Queering singlehood in mainland China



This study was triggered by a 2015 documentary film directed by Sophia Luvara, Inside the Chinese Closet, which depicts the plight of two homosexual individuals in present-day Mainland China. Upon further reading into the film text, the discourse of the protagonists’ sexual orientation is downplayed; rather, the issues of their singlehood seem to be more of a concern, and pervasive. The paper first discusses singlehood in relation to traditional Chinese culture. There is no doubt that Confucian philosophy and ‘face’ are correlated with the fact that the family-kinship in China has a pervasive influence on the public perception of singlehood. Yet, as the self-combed women have demonstrated, singlehood is not consistently problematized by the Chinese culture. Thereafter, the discussions move into the discourse of contemporary China, suggesting that state-backed media have been encouraging marriage and stigmatizing those who do not adhere. Unmarried women are not the only victims, though they seem to experience the stigmatization more often than men. Chinese bachelors, too, fall prey to stigmatization. In recent years, there also seems to be a continual normalization of homosexuality due to gay consumerism and the increase of the legalization of same-sex marriage. At the end of the day, be it for heterosexuals or homosexuals, marriage seems to be an important end point to singlehood. At last, the paper questions the need to look at singlehood as the binary opposition to marriage.


SinglehoodInside the Chinese closetHomosexualityLeftover womenSingle men
  • Issue: 12
  • Page/Article: 70-81
  • DOI: 10.18573/jomec.176
  • Published on 8 Feb 2018