Asian Masculinities: The Meaning and Practice of Manhood in China and Japan

Asian Masculinities: The Meaning and Practice of Manhood in China and Japan

Asian Masculinities: The Meaning and Practice of Manhood in China and Japan

Asian Masculinities: The Meaning and Practice of Manhood in China and Japan

Synopsis

This book shows how East Asian masculinities are being formed and transformed as Asia is increasingly globalized. The gender roles performed by Chinese and Japanese men are examined not just as they are lived in Asia, but also in the West. The essays collected here enhance current understandings of East Asian identities and cultures as well as Western conceptions of gender and sexuality. While basic issues such as masculine ideals in China and Japan are examined, the book also addresses issues including homosexuality, women's perceptions of men, the role of sport and food and Asian men in the Chinese diaspora.

Excerpt

In the first sentence of the anthropological collection Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies, the editors Cornwall and Lindisfarne state that "[o]ver the last few years there has been a surge of interest in the study of men and masculinity. We are told that on both sides of the Atlantic men are starting to respond to the challenges of feminism" (Cornwall and Lindisfarne 1994, 1). Indeed, the book does cover topics such as Greek sexuality, prostitutes' clients and gay male identities as well as masculine practices in countries in Europe, America and Africa. However, it has no chapters that focus on Asian masculinities. By disregarding half of mankind, it ends up offering analyses that distort comparative understandings of different masculinities in the global context. Such distortions have been a common feature of men studies in the West, and in the 1990s a number of researchers became "aware how far we still are from realising the type of inclusive scholarship we would find ideal" (Brod and Kaufman 1994, 6).

This concern for a more inclusive "international masculinity research" is echoed by R.W. Connell in the inaugural issue of the journal Men and Masculinities in 1998, where he calls for "an understanding of the world gender order" as "a necessary basis for thinking about men and masculinities globally". Connell argues that the "ethnographic moment" in masculinity research, in which communities of men are studied, and compared, has been valuable, but that we should in the twenty-first century go beyond the ethnographic moment and adopt a more global approach that considers the international setting as an arena for study. Such an aim is praiseworthy, but unfortunately remains an unrealised ideal. This call was made in 1998, and since that time there have been some attempts to expand the scope of gender and masculinity research into a global arena, as demonstrated by Connell himself (Connell 2000). However, such research tends to be empirical and descriptive, and is almost always from a Western perspective. Furthermore, in the rare instances when Men and Masculinities itself publishes articles on Asian men, those articles tend to concentrate on Chinese or Japanese men in Western contexts (for example Chan 2000).

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