Cross-dressing ‘Happy Boy’ Stirs Up Debate on Gender in China / 伪娘的争论 [CRIEnglish.com]

 2010-05-31 

Liu Zhu (front), a 19-year-old young man, dresses like a girl during a television show. (File Photo: qingdaonews.com)

The “He” that dresses like a “She” and constantly blurs the lines of division between male and female has ignited a fierce debate in China. 

Liu Zhu wants to be a television star after having earned some fame in a television talent contest that he was eliminated from. 

The 19-year-old young man who looks and sounds every bit like a young woman was a smash hit on “Happy Boy” [“2010快乐男声”], China’s all-male talent show equivalent to “American Idol.”  (Liu Zhu can be seen performing on the show in a video here.) 

His name returns more than 19 million results hits on leading Chinese search engine Baidu while his blog has received 3 million hits. 

In a previous talent show this year, Xu Long, a boy known as “Tongtong,” also became famous because of his cross-dressing. 

Thanks to the them and the sensation they have created, there is a buzzword in China: “Weiniang.” [伪娘] (Google the Chinese phrase to turn up photos of “Weiniang”.) 

The word has entered Chinese from the Japanese word “Nisemusume” and refers to comely boys with a female appearance after they dress up.  The Japanese word is popularly used in comics and dramas. 

 But the boys are not necessarily homosexuals. 

Bu Wenxi, a “Weiniang” from Shenyang, capital of northeast China’ s Liaoning Province, describes himself as outgoing.  Most people cannot understand to preference to cross dress. Most of his friends are male. 

He says he doesn’t appreciate Liu Zhu parading himself for the media. 

“Cross dressing is just a personal preference and you don’t have to go around telling everyone that you are ‘Weiniang.’  Liu just wants to be famous and all he has done is sell himself,” Bu said. 

Different from Bu Wenxi, a college “Weiniang” named Niuniu, from Chengdu, capital city of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, declined to disclose his name because he worries most people view Weiniang with disfavor. 

Niuniu has inner desire to be a girl, rather than being just interested in cross dressing  –  “I have wanted to be a girl since I was a child,” said Niuniu.  “But I have had to compromise because I received little support from those around me.” 

He had a chance to live his life once he entered college – but he felt embarrassed between choosing the male or female dormitory. 

Niuniu is in favor of Liu Zhu – “Liu gave more opportunity for Weiniang to show themselves.  I really admire Liu for his bravery,”  Niuniu said. 

 

“I prefer hanging out with girls, who could understand me better than boys,” said Niuniu. 

Many girls respect “Weiniang” with their open minded perspectives. 

Juliet, a French student, even said she was proud to have a “Weiniang” as her friend as they are unique in way of living. 

“We French people don’t care.  It is just an individual’s lifestyle.  The only criterion to choose friends should be the person’s morality; not their lifestyle,” she said. 

“But they are, at most, a unique male friend and not a girl friend,” said Jin Wen, a 25-year-old Chinese girl. 

Scholars and music experts have their views, too. 

“Teen boys may try this cross-dressing, especially after the intense media exposure.  But at this age, they are still establishing their ideas about gender and may be too eager to be different,” said Dr. Li Wendao, a psychologist at Capital Normal University in Beijing. 

Li wrote a book, “Saving Boys,” published in 2009, that expressed deep concerns about the problems of Chinese boys.  Feminization was one of the major problems. 

“Boys and girls should learn from each other while maintaining their own gender traits.  Blind imitation can only result in the erosion of their abilities,” Li said. 

Yang Dongping, a professor of education at Beijing Institute of Technology, says “Weiniang” are just the latest pop culture wave that will recede almost as quickly as it has come. 

“The aesthetic standard held by Chinese people, including young boys, is rooted deep in Chinese culture.  And it will hardly change because of a small group of ‘pseudo-girls,'” Yang said. 

On the other hand, some call for tolerance of “Weiniang”. 

“Everyone, including ‘pseudo-girls,’ has the right to express themselves. They may not be good singers or dressers, but their existence should not be denied,” said Ding Taisheng, a judge in last year’s all-female singing competition “Happy Girls.” 

He also said the media should not exaggerate the phenomenon. 

“Our society is diversified, but we can regard this as entertainment.” 

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