"You are My 'Treaty of Nanjing,' The Beginning of My Fall": A Cultural Analysis of Contemporary China's Obsession with "Little Fresh Meat" 小鲜肉, Anne Wen, UG '23 (2985594)
In the thesis, I argue that xiao xian rou 小鲜肉 pushes back against the state-sanctioned ideals to look masculine, and the role of effeminate men in modern Chinese television uplifts women. Given the proximity of China to neighboring countries like Korea and Japan, I also argue that shifting definitions of male beauty through manga and flower boys have affected masculinity in China. Despite the government’s efforts to discourage and suppress men who have become “too” effeminate, the country cannot help but acknowledge the popularity of xiao xian rou as an engine of political and economic change. From the popularity of shows like Meteor Garden to the government’s rhetoric on why sissies will damage national manhood, the role of xiao xian rou has brought into question a conflict between politics and economics, and most importantly, paved the way for women to occupy space in urban settings and leverage their preferences to shape commercial markets.