The Emerging Lesbian
Female Same-Sex Desire in Modern China
In this first ever book-length study of Chinese lesbians, Tze-lan D. Sang convincingly ties the debate over female same-sex love in China to the emergence of Chinese modernity. As women's participation in social, economic, and political affairs grew, Sang argues, so too did the societal significance of their romantic and sexual relations. Focusing especially on literature by or about women-preferring women, Sang traces the history of female same-sex relations in China from the late imperial period (1600-1911) through the Republican era (1912-1949). She ends by examining the reemergence of public debate on lesbians in China after Mao and in Taiwan after martial law, including the important roles played by globalization and identity politics.
“[Sang’s] detailed contextualization of the moments on which the book focuses is exemplary, as is her command of a range of secondary literatures—from Western theories of sexuality to Chinese representations of erotic love in late imperial, Republican, and contemporary Chinese sources. . . . [A] rich contribution to our understanding of gender relations in twentieth-century China, global economies of sexual knowledge, and the lived experience of lesbianism in transnational China today.”