News & Opinion | September 3, 2021 11:55 am

China Bans “Effeminate Men” From Appearing on TV

The country's government vows to "resolutely put an end to sissy men" as part of a broad national crackdown

A man adjusts a television screen showing a live broadcast of former Chinese president Hu Jintao speaking at the opening of the 18th Communist Party Congress, at a supermarket in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province on 8 November 2012.
China's latest autocratic move bans so-called "effeminate" men from TV.
AFP via Getty Images

As part of what President Xi Jinping is describing as a “national rejuvenation” to promote “revolutionary culture,” the Chinese government announced on Thursday that it will ban men it sees as not sufficiently masculine from appearing on television, according to the Associated Press.

The move is part of an effort to “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” the country’s National Radio and TV Administration said, using “niang pao,” an insulting slang term for effeminate men that literally translates to “girlie guns.”

The effort to butch up Chinese TV is part of a broad crackdown on celebrity culture by the government. In addition to the ban on men deemed too effeminate, broadcasters must also avoid promoting “vulgar internet celebrities” and any sort of admiration of wealth and celebrity. Instead, regulators say they must focus on shows that “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture, and advanced socialist culture.”

As the AP reports, these new, outrageous masculinity standards may be influenced by “official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, fashionable look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.”

It remains to be seen how Chinese pop stars will react to the new rule. Will they change the way they present themselves just to preserve their ability to appear on TV, or will they remain true to themselves but accept the fact that they’ll only be able to reach a limited audience? Either way, it’s insane that it has come to this.