Dual ambivalence: The Untamed Girls as a counterpublic

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The male-male romance web series The Untamed reached a height of media interest in the summer of 2019 in China. Numerous Chinese young women were obsessed with the drama centred on the relationship between the two male protagonists, and many fan followers identified themselves as ‘The Untamed Girls’. Through online observation of young female fans of the male-male romance web series, this study articulates how they were self-organised as a counterpublic and utilised strategic ways to negotiate with the party-state censorship. Drawing upon the conceptualisation of ‘ambivalence’, the study analyses a dual ambivalence in their collective actions. It is argued that The Untamed Girls’ participation as a popular feminist project is, however constantly intertwined with an assumption of heteronormativity and an internalised misogyny, where these seemingly empowered women are simultaneously reaffirming a heterosexual regulation of sexual desires and devaluing women when they celebrate the male-male romance embodied in such a drama series.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1033
Number of pages13
JournalMedia Culture & Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2022


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