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Changing Gender Roles

With an appreciation for everything from Japanese cosplay to American art-house films, many young Chinese people, like their counterparts around the world, see gender norms as intrinsically fluid and the insistence on prizing traditional masculine traits hopelessly out of date.
Chinese feminists have joined in supporting the shifting ideal of masculinity. Many of these feminists are successful women with large disposable incomes; their tastes and purchasing power have contributed to the rise of the young idols. In their eyes, the appeal of those idols is defined primarily in the negative, by their lack of the attitudes and behaviors symptomatic of entrenched male privilege.
Both the cultural hipsters and feminists appear united in their conviction that gender expression is unequivocally a matter of individual choice. And this flies in the face of the refrain from state media that holds that traditional masculinity is the bedrock of national strength and that this masculinity “crisis” bodes ill for the country’s future. An article posted on the WeChat account of a major Communist Party committee last fall argued that at a time when China is bedeviled by nuclear threats at its border and a trade war from across the Pacific, the country does not want to see its men “shrieking while refreshing their makeup.”
- Helen Gao, ‘Little Fresh Meat’ and the Changing Face of Masculinity in China, NYT, June 12, 2019


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