Being Bad to Feel Good : China's Migrant Men, Displaced Masculinity, and the Commercial Sex Industry

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-237
Journal / PublicationJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number122
Online published21 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020



The plight of male migrant workers in China warrants critical attention because their diminished opportunity for life success has created a public health issue. To cope with hopelessness and despair they engage in risky behaviors involving paid sex and drugs. This article extends Connell 's notion of hegemonic masculinity, linking urban migration with a rampant 'masculinity crisis' engul?ng these single migrant men. Interviews with 100 male migrants who admitted to regularly buying commercial sex in low-end and mid-tier bars revealed underlying cultural tensions which drive them to use paid sex and drugs to help them cope with their emasculated reality. This article facilitates understanding of China's masculinity crisis against the backdrop of the nation's post-socialist transition in a wider social, cultural, and historical structure.

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