From Yin to “Yellow”
This chapter presents a history of sexual representations in China, from classical “bedchamber arts” to Ming–Qing fiction and the pictorial magazines, translated books, and nude images at the turn of the twentieth century. The chapter shows that neither the early modern challenge to yin nor the global modern pornographic turn entirely overwrote older regimes of sexual politics and older forms of commodified sexual representations. The evolution of pornography has been a dialectical process. The chapter then presents further evidence that the global modern pornographic paradigm begun at the turn of the twentieth century continues to shape desires and discourse a century later. It traces the semantic evolution of the term huangse, “yellow,” and explores how pornography's global turn affected the legacies of some of the sexual representations discussed in previous chapters. Following a survey of these legacies in the Mao era and in contemporary China, the chapter ends on a speculative note, returning to the ethical questions raised in the introduction: Should we see pornography as a means of liberation that transcended yin ideology's fundamentally elitist model of legitimacy and power?
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