Collateral damage – Neither comrades nor spouses

Published: May 18, 2010

Collateral damage – Neither comrades nor spouses

“THERE are three ways of being an unfilial son,” argued Mencius, an ancient Confucian philosopher. “The most serious is to have no heir.” The desire for male descendants has had many baleful consequences in China, and in recent years one that used to be hidden has come to light. Millions upon millions of women are trapped in loveless and often miserable marriages to homosexual men. Thanks to the internet their cries for help have been heard widely enough in mainstream culture to earn their plight a commonly accepted abbreviation. They are known as “tongqi”, combing the words “tongzhi”, or comrade, Chinese slang for “gay”, with “qizi”, meaning “wife” in Mandarin.

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