This article looks at the activism of Kang Hyang-nan and other feminists with the Rose of Sharon Alliance (Kŭnuhoe) during the 1920s in colonial Korea, tracing how Kang and her colleagues used short hair as a symbol of feminist resistance. While the bobbed cut and women’s rebellion against traditional hairstyles became subject of public debate, Kang and others were able to destabilize views about the “naturalness” of female inferiority in Korea. These activists capitalized on the debates over the meanings and propriety of women’s hairstyles not only to challenge traditional gender roles, but also to suggest the constructed nature of gender itself. However, these feminist meanings of short hair for Kang and others became overshadowed by other images by the 1930s, which foregrounded the short-haired woman as an emblem of modernity, consumerism, and female sensuality.

You do not currently have access to this content.