‘Sissy capital’ and the governance of non-normative genders in China’s platform economy

Shuaishuai Wang*, Hongwei Bao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article examines Chinese government censorship in the intersection between queer and fan cultures and the government’s regulation of big tech companies and platform economies in the 2020s conjuncture. In the context of booming platform industries and proliferating queer representations, the government issued explicit directives to censor the representation of ‘sissy men’, or androgynous and effeminate male celebrities, on video streaming platforms in 2021. Accused of encouraging ‘sissy capital’ (娘炮资本), the digital platforms that produce or host these videos have also been closely scrutinized. Focusing on the discourse of sissy capital, this article traces how the term has been used in state policies and mainstream media to discern the power relations that produce such a discourse. It argues that in the context of China’s fast-developing digital platform economy in which the pink economy plays a part, the governance of non-normative sexualities and platform industries has converged in the government’s efforts to define and regulate culture in an era of digital capitalism. The term sissy capital points to the gendered dimension of capital as well as the political economy of queerness; it also contributes to a more nuanced understanding of contemporary governing rationalities and techniques in a digital, non-Western, and illiberal context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-362
Number of pages21
JournalChina Information
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • big tech
  • celebrity
  • censorship
  • gender
  • governmentality
  • platform economy

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