Culture

From Cai Xukun to Ding Zhen, the symbolic victory for Chinese feminism in 2020

The aesthetics of Chinese women has changed. This makes Chinese men begin to feel anxious about their appearance, which only women can feel in the past.

This article was originally written by the Chinese media Entertainment hard candy (娱乐硬糖) and translated by PandaYoo.com after it was licensed. Copyright belongs to the original author and it is forbidden to reprint without permission.

It is rare to see men compare their appearances to others. But thanks to Ding Zhen,now we know that men also care about who is more beautiful.

Of course it doesn’t really matter who is more beautiful, but the obsession with beauty clearly falls into the trap of the “female gaze”. Of course, from the author’s point of view, this comparison has its significance of feminism progressive:

For many years, it is women who unconsciously fall into the “male gaze”, worshiping the frame and standard under the male aesthetic rules and disciplines such as “white, thin and young”, A4 waist, peach butt, and even keeping teenage girl figure during pregnancy.

However, it’s men’s turn to envy Ding Zhen`s good looking.

Karma, isn’t it?

Feminists on Weibo said: Ding’s fame has plunged Chinese men into body anxiety.

The collapse of masculinity and the collapse of psychological defenses has been evident since the “straight men vs. Cai Xukun” in early 2019. To these people, such a “sissy” man did not deserve to be an ambassador for NBA,and should not be liked by women.

By the end of 2020, this mock has become “good-looking is worse than studying hard”. When some men criticize Cai and Ding Zhen, they are not just disliking these two “beauties”. They are afraid of the awakening female consciousness and aesthetic independence.

The more grandiose and aggressive the language is, the greater the collapse in confidence.

In Exhibiting masculinity, Sean Nixon claims that the aggregation of a certain masculinity always depends on the act of watching. It used to be that men watched women for thousands of years with ease. Now it is the woman who looks at the man. After just a short while, the man becomes very worried.

The subject of the viewing decides the right. Maybe 2020 will be a turning point for the ownership of remote control.

Who hates Ding Zhen?

Ding Zhen’s incredible popularity, popularity with millions of women, career at a state-owned company and career as the Litang tourism ambassador are leaving his male compatriots massively jealous.

With 1.24 billion views and 140,000 comments, the Weibo tag #some men’s attitude toward Ding Zhen has been the most searched topic on Weibo for a long time. It has to say that on the same sex envy, man to man’s malice is not inferior to woman to woman

“I have been studying hard for more than ten years to get into a good university. I am proficient in many languages and master the knowledge of arts and sciences, but I am not as good as a minority who can’t speak Mandarin fluently and become popular just by good looking. He has fame and fortune, but I only have small salary and endless overtime.” This is the standard rhetoric and logic against Ding Zhen.

Some netizens said that most of the men who hate Ding Zhen are from small towns. They argue that it is not Ding Zhen himself they hate, but the distorted values behind. What do people who study hard and work hard think about an illiterate rising to fame?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the real world that women face from adolescence onwards. The beauty can get more is the long-accepted survival rule of females.

Both sides have long acquiesced in the way men judge women based on their appearance. However, when women chase after Ding Zhen, men jump out to say that the society is unfair, which is obviously the extreme inadaptability to being “judged”.

In Misogyny, it argues that “the value of a woman is defined by a man, and the value of a man is still defined by a man.” Ding Zhen just rely on his face to get the girl’s love, no doubt broke part of the men to women for a long time the “money snobbish” denigration – turns out people do not think you poor, just think you ugly.

If men decide that beautiful women can live by their appearances, then women can also let Ding Zhen change his lives by his face. Men make women become vases, and women can do the opposite.

Why is it that no one laments “social injustice” when web celebrity beauties are in fashion, while it is unacceptable for men to do the same?

It may be that men’s confidence is really starting to be shaken, when their appearance anxiety is triggered by their lack of good appearances.

In Her book,A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, Siri Hustvedt divides the female gaze into two categories. One follows the patriarchal logic, which means that women wear glasses with male eyes to see the female gaze; The other is the truly subversive gaze of a inclusive and free woman who dares to confront the patriarchal culture.

With Ding Zhen as the battlefield, female gaze apparently blew the bugle of counterattack. The anger toward Ding Zhen is just the tip of the iceberg, but the fear of being ruled by the female gaze is the foundation of the iceberg. The anxiety caused by the lack of competitiveness of some men in the sex market, with Ding Zhen as the trigger, is venting.

Cai Xukun and the “othering”

In January 2019, the NBA invited Cai Xukun to be the ambassador, which triggered a massive boycott by male users and turned into humiliating him on the whole website. In their eyes, Cai is just a sissy, with very limited basketball skill. How can such a men stand with all those NBA stars?

