The paper explores the newly-emerged danmei fandom phenomenon Nisu (泥塑) in Mainland China’s cybersphere. Nisu in the internet fandom community designates the action of fantasizing idols/characters as in their non-biologically assigned gender, for instance, imagining a male character performing as a female. Upon such fantasy, fans produce creative content, including fan art, fan fiction, and re-edited video clips to fulfill communities’ homo-erotic desires. Together, fans generate an active and interactive online community. Among all the mediums of fan expression, the literary text is the most dominant form of communication. Such texts could serve as a lens to understand Nisu culture as a site of subjectivity negotiation under censorship and heteronormative hegemony. In this paper, I offer a close reading of these texts derived from popular fan-fiction, online fan forums, survey results, and semi-structured interviews of Nisu fans. Although Nisu fans’ behavior is usually solely derived from their affection and sexual projection instead of a clear intention of contestation, the study reveals that they managed to offer a queer reading to non-binary intimacy and sexuality. The paper, therefore, argues that Nisu culture reinforces a tactical power to confront the state oppression of queerness and homosexuality. In this case, it manifests a counter-public potential. Through Nisu culture, we could observe a non-normative narrative of female desires, while the Nisu culture itself operates as a safe, participatory space for individuals to re-imagine the fluidity of gender and sexuality.
Yuan Zhu, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
About the Presenter(s)
Yuan Zhu is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, HKBU. She is interested in how gender and sexuality intersects with neo-liberal dynamics in post-socialist China, including labour, technology and consumption.
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