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A wen-wu approach to male teenage Chinese sports fans’ heteronormative interpretation of masculinity

Peng, A., Chen, T. ORCID: 0000-0003-2450-277X & Chen, S. (2023). A wen-wu approach to male teenage Chinese sports fans’ heteronormative interpretation of masculinity. Feminist Review,


This article analyses how performatively heteronormative, male teenage Chinese fans consume sports games through the prism of masculinity, using secondary school students’ engagement with the NBA (National Basketball Association) as a case study. Drawing on focus groups of 23 participants, we discover that male teenage sports fans constantly evoke elite NBA athletes as male ideals to define a desirable, heteronormative wen-wu masculinity specific to the post-reform era. In this process, they often engage in a double-standard practice, manifesting as their appropriation of the CP (coupling) rhetoric to “ship” athletes and their problematisation of heterosexual women and LGBTQ fans’ similar usage of it. This double-standard practice constitutes an attempt to monopolise the interpretation of masculinity both within and outside of the sporting context. It sheds light on the heteronormative male cohort’s rejection of alternative masculinities, underscoring how aspects of gender politics unfolding in wider society are reflected in China’s teenage sports fandom.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses.
Publisher Keywords: basketball, China, CP, masculinity, NBA, slash imagination, sports fandom
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Media & Communications
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