Slightly Bent


I launched my new book The Afterglow of Women’s Pornography in Post-Digital China in the ACO book store in Hong Kong. It was a cathartic kind of event, as the launch can be for the author who finally exits a space of desolation and mental exhaustion while trying to communicate with the outer world. Egret Chow delivered a testimony about being labeled  “left-over woman” in mainland China–the class of women who defy the patriotic push to marry and procreate.

In my book I also write about ghost fictions and propose a notion of phantom feminism based on Jack Halberstam’s theory of shadow feminism and Judith Zeitlin’s feminist reading of ancient ghost stories.(1) I had a chat about this with Ling Tang, a Ph.D. student in sociology who could not endorse “phantom feminism” and perhaps believed that I should be more attentive to the material realm of sexual relations and sexual politics. But then I have been stuck inside the porn0-mediated-realm for a while and still believe in its unique affect.

Hence there is a chapter pornographic Boys’ Love manga and online fictions, the extensive subcultures of women’s gay erotica that have very little to do with their embodied sexual practices. The news media have recently tried to probe the complex erotic fantasies of these “straight” woman but straight is also an inadequate label. In Australia they used to label it “bent”–these women and their fantasies are not straight, not lesbian, not trans, not perv, but just slightly bent.


(1) Zeitlin, Judith (1994) “Shared Dreams: The Story of the Three Wives’ Commentary on the Peony Pavillion,” In Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 54:1, pp. 127-179; Zeitlin, Judith T (2007) The Phantom Heroine: Ghosts and Gender in 17th Century Chinese Literature, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press.