Cai was promoted as the ambassador to attract female fans for NBA. As an iconic symbol, Cai is tailor-made by the entertainment industry for female fans. Women use money to vote to express their aesthetic wishes, and agencies actively cater to these wishes by creating artists’ images and works. Star-making is a two-way interactive process.

Therefore, the masculinity presented by Caii is relatively commercial, which is different from Ding Zhen’s popularity which is dominated by female groups. The masculinization of business capital, with pretty faces and cute and polite personalities, has blurred the boundary between different sex.

The reason why straight men reject Cai is due to his masculinity has not been recognized by the male group. They personalize each other through the identification of “professional fans,” and exclude from the circle of mutual recognition female fans who have never even played basketball.

Tough guy, knowing basketball and sporting are confirmed by the long-term solidification of male temperament. So straight men often mock Cai by posting pictures of themselves showing off their muscles in order to degrade his neutral temperament and the feminine aesthetic behind.

Attacking Cai was more like a ceremony to declare male sovereignty. In this incident, due to the deep involvement of idol fan circle, it was only the matter of fans, but lacked the overall female participation. On Bilibili and Weibo, many female netizens expressed their admiration or indifference to the funny videos made of Cai.

“Straight men vs. Cai Xukun” from the very beginning lacked the participation of the female subject force, and finally turned into an online carnival the defence of the male ego and amusing to death. This meant that the right to approve of men was still in the hands of men.

Behind Ding Zhen’s popularity, and some men’s malicious criticism to Ding Zhen, is that women can now determine the value of men. How can a fall from the top of the food chain not cause anxiety? The mentality behind the gender game is subtle.

Women who like Ding Zhen will defend their right to watch men. Women who have no sense of Ding Zhen will also defend the status of women’s independent aesthetic. On the one hand is the empowerment of the female gaze, and on the other is the protection of this hard-won empowerment. I don’t necessarily like Ding Zhen, but I like to see the male gets angry.

In Cai event, men defend the primacy. However, in Ding Zhen event, male became the second sex. When vested interests lose their interest, the initial reaction must be anger. But the history of equality has been an upward spiral, in which the male gaze has sometimes fought back but eventually lost, and the temporary success of the female gaze does not mean that it will be smooth sailing.

Will 2020 be the first year of the rise of female consciousness?

The year 2020 is bound to be unusual. In addition to the epidemic throughout the year, women’s rights issuesn are the most prominent topic of this year’s social trend of thought, culture and entertainment.

The topic of feminism has been discussed more than ever and has become the bull’s eye of online discourse. Any topic can turn into a women’s rights debate, with both necessary discussion and unintelligible bickering. As we stumbled along, at least we began to think hard.

The opposition is that women are not portrayed positively in the “female gaze” backlash. The extremists attacked everyone they did not agree with, making the gender conflict infinitely magnified. It also distracts the media, whose attention is consumed by meaningless quarrel rather than solving specific problems.

The supporting opinion holds that the most important direction for equal rights for women in the media era is to have the discourse power. Regardless of criminal cases or film and television works, ignoring the existence of the subject of male gaze will lead to recurring problems.

“The high table and the low stool are all wood. Whether feminism in 2020 is stagnant or improving is a matter for everyone to decide. But the popularity of “Posthumous marriage“, a hip-hop dance from universities in Guangxi, and Sitar Tan’s new song Xiao Juan have made people realize the power of “discourse”.

Xiao Juan lyrics

In Xiao Juan, Sitar Tan sings: Know my name and remember it. When the tragedy can be stopped? Are lyrics like “from the wedding house to the river bed” scary? But what even more frightening is that this is what truly happened in 2020.

When people say “she is brave”, it has proved that gnerd equality is far from being realized. When does the retelling of facts become sexist? When does “appreciation of a teenager” become “socially unfair”?

Interestingly, when male users criticized Kris Wu and Cai Xukun in 2018 and early 2019, they were expressing a rejection of a certain kind of male image and a rejection of the female aesthetic. However in 2020, no matter what the criticisms are or how they accuse judging people with appearances, the real subtext is always “they want to be Ding Zhen.” Just as women often fantasize about being the lovely wives in love dramas who are loved only because of their beauty and innocence.

In Feminist Philosophy of Art , Eaton claims that “male gaze is an act of objectifying women through the sight of men to obtain sexual pleasure”. The reason why 2020 is less delightful for some males, is that women are destroying the male gaze, and even fighting back in the same way.

Traditional masculinity is a bit out of fashion in the sex market. After getting rid of the economic attachment to men, women began to show more subjectivity. From Cai Xukun to Ding Zhen, it is a kind of representation of this proceeding.

In a basketball-themed forum in China dominated by male users, 63% of users rated themselves as more handsome than Ding.

In 2020, we may not know which stage feminism will achieve, yet we do know that the men`s anxiety of appearance has just begun.

Author: Xie Minghong
Chinese Editor: Li Chunhui
Translator: Roschach

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