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As Normal As Possible

As Normal As Possible: Negotiating Sexuality and Gender in Mainland China and Hong Kong

Edited by YAU CHING
Series: Queer Asia
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    As Normal As Possible
    Book Description:

    Drawing from the fields of ethnographic and sociological studies, cultural activism, public health and film studies, this volume poses new and exciting challenges to queer studies and demonstrates the study of Chinese sexuality as an emergent field currently emanating from multiple disciplines. The essays here showcase the work of emerging and established scholars working mostly outside Euro-America and focus on cities including Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. This book is one of the first sustained collections on Chinese non-normative sexual subjectivities and contemporary sexual politics published in English. It highlights the various ways in which different individuals and communities––including male sex workers, transsexual subjects, lesbians and Indonesian migrants––negotiate with notions of normativity and modernity, fine-tuned according to the different power structures of each context, and making new and different meanings.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-572-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Dreaming of Normal While Sleeping with Impossible: Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Yau Ching

    Issues related to sexuality have emerged in China and Hong Kong¹ in unprecedented ways in the past several years. The growth of religious fundamentalisms and global gay discourses, heightened media attention linking the rising AIDS figures primarily to the gay community, tongzhi² activist movements, struggles and public demands of sex workers, have all contributed to this new visibility. In Hong Kong, tensions are rapidly rising within the growing impact of the religious neo-liberal front fueled with reclaimed (reimagined) post-1997 Chinese moralism vis-à-vis glocalized movements of sexual rights. Normative institutions for the regulation of sexuality including faith-based organizations and megachurches in...

  6. I Travelling Bodies

    • 1 Outcast Bodies: Money, Sex and Desire of Money Boys in Mainland China
      (pp. 17-36)
      Travis S.K. Kong

      Initiated by the then General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Deng Xiaoping, in 1978, many reforms have changed China’s economic, political, social and cultural landscapes over the past few decades. This series of reforms has included agricultural decollectivization, the creation of a market economy, the enhancement of social mobility, modernization and internationalization. Crystallized as the “opening up”, the reforms have privileged liberal market principles, emphasized money and other material rewards, encouraged consumption and personal choice, intensified social conflict, widened inequality and created the massive growth of a floating migrant labour underclass population, among other effects. This apparently revolutionary...

    • 2 Lesbianism among Indonesian Women Migrants in Hong Kong
      (pp. 37-50)
      Amy Sim

      For the casual visitor to Hong Kong who stumbles on Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Sundays, what becomes immediately obvious is that it is occupied almost entirely by migrant women, and more strikingly, that heteronormativity among them is not an unquestioned norm. In the park, fashionably attired Indonesian women migrant workers in Hong Kong as same-sex partners share a day of rest together after a week—and sometimes more—of not having seen each other, both working as foreign domestic workers in their employers’ homes.

      There are about 129,505 as of 30 June 2009² Indonesian women domestic workers in...

    • 3 Tung Lo Wan: A Lesbian Haven or Everyday Life?
      (pp. 51-72)
      Denise Tse Shang Tang

      Lesbian spaces as sites of resistance have been studied in the last decade with social geographer Gill Valentine urging geographers and urban sociologists to map lesbian neighbourhoods “from nowhere to everywhere” (Valentine 2000: 1). Notions of resistance have taken on multiple meanings within major theoretical strands such as postcolonialism, feminism, cultural geography, postmodernism, Marxism and queer theories. A mapping of resistance points to the interrelations and competing influences these theoretical strands have on each other. In this chapter, I will investigate how lesbian commercial spaces function as temporary sites of resistance for Hong Kong lesbians to validate their lesbian identities,...

