The Impotence Epidemic: Men’s Medicine and Sexual Desire in Contemporary China
Everett Yuehong Zhang is Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies and Anthropology at Princeton University. He is the co-editor of Governance of Life in Chinese Moral Experience: The Quest for an Adequate Life, and co-author of Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person.
Impotence, Family, and Women
This chapter focuses on impotent men’s social relationships in two specific contexts: with natal families and with women. The phenomenon of “imagined impotence,” in which men who had little sexual experience with women considered themselves impotent, is examined, suggesting that the intervention of a father in a son’s romance and marriage had a negative impact on the son’s potency. A number of cases show a wide range of women’s feelings, attitudes, and coping strategies when living with impotent men. Special attention is paid to bodily details of consequence to sexual intercorporeality that add up to big changes in the subjectivity of men and women. Particularly revealing is the emergence of a new type of masculinity that allows men and women to find sexual fulfillment in nonphallocentric ways.