Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China

Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China

Tiantian Zheng

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0816659036

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In China today, sex work cannot be untangled from the phenomenon of ruralOCourban migration, the entertainment industry, and state power. In Red Lights, Tiantian Zheng highlights the urban karaoke bar as the locus at which these three factors intersect and provides a rich account of the lives of karaoke hostessesOCoa career whose name disguises the sex work and minimizes the surprising influence these women often have as power brokers. Zheng embarked on two years of intensely embedded ethnographic fieldwork in her birthplace, Dalian, a large northeastern Chinese seaport of over six million people. During this time, Zheng lived and worked with a group of hostesses in a karaoke bar, facing many of the same dangers that they did and forming strong, intimate bonds with them. The result is an especially engaging, moving story of young, rural women struggling to find meaning, develop a modern and autonomous identity, and, ultimately, survive within an oppressively patriarchal state system. Moving from her case studies to broader theories of sex, gender, and power, Zheng connects a growth in capitalist entrepreneurialism to the emergence of an urban sex industry, brilliantly illuminating the ways in which hostesses, their clients, and the state are mutually created in postsocialist China. "





















personalities.59 These characteristics are said to induce their liberal ideas regarding chastity and their voluntary choice of prostitution.60 State, popular, and intellectual representations condemn hostesses’ voluntary engagement in the sex business as influenced by Western spiritual pollution and the abnormal psychology and biology of the women. Scholars provide social and scientific authority to regulate the transgressive behavior of hostesses. These scholars in recently rehabilitated

and had undergone a dramatic modernization revolution on her own, the Meiji Restoration. During the 1930s, Japan would use the rhetoric of Confucianism against China to justify Japanese aggression. The following quotation from Matsuoka Yosuke is a good example of this: 40 Patriarchy, Prostitution, and Masculinity One thing is clear even to a donkey running along an Asian highway: constant and hearty cooperation between the peoples of Japan and China . . . alone can work out the destiny of

maximize your chance to be chosen. Your dress expenditure will eventually be covered. No investment, no gains. In addition, you have to exercise singing and dancing, walking and speaking skills. You have to develop returning clients. Then you will gain profits not only for the bar, but also for yourselves. As a man myself, I know that a man easily gets bored with a hostess after she goes offstage with him. So if you are smart, you will not do it for the first few times. He will then have to come

his parents were beaten to death in a Maoist struggle session. As I now know, they were only two of more than three million landlords who died violently in the name of social justice. The question was never whether they were personally just; the only question was one of class. For this there was only one answer, a fatal one. Although I was born into a world where ancestors and family past were crucial in defining one’s self, my past had disappeared before my birth. Not even pictures of my

into the corner. At this point her aunt bolted upright exclaiming, “What are you doing? How can you do this to my new end table and clean floor? The end table is completely new, and I just cleaned the floor! Get your feet off!” Embarrassed, Dee silently removed her feet. Dee was a contrast to Fragrance. She was nearly a head shorter than Fragrance, with quick darting actions and a volatile intensity. Unlike Fragrance’s mother, her mother is aware of her true profession in the city and wanted Dee to

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