Sexuality and Power

in progress

"Red is not the only color of a rainbow": Dynamics between public health classification and gay men in China. Winner of the Martin Levine Paper Award (American Sociological Association). Presenting at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting (2019); Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Meeting (2019); Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting (2019). {abstract}

Public health scholars classify gay men as “men who have sex with men (MSM)” in their study and intervention. We know little about how those people who are classified as MSM perceive and respond to this classification, especially in the authoritarian regimes. Drawing upon Ian Hacking’s dynamic nominalism theory, this study tries to fill these gaps by utilizing qualitative interviews with 31 gay men in three cities in China. I find that on the one hand, many gay men have internalized the MSM subjectivity and consider themselves essentially at high risk of HIV/AIDS infection. This compliance is constructed through various biopower techniques with the support of the state’s sovereign power, as the Chinese state censors almost all kinds of representation of gay men except the HIV/AIDS subject MSM. On the other hand, some of my interviewees were resistant to be identified as part of the MSM classification, because public health authorities commonly fail to connect MSM with gay men’s sexual identity but engender additional stigma in the intervention materials. This failure is an unintended consequence of the hegemonic MSM discourse and authoritarian regime’s institutional exclusion of the gay community’s engagement in the expertise network that develops intervention materials and strategies.

The State Media’s Representation and Epistemology of the Same-Sex Desires and Practices in China: A Study of Chinese Communist Party’s Official Newspaper, 1949-2017


Beyond Clinical Trials: Social Outcomes of Structured Stakeholder Engagement in Biomedical HIV Prevention Trials in China. Culture, Health & Sexuality. {abstract}

Stakeholder engagement is increasingly recognized and institutionalized as an essential component of HIV-related biomedical research. However, we know little about stakeholder engagement’s social outcomes, i.e. its influence on the community it engages with, particularly in authoritarian regimes and outside high-income countries. This study evaluates a multi-site stakeholder engagement programme conducted in parallel with two HIV prevention trials among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China. We conducted a one-month ethnographic study and 41 semi-structured in-depth interviews with participants of a stakeholder engagement programme and/or clinical trials in six Chinese cities. We found that the stakeholder engagement programme offers MSM community stakeholders additional and flexible funding, networking opportunities, activities to increase clinical research literacy, and may strengthen their connections with the community. However, they may also generate negative unintended consequences. It may cost community stakeholders’ social capital, increase moral conflicts and tensions, and even create tension between their ‘community representative’ and ‘research assistant’ identities. Our findings suggest that structured stakeholder engagement practice could effectively mitigate negative outcomes generated by such engagement. The broader socio-political structure in which a trial is embedded requires more attention and consideration from trial funders and sponsors, particularly in stakeholder engagement programme design. 

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Chinese Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Latent Class Analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior. {abstract}

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are a diverse population yet are often treated as a monolithic risk group. In China, MSM have long been characterized as a “bridge population” of closeted men who are married to (or will marry) women due to sociocultural expectations. Latent class models can inform a more nuanced yet empirical characterization of this population. In total, 1424 eligible respondents recruited online provided self-reported behavioral data. Nine items related to constructs including sexual behaviors, sexual orientation, and gender identity informed the latent class model. Logistic regression was used to measure associations between latent class membership and HIV-related sexual and health-seeking behaviors. Model fit indicated a population structure made up of four classes that we characterized as “Gender nonconforming” (4.3%), “Closeted–unmarried” (29.9%), “Closeted–married” (24.6%), and “Out” (41.2%). Members of the “gender nonconforming” class were more likely to report HIV-related risk behaviors, and “Closeted–unmarried” class members were less likely to report health-seeking behaviors, both relative to “Out” members. The largest latent class was made up of members of the “Out” class, an enlightening revision of a population traditionally viewed as largely closeted men. Two types of “closeted” classes emerged, distinguished by divergent tendencies regarding marriage and health seeking. Findings suggest that current understandings of Chinese MSM are simplistic (regarding closeted behaviors) and too narrow (in its definition of MSM as cisgender men). A more nuanced understanding of MSM subgroups and their heterogeneous risk behaviors will be critical for provision of more meaningful prevention services. 

Meaning World and Subjective Construction of an Anti-Masturbation Community: A Sociological Investigation (in Chinese: 戒色者的意义世界与主体建构——对一个网络社群的社会学研究).  {abstract}

中文摘要: 适度自慰的无害性早已从“生物科学”的层面得以证实。但近年来,反自慰(“戒色”)的话语却在国内巨大影响,追随者已达百万。对此,中文文献对此缺少关注,而西方的相关研究在其历史和宗教的背景下的讨论,亦无法解释中国“戒色”社群中的个体化、世俗化导向。本文通过对多名“戒色”实践者的深度访谈及其所在网络社群的话语分析,探讨该社群如何在当下社会语境下挪用传统、宗教、国族等元素对“性”及“自慰”的话语进行主体建构;个体又是如何反思性地重塑自我认同及生活轨迹,进而践行另类的意义世界的。

English Abstract: The harmlessness of moderate masturbation has long been confirmed from the perspective of “biological science”. However, in recent years, the discourse of "anti-masturbation" have been greatly affected in China, and its followers have reached more than one million. However, current literature lacks attention to this very strange issue. Through in-depth interviews with several “anti-masturbation” practitioners and discourse analysis of the online community, this paper explores how the community uses traditional, religious, nationalism and other elements to frame the issue of masturbation and the social relations associated with it. The discourse of masturbation carries out the subject construction. While practitioners reflexively reshapes their self-identity and life trajectory, and then practices the alternative meaning world.


Light and Shadow: Gay Bar as a Space of Consumption. West Journal. 2016; (2): 70-74. (in Chinese: “明”与“暗”:作为消费空间的同性恋酒吧) {abstract}


Stereotype and Masculinity: A Gender Perspective to Review the Male Nurse. Sexuality Research in China. 2016; 2(1): 362-374. (in Chinese: 刻板印象与男性气质——性别视角下的男护士) {abstract}

中文摘要: 随着社会和护理行业的发展,男护士逐渐活跃在这个曾经被视作只有女性才会从事的行业之中。本文从社会学和性别研究的理论视角出发,在对两家医院两个月的参与式观察与26位相关人士的深度访谈后,通过对与男护士相关的最明显的一优一缺点——“力气大”与“不细心”进行了细致的梳理与批判,对目前男护士的学术研究和现实管理中存在的过分偏重于生物性别解释与性别本质主义的问题进行了再讨论。本文发现,这种基于生物性别的刻板印象似的优缺点虽然突出了男护士在特殊科室的重要作用,但无益于其护士身份自我认同的稳固和发展,亦使得其陷入了更深的自我与外界规训之中,并对改善护理质量的要求可能会产生一定的误导。本文也会以男护士为主体,分析他们是如何通过对信息的裁剪和展演对自我身份与其男性气质进行重新的建构与展示的。

English Abstract: With the development of the society and the nursing profession, male nurses are gradually becoming active in the profession that was once considered to be only women. From the theoretical perspective of sociology and gender studies, this paper, after two months of participatory observations of two hospitals and in-depth interviews with 26 relevant individuals, thoroughly examine the most stereotypical advantages and disadvantages associated with male nurses - The "great strength" and "not careful enough." This paper finds that the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of gender-based stereotypes highlight the important role of male nurses in special departments, but they are not conducive to the stability and development of their identity as a nurse, which also makes them fall into a deeper self-doubt and discipline. This article also examines how male nurses reconstruct and display their identity and masculinity through the strategically display/hide information.

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