Warp, Weft, and Way

Chinese and Comparative Philosophy 中國哲學與比較哲學

Confucius on gay marriage

Bryan W. Van Norden comments here.

July 13th, 2015 Posted by | Confucianism, Confucius, In the News | 4 comments

4 Responses to Confucius on gay marriage

  1. Steve Angle says:

    Great essay, Bryan!

    On-line discussion of this issue continues apace in China, with most views posted at “Confucianism Net (儒家网)” arguing that, for various reasons, Confucians should not support gay marriage. See http://www.rujiazg.com/category/type/9/small/52/.

  2. I am glad that someone called out Justice Scalia’s dimestore Orientalism here!

    That said, I would have appreciated somewhat more meaty discussion on other aspects of Confucian relationship-morality (how do the five relationships relate, for example, given that Confucius normatively relegated sex to the husband-wife one?) and how these interface with institutions.

    I think it’s a point well-made that the Chinese had a high tolerance for homosexuality, but it’s a stretch to say they would have institutionally condoned it. Jiang Qing, for one, makes the argument that homosexual relationships should be tolerated, but that they should not be recognised by the state; Kang Youwei, on the other hand, argues for state recognition of homosexual relationships in Datongshu.

    Anyway, just my two cents there.

    • Max Fong says:

      I think Matt raises some interesting points on the acceptance of homosexuality in China. To add:

      1. There are several idioms and references that have etymologies going back to dynastic China which are references to homosexual relationships (龙阳之好/habits of Longyang,分桃之爱/split peach love, 断袖/broken sleeves). Another thing I thought that was interesting is that the Chinese folk god of homosexuality is called 兔子神 lit. Rabbit Spirit. So it’s clear that there’s a concept of homosexuality in pre-modern China, albeit both modern Chinese and foreign viewers might not be sure how to reconstruct it.

      2. There are passages in pre-modern Chinese literature with homosexual overtones. In one of the Four Great Books of Chinese literature, Dream of the Red Chamber, there is a scene that insinuates coitus between the protagonist Baoyu, and his best friend Qingzhong. So it’s more than just spurious references, there’s a real concept there which needs digging.

      Of course, it seems that these were never institutionalized norms, as I think Matt might have been alluded to. I’m very curious as to how this conception changes with China’s transition into modernity.

  3. Bill Haines says:

    It is a great essay, in substance and craftsmanship.

    To the Hinsch link I’d add this:
    http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/L/bo11065214.html

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