Chinese reviewer urges rethink of masculinity

EFFEMINATE?:After some protested a boy band’s appearance on a TV show, ‘Poisoned Tongue’ said masculinity should not be judged by makeup

Reuters, BEIJING

Fri, Sep 07, 2018 - Page 6

A prominent Chinese film reviewer slammed the use of the term “effeminate” to describe China’s often heavily made-up boy bands and challenged his online followers to take a more informed view of what being a man entails.

Androgyny is accepted in Chinese entertainment, where “pretty” boy bands and “handsome” girl groups command millions of fans, in a phenomenon widely attributed to the influence of pop culture from South Korea and Japan.

However, the appearance of an “effeminate” boy band in a widely watched educational program on Chinese television last weekend spurred some parents to protest that the nation was doomed to become “effeminate” if such acts were allowed.

Masculinity should not be judged by the use of makeup or how a man behaves or talks, reviewer “Poisoned Tongue” said in a series of social media posts.

“Why should ‘effeminate’ be used in such a derogatory way? And who says the country could only be referred to as a ‘he’? What’s wrong with ‘she’?” the reviewer asked. “It’s an insult to some men and is even disrespectful to women.”

“I don’t have any opinion on how those guys use makeup and how they live their lives,” one netizen said. “What I oppose is some TV programs advocate those effeminate figures when our children don’t yet have the ability to discern for themselves.”

In 2016, some schools in Shanghai started using a textbook to cultivate masculinity in boys to avert what they feared was a masculinity crisis. It encouraged boys to build strong bonds with their fathers, among other suggestions.

“We allow the existence of ‘delicate’ men, but we can’t adore them,” another netizen said. “We’ll respect them, but we don’t want them to be mainstream, because they’ll have an impact on our next generation.”

A state-backed magazine also joined the debate, saying on social media that androgyny was not an aesthetic that had appeared suddenly.

“There are Chinese traditions that appreciate femininity, value sentiment and emphasize a more neutral form of aesthetics,” Ban Yue Tan (半月談) wrote in an article published by Xinhua news agency. “In contemporary China, those qualities are just manifesting in a new way.”