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Tongzhi: Politics of Same-Sex Eroticism in Chinese Societies examines Chinese societies where the family-kinship system, rather than sexuality, is taken as the basis of an individual's identity. With Tongzhi, you will come to understand the variations of same-sex erotica in different Chinese societies. Examining past and present treatment of the subject, including instances of discrimination against homosexuals, Tongzhi explores same-sex eroticism in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and explains the variations of categories and experiences of tongzhi in these countries.

Just what is Tongzhi?

Tongzhi is the most popular contemporary Chinese word for lesbians, bisexuals, and gay people. The word, which has very positive historical references, was a Chinese translation from the Soviet communist term comrade. It was appropriated by a Hong Kong gay activist in 1989 for the first Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in Hong Kong by its organizers, who wanted to employ an indigenous representation of same-sex eroticism. The term 'homosexual’was inappropriate because of its use as a medical term denoting sickness and pathology. Within a few years, tongzhi became a widely used term in Hong Kong and Taiwan and is often used interchangeably with the English term gay.

But terms such as gay, lesbian, and queer are Anglo-Saxon in origin, with specific histories that cannot capture the indigenous features of Chinese same-sex relationships. Tongzhi implies and includes much more. S/Mers, transvestites, and other fetishists who are members of the Chinese sexual counterculture who may be quite heterosexual are also tongzhi. And the term has meaning beyond the sexual: it embodies a strong sentiment for integrating the sexual (legitimizing same-sex love), the political (sharing the goals of fighting heterosexism) and the cultural (reappropriating their Chinese identity).

Tongzhi brings you fascinating insight into:

  • the history of same-sex eroticism in China
  • coming out in Chinese society
  • how colonialism has affected sexual nonconformists in this region
  • racial and sexual dynamics in Colonial Hong Kong
  • the cultural politics of being a tomboy/girl in modern Hong Kong
  • “queering the mainstream” with tongzhi identity politics
  • sexual/cultural diversities and differences among contemporary Chinese societies . . . and much more!
Tongzhi shows how culture influences identity and demonstrates how you can develop relevant strategies for successful activist movements. Discussing political movements for gay/lesbian/bisexual rights and the societal implications of same-sex eroticism, this intelligent book provides you with a clear understanding of the attitudes toward and meanings of being tongzhi today.
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Editorial Reviews

Examines Chinese societies where the family-kinship system, rather than sexuality, is taken as the basis of an individual's identity, and explains variations of same-sex erotica in different Chinese societies. Examines past and present treatment of the subject, including instances of discrimination against homosexuals, and explores variations of categories and experiences of same-sex eroticism in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The author has published some 20 Chinese books, mostly on sexuality and gender politics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560231530
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Haworth Press Human Sexuality Series
  • Pages: 358
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Cultural Politics of Tongzhi
  • Section I: The Cultural Construction of Chinese Same-Sex Eroticism
  • Chapter 1: A World Without Homo/Hetero Duality: Rewriting the Traditional Chinese History of Same-Sex Eroticism
  • The Chinese Conception of Sexuality
  • Compatibility Between Heterosexual Marriages and Same-Sex Eroticism
  • Chinese Tolerance of Same-Sex Eroticism in the Patriarchal-Classist Hierarchy
  • Modernity and the Death of Cultural Tolerance of Same-Sex Eroticism
  • Section II: Diversities and Differences Among Contemporary Chinese Societies
  • Chapter 2: Colonialism and the Birth of Sexual Identity Politics in Hong Kong
  • The Legal Discourse of Homosexuality Under British Colonialism
  • From the MacLennan Incident (1980) to Decriminalization (1991)
  • The Creation of a New Social-Sexual Subject: The Hong Kong Chinese Gay/Tongzhi
  • Classism and the Cultural Construction of Tongzhi
  • Chapter 3: Tongzhi Discourses in Contemporary China
  • The Absence of Homosexuals, Bisexuals, or Heterosexuals
  • Why Are Contemporary Mainland Chinese Suffering the Most?
  • Legal Discourse and Medicalization
  • Individual Strategies of Tongzhi Empowerment
  • Collective Strategies of Tongzhi Empowerment
  • Chapter 4: Going Beyond “Cultural Carnival Versus Political Confrontation”: Pluralities of Contemporary Taiwan Tongzhi Discourses
  • Formation of Tongxinglian Consciousness and Community Before 1990
  • Feminism and the Formation of the Tongzhi Movement
  • Resistance Through Cultural Carnivals
  • Confrontational Politics and Beyond
  • Section III: Gender, Race, and Tongzhi Politics in Hong Kong
  • Chapter 5: When Potato Queens Meet Rice Queens: Racial-Sexual Dynamics in Colonial Hong Kong
  • Sexual-Racial Politics in Personal Ads
  • Rice and Potato Queens in the 1970s
  • Language, Food, and Sex
  • Tongzhi Strategies of Resistance
  • Chapter 6: Cultural Politics of TB/B (Tomboy/Tomgirl) in Hong Kong
  • Nü Tongzhi in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Identity Formation of TB/Gs in the 1990s
  • TB: The Sexual Politics of Breast Binding
  • Differences and Similarities Among TBGs
  • Westernized Feminist Nü Tongzhi Verses Local Role-Playing TB/Gs
  • Section 4: Indigenous Tongzhi Strategies of Resistance
  • Chapter 7: From Coming Out to Coming Home
  • Coming Out in the Chinese Context
  • Redefining the Cultural Boundaries of “Out” and “Closet”
  • Tongzhi Experiences of Coming Home
  • Why the Legal Discourses of Rights Are Not Sufficient
  • Chapter 8: Tongzhi Identity Politics as Queering the Mainstream
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Reference Notes Included
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