Identity and Gender Binary: Stigma towards Male in a Chinese Online Affirmative Action


During the novel coronavirus epidemic, Chinese official information channel has covered a large scale of reports about workers, doctors and some other front-line staffs of this PHEIC. But some argue that male workers have much higher proportion than females, and male-centered narrative are said to be existing. The topic of 'seeing female workers' were launched on Weibo, asking official information channel to report and praise more for female workers. And some even labeled male workers with qualities like 'domineering', 'arbitrary' and so on. It is an obvious attempting of stigma that is the starting point of social discrimination and makes men considered having certain qualities to be insulted or derogated from. Those who did it intended to fight for the rights of female, but somehow showed the attitude of derogation, alienation and hostility towards men. And this phenomenon reveals the reconstruction of duality between two genders. The Data of the Third Survey on the Social Status of Chinese Women shows that the gender perception in China are in a state between traditional and modern, and that women's gender perceptions are generally better modernized. The voice of supporting female workers can be seemed as the rising consciousness of female rights and gender equality.

While most of the previous related studies focused on the situation of women under inequality, this study maintains a rational critique of discourse in cyberspace based on the idea of non-binary, and opposes treating gender as hostility or exclusion from a theoretical perspective. This study employs critical discourse analysis to scrutinize the texts on Weibo, the largest network public opinion field in China. In formed by the concept of stigma and the non-binary spectrums, this paper works on the representation of female workers in public emergencies in People's Daily and criticizes the inappropriate use of stigma and the deconstruction of gender duality. The concept of gender does not just represent the physical differences between men and women, but is constructed to a concept with socialized essential characteristics. People need to identify with their gender identity by acting in accordance with those characteristics. The patriarchal society affirmed males' subjective status and constructed females as the other that possessed the opposite characteristics to men. This contrast brought the concept of gender duality. With the development of feminism and gender affirmative action, this duality was criticized and dispelled. However, this time in China, the advocacy of feminism was accompanied by the voice of stigma towards men, and with that, the dualistic concept of gender was reconstructed from the perspective of women as the subject. Understanding such reconstruction can help us to gain a deeper understanding on gender relations, gender identity and even the concept of gender, and it will help us to examine the phenomena and behaviors in the process of gender affirmative action from a different perspective.