  7. II Communities

    • 4 GID in Hong Kong: A Critical Overview of Medical Treatments for Transsexual Patients
      (pp. 75-86)
      Eleanor Cheung

      When the general public in Hong Kong hears the word “transsexual”, crime, cabaret, suicide¹ and mental illness are some of the notions that often spring to their minds—as that is often the kind of news that get covered when transsexuals and transgendered people² are mentioned in the media. During the summer of 2007, for example, there were sensational news coverage about a young FTM who was convicted for stealing his elder brother’s Identity Card and using it to apply for a job,³ and around the same time that year, there was also the news about the infamous Zung Kai-leon⁴...

    • 5 Opening up Marriage: Married Lalas in Shanghai
      (pp. 87-102)
      Kam Yip Lo Lucetta

      This chapter is part of the research I did during 2005 to 2007 on lala¹ individuals and communities in Shanghai. I carried this research during the formative period of identity-based lala communities in China. It is one of the first extensive qualitative studies of tongzhi communities in contemporary urban China. Tracing the development of the inaugurative period in Shanghai, it documented the struggles and strategies of lala women who are the founding members of this emerging community. This chapter can provide ethnographic information to future tongzhi studies in China, especially to lesbian studies in China which are much needed at...

    • 6 My Unconventional Marriage or ménage à trois in Beijing
      (pp. 103-110)
      Xiaopei He

      In the 1990s, the lesbian and gay or tongzhi movement started in China. I was among those organizing some activities. In 1997, some friends and I set up the first tongzhi pager hotline in Beijing. To avoid police harassment, we used a pager rather than a telephone line at a fixed location. Volunteers took turns to take the pager and reply to calls from all over China.

      We facilitated a weekly training designed by and for hotline volunteers. The themes were decided collectively, and we all took turns facilitating the forum. Everybody was free to express ideas and opinions on...

  8. III Representations

    • 7 Porn Power: Sexual and Gender Politics in Li Han-hsiang’s Fengyue Films
      (pp. 113-132)
      Yau Ching

      This chapter seeks to queer a part of Hong Kong cinema history considered to be most heteronormative through studying some of the most controversial works of one of the most prolific and influential Chinese filmmakers. Li Hanhsiang’s (Li Hanxiang) (1926–96) achievement is best remembered for his big-budget, elaborate Chinese historical epics. Alongside his award-winning huangmei diao (romantic musicals) and gongwei (palace chamber) dramas, he has also directed and scripted a significant number of “smaller” and less discussed softcore pornographic films mostly set in the late Ming. These films constitute a genre of its own known as fengyue pian‚ a...

    • 8 Queering Body and Sexuality: Leslie Cheung’s Gender Representation in Hong Kong Popular Culture
      (pp. 133-150)
      Natalia Sui-hung Chan

      Top Canto-pop star and Hong Kong actor Leslie Cheung proclaimed his bisexuality in an interview in 2001 after finishing his last concert tour, the Passion Tour, during which he wore six Jean Paul Gaultier outfits, from a white tux with angel wings to a naughty skirt and long black wig. His bisexuality is not only revealed by the English name he adopted in the early 1970s when he attended high school in England but also by his androgynous appeal on stage and cross-dressing in films in the 1990s.

      Born in 1956, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing was the youngest son of a...

    • 9 Performing Gender, Performing Documentary in Post-socialist China
      (pp. 151-176)
      Shi-Yan Chao

      In the 1980s and early 1990s the People’s Republic of China saw the fluorescence of independent documentary filmmaking. Wu Wenguang, Duan Jinchuan, Zhang Yuan and Jiang Yue launched a wave of documentary filmmaking commonly referred to as the Chinese New Documentary Movement. The movement’s filmmakers generally reject the official tradition of newsreels and zhuanti pian (literally, special topic films), which are characterized by images compiled in accordance with pre-written scripts, and by directly addressing the audience from a grand, top-down angle (Berry 2007: 115–134). Rather, they highlight a sense of immediacy and an “unscripted spontaneity” (Berry 2007: 122), showing...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 177-188)
  10. Glossary
    (pp. 189-194)
  11. Worked Cited
    (pp. 195-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-218)