Over the last 15 years, Chinese videogames and fan communities have become a site where state-sanctioned gender norms are reproduced, altered and challenged. This article analyzes the representation of masculinity in the MMORPG Jian 3 and how fan-fiction writers transform this representation. The videogame predominantly evokes soft masculinity, a sexually ambiguous form of masculinity that represents men with traditionally feminine characteristics but not as explicitly homosexual. Much of the fan-fiction removes this ambiguity, transforming the game’s soft masculinity into an explicit form of homosexual masculinity. This diminished ambiguity has political valence in the Chinese context, where national identity is intertwined with a specific form of heterosexual masculinity. The fan-fictions serve to disentangle the relationship between nationalism and masculinity by advancing an alternative form of masculinity and decoupling it from the national project. These two textual strategies–the advancing of a homosexual form of masculinity and the decoupling of masculinity and nationalism–are present in other Chinese games and their fan-fictions, and indeed can be found in other media forms too.
- soft masculinity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts