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The Cosmopolitan DreamTransnational Chinese Masculinities in a Global Age$
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Derek Hird and Geng Song

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455850

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455850.001.0001

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“North American Despicable Man”

“North American Despicable Man”

Race, Class, and the (Re)making of Chinese Diasporic Masculinities in the United States

(p.218) 12 “North American Despicable Man”
The Cosmopolitan Dream

Xia Zhang

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter investigates the cultural politics involved in the emergence and prevalence of the online epithet of “North American despicable man” (or “beimei weisuo nan” in Chinese and “NAWSN” in short). Combining virtual ethnography and off-line fieldwork research and informed by critical theories of masculinity studies and new media studies, this chapter explores the ways in which race, class, and nationality intersect in constructing and negotiating the cultural meanings of “NAWSN” within overseas Chinese online community. It argues that the emergence and popularity of the notion of “NAWSN” should be understood as a social process of “double emasculation” that feminizes and emasculates well-educated recent Chinese immigrant men with non-elite backgrounds in the United States. A full understanding of the cultural construction of newly emerging forms of Chinese masculinity requires us to attend to not just the gender ideological field in both China and the United States, but also to the transnational dimensions of its construction. Through confronting the “NAWSN” image online, the Chinese immigrant men attempt to compensate for the lack or loss of power in real life, but ironically reinforce the social prejudice against Chinese men and help perpetuate male dominance in the United States.

Keywords:   Chinese Diasporic Masculinities, New Media, Race, Gender, Class, Migration, Transnationalism, China, United States

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