Gender and Language, Vol 11, No 4 (2017)

Powerfully queered: representations of castrated male characters in Chinese martial arts films

Mie Hiramoto
Issued Date: 6 Dec 2017


This paper investigates representations of castrated male characters in Chinese martial arts films. In my data, without exception, the castrated kungfu practitioners are villainous, powerful and extremely tenacious. After careful examination of the characterisations of these sexually unorthodox male martial artist characters in mainstream films, I find a strikingly simplistic equation that links the castrated male characters and their visual and linguistic representations. While the castrated males are some of the most physically capable martial arts practitioners in this genre, they are stereotypically presented as lacking masculinity, and in turn both feminised and dehumanised. Through layers of mediatisation, the fictional castrated male characters are shown to be freaks and monsters by being linguistically and visually queered.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.31592


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