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Changing Chinese MasculinitiesFrom Imperial Pillars of State to Global Real Men$
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Louie Kam

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789888208562

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888208562.001.0001

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Polygamy and Masculinity in China

Polygamy and Masculinity in China

Past and Present

Chapter:
(p.13) 1 Polygamy and Masculinity in China
Source:
Changing Chinese Masculinities
Author(s):

Harriet Zurndorfer

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888208562.003.0002

This chapter traces the relationship of polygamy to masculinity from the Ming-Qing era to the present. It demonstrates how ideals of masculinity shifted from passing the civil service examinations and enacting political/moral leadership to demonstrating business acumen and gaining wealth. With the demise of Maoist goals of gender equality in the post-Deng reformist years, masculinity became coupled with materialism and affluence which enable men nowadays to acquire mistresses and ‘second wives’. This chapter argues that both in the past and in the present, a homosocial culture that separates men from women encourages polygamy, boosts men’s sense of entitlement, and their pursuit of self-distinction and self-aggrandizement. While men nowadays may profess their filial obligations to their parents and wives, they also consider their power to indulge in extramarital affairs a crucial mark of status in relation to other men.

Keywords:   China, polygamy, polygyny, concubines, mistresses, second wives, homosocial culture, wealth, prestige

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