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Cultural Politics of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Asia$
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Tiantian Zheng

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824852962

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824852962.001.0001

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Sexuality, Class, and Neoliberal Ideology

Sexuality, Class, and Neoliberal Ideology

Same-Sex Attracted Men and Money Boys in Postsocialist China

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter One Sexuality, Class, and Neoliberal Ideology
Source:
Cultural Politics of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Asia
Author(s):

Tiantian Zheng

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824852962.003.0002

Based on 12-month fieldwork in Dalian, China, this chapter unravels Chinese same-sex attracted men’s (tongzhi) negotiations and interactions with the dominant discourse of the “normal” postsocialist person, and the impact it has on the class structure, career, and romantic relationships among tongzhi. While class structure among Chinese tongzhi is largely shaped by wealth, higher-class tongzhi can practice what I call “covert gayness” as they can afford to consume and congregate in more secretive places such as high-cost bars. Lower-class tongzhi are compelled to practice more “overt gayness” as they tend to cruise in free, open spaces such as parks and public bathrooms. The dominant discourse of “normal” person also impinges upon choices and intimacies of romantic relationships and career choices of some rural migrant men who work as money boys (sex workers) and plan to accumulate enough money to catapult themselves to a higher level such as businessmen. Wealth and class are implicated in the selection of partners and in the intimacy of romantic relationships. This chapter argues that tongzhi embrace the dominant discourse to pronounce themselves as “normal” postsocialist persons. In so doing, they paradoxically are co-opted by the state apparatus, thereby legitimizing and perpetuating state power.

Keywords:   sexuality, class, neoliberalism, China, same-sex attracted men

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