was speaking with a 19 year old girl and she sighed softly and said, “I think it’s time for me to get married”. I said to her “What makes you think you can make a guy fall in love with you and marry you?” She replied without hesitation “Naturally. You see I have a beautiful face, I come from a good family, I have a pretty decent education, I can dance, I don’t spend a lot of money, yet I’m able to spruce myself up nicely, I can also swim and play tennis. Surely, these are qualities any modern guy would be looking for.”
I bet many school girls would agree with her and say the same thing. I would, however, like to disagree. I don’t think the qualities she described are enough.
Suppose a girl wants to marry a rich man and enjoy the materialistic way of life, the points listed above are sufficient. That’s because the kind of person who would buy a girl’s love is usually looking for nothing more than a beautiful face and the ability to play. The rest doesn’t matter to them. Under this kind of unity, women are nothing but playthings and I think many ambitious sisters would agree that they’re not willing to be someone’s puppets. That being said, let’s discuss what a promising man’s expectations for his wife are?
You should probably be able to come up with a few. A man that is looking for a lifelong partner doesn’t wish for his future wife to be a toy or a puppet, with only good looks to offer but no soul. Therefore, you must learn how to help your husband, or figure out how to use his help in order to obtain the effects of “couples cooperation”. The doctrine of being a good wife and loving mother is certainly something we want to oppose, but one should have a basic knowledge of how to take care of a home and how to cook."
During the 1930s, also known as Shanghai’s “golden era”, the concept of the modern woman became popularized. The modern woman defied traditional values and gender roles through her newfound independence, open sexuality, and political activity. Visual culture during that time, such as Linglong Magazine, illustrated the changing gender norms. This idea of the modern woman was also represented in many advertisements in Shanghai-based pictorials to sell household, fashion and lifestyle products.
Check out these beautiful prints from Gentle Oriental, inspired by such pictorials as mentioned above!