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Reinventing LicentiousnessPornography and Modern China$
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Y. Yvon Wang

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752971

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752971.001.0001

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Plus c’est la même chose

Plus c’est la même chose

Reinventing Licentiousness for a New Age

(p.154) Chapter 5 Plus c’est la même chose
Reinventing Licentiousness

Y. Yvon Wang

Cornell University Press

This chapter shows that despite — indeed, because of — the democratization of desire and access to sexual representations, individuals continued seeking authoritative positions from which to pronounce judgments on the desires of others. The chapter revisits examples raised as new developments in the previous chapters: depictions of women in public, nationalistic commentaries on The Plum in the Golden Vase (hereafter Plum), campaigns to rescue folk songs and lyric books, the furor around female nudes, and elite consumption of sexology as a status symbol. In each case, the chapter shows how new classifications worked and addresses why it seemed so necessary to continue excluding certain categories of desire and their bearers from legitimacy. It also explains why attempts to replace the hierarchy of licentiousness with a new order were vulnerable as never before. Ultimately, the chapter presents another view of Zhang Jingsheng's publications on sex, showing that his peers attacked these works to defend themselves from the former ally they increasingly saw as a threat to their own expertise.

Keywords:   desire, sexual representations, The Plum in the Golden Vase, sexology, female nudes, licentiousness, sex, Zhang Jingsheng

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