Using multiple methods and qualitative research design (including analysis of online dating profiles, digital ethnography, and in-depth interviews), I examine the discriminatory nature and mechanism of youzhi (優質), a neoliberal discourse widespread on the Chinese gay dating platform “Blued.” This paper also explores how users interpret the connotations of youzhi and utilize it while justifying and normalizing the usage. My findings consider that the discourse of youzhi can integrate a variety of human qualities and generate a hierarchy with establishing an image of first-class citizens in the Chinese gay community. Specifically on Blued, the connotation of youzhi has been reframed into a one-sided, superficial variant through the site’s pre-configurated attributes and marketing promotions. This underlines the sexual and erotic capital with physical aspects of gay hegemonic masculinity as the currency. Given its discriminatory essence, which could risk the user’s desirability, youzhi is still widely utilized on Blued to deter the ones lacking sexual capital from contacting, promote the user’s image, and attract the ones who meet the stringent beauty standards. Based on my findings, the users rationalize and normalize these actions as solely following the logic of how Blued is configured and what it has constantly promoted.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Clinical Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science