Title

Television’s “Leftover” Bachelors and Hegemonic Masculinity in Postsocialist China

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 4-28-2017

Publication Source

Women's Studies in Communication

Volume

40

Issue

2

Inclusive pages

190-211

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07491409.2017.1295295

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

This article looks at the renegotiation of Chinese masculinities by analyzing the gendered performances of participants of a popular TV dating show If You Are the One (Fei Cheng Wu Rao). As symptomatic media texts, the reality TV show points to the quandaries of evolving gender politics faced by singletons of China’s one-child generation within the country’s neoliberal restructuring. The textual evidence shows that male participants follow the rule of a market economic hierarchy and uphold the hegemonic ideal of versatile, successful, and upper-middle-class manhood, which hinges on the patriarchal, heteronormative model of love and marriage. Paradoxically, this disempowering ideal is reinforced by female participants in their relational reconstruction of masculinities. The article argues that the Chinese state media not only discipline masculinities but also naturalize a regressive gender mandate in alignment with neoliberal values and the state’s pursuit of capitalist economic development. Consequently, the multiple, hybridized versions of masculinities emerging in media discourse and popular parlance complicate the cultural repertoire of gender relations yet without challenging deeply entrenched structural gender inequality.

Keywords

Dating game shows, hegemonic masculinity, neoliberalism, postsocialist China, reality television

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