Tragic Romance and Translating Homosexuality
One of the features of the “schoolgirl romances” that Martin describes includes an anxious Western sexual culture that is unable to rule the contemporary teenager. It is uncertain how inconsistent behaviors that Western teenagers display are possible to transform into Chinese contexts over specific periods. The Chinese view same-sex desires as a complex, transcultural amalgam that occurs because of European sexual orientations and inclinations. Gender and sexuality form a significant part of teenage life, which begins to form at different developmental stages. The main objective of the characters was to offer insight into traditional Chinese love stories and understanding of same-sex narratives.
Schoolgirl romances are progressive because they encourage girls to pursue their sexual desires. Sang quotes, “Recreating oneself as a modern subject necessitated firmly rejecting the traditional husband wife relationship with its basis in familial hierarchy and hidebound ritual and instead “freeing” oneself for modern romantic love with its contrasting emphasis on interior, individualized sentiment and desire” (39). In the narrative, girls engage in profane behaviors, such as lesbianism, which is a large part of the contemporary era. Feudal sex and gender relations are undergoing significant transformations, as evident in the current accommodation of heterosexual and homosexual orientations. European sexology has acted as a source of this transformation in the Chinese context based on the narratives and poems that scholars have written to acknowledge this change. The 1920s witnessed an increase in fictitious content and publications regarding sexual orientation due to the level of entertainment it provided to the readers and listeners. Ideological content was the beginning of new sexual behaviors among young people.
The “universalizing model of the temporary schoolgirl lover” and “the minoritizing understanding of the lifelong tomboy” as evident in the publication, seeks to reinforce the level of sexual orientation and changes in Chinese society. The initial statement implies that the temporary schoolgirl lover is a universal concept that exists in Europe and other regions. It places a closer lens on some of the elements that have heightened the narratives of various participants, including influences from the traditional era. The second statement reflects on how society has ignored the presence of women with a male sexual orientation.
Sang believes that traditional Chinese writers and scholars played an instrumental role in changing the sexual perceptions of the people. According to the publication, the writers presented a coalition and cross-cultural comprehension of European sexual perceptions and activities as universally accepted behaviors. Translators of the publications failed to understand the implications of their actions in the future of the country and the people. Their perception of Western theories regarding sex orientation was prominent in the pursuit of sexual freedom among men and women in China during the traditional epoch. Sang quotes, “Translations of homosexual materials received a certain degree of open-mindedness concerning the issue of homosexuality and sexual freedom” (106). Sang agrees with the notion that China imported Western psychological ideas extensively.
Sang presents a unique argument regarding the conceptions of sexuality in China. According to his intellectual interpretation, Sang believed that the Chinese people believed in sexuality as a changeable and temporary obsession. He also believed that the people referred to it as an elucidation of taste and social status, rather than an identity. The translation of Western sexological discourse into Chinese narratives and publications sought to advance the country’s cultural and social approach towards modernization. In this case, translators functioned as intellectuals who played an essential role in the interaction and development of knowledge structures across different cultures.
Zhang Jingsheng, “Dr. Sex,” was a sexologist and academic who created a platform for the analysis and discussion of sex in traditional Chinese society. Most of his work during the conventional epoch was profane because of his contribution to sex education and understanding. He translated “Confessions” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the sexology of Havelock Ellis and Marie Stopes, arguing that the authors needed to undergo inclusion in Chinese culture. Pan Guangdan was a sociologist that contributed to the intellectual distribution of eugenics in China. The “Republican Era” view of homosexuality defined a situation when China began associating with Western concepts.
Top of Form
Martin, Fran. Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary. Duke UP, 2010.
Sang, Tze-Lan. Translating Homosexuality: The Discourse of TongXing AI in Republic China. “Tokens of Exchange, 1999, 276-304.
Bottom of Form
 See Martin chapter 1 for insightful information on the subject.
 See Martin chapter 48 for an illustration of the concepts.