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.
Bushen (Nourishing the Kidney), Shugan (Smoothing out the Liver), or Taking the Great Brother (Viagra)
2015. "Bushen (Nourishing the Kidney), Shugan (Smoothing out the Liver), or Taking the Great Brother (Viagra)", The Impotence Epidemic: Men’s Medicine and Sexual Desire in Contemporary China, Everett Yuehong Zhang
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This chapter deals with the repositioning of TCM in response to the biological turn. The debate is introduced between two schools of impotence diagnoses and treatment in TCM—the kidney-centered perspective and the liver-centered perspective—revealing the pressure to reposition TCM vis-à-vis biomedicine because of the latter’s ascendance. The entry of Viagra into the Chinese market intensified the pressure. Faced with the choice between Chinese medicine and Viagra, men did not completely abandon TCM for biomedicine. Instead, many patients switched between the two, taking both Viagra and herbal remedies. In doing so, they both satisfied sexual desire and cultivated potency, embodying two types of ethical regimes, showing the resilience of TCM on the one hand and growing cosmopolitanism on the other hand.