“China’s Oprah”

NPR featured a rather condescending-in-its-nationalism interview with Yang Lan, one of China’s most interesting media moguls. One of Michele Martin’s opening questions was, “How sick are you of the Oprah Winfrey comparison?” Now if you have to ask that, clearly, it’s not a great question, is it?

Luckily, Lan quickly established why she has achieved as much as she has: she was quick-witted, incisive, and modest without being demur. Most notable was her observation about the nature of “power” as implied by her invitation to Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit. She questioned the definition of power and situated it in a masculinist notion of what the word means, “Well, I’m not very comfortable about the power thing because power used to describe the more, you know, male chauvinism kind of value system. I think nowadays, women are breaking the borders or the boundaries and also trying to give a new interpretation in terms of impact you can have to the society. It’s not about the manner of the scalability or the massiveness of how many people you employ or how much money you can decide on, but rather it’s the new thinking that you can bring to other women or to the society as a whole.”

Want more on Oprah, power, and gender? See Jennifer Rexroat’s chapter, “I’m Everywoman: Oprah Winfrey and Feminist Identification,” in The Stories of Oprah (now available for your Kindle or iPad!).

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