John Nguyet Erni is Chair Professor in Humanities and Head of the Department of Humanities & Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. An elected Fellow and Member of the Executive of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities, he has published widely on international and Asia-based cultural studies, human rights legal criticism, Chinese consumption of transnational culture, gender and sexuality in media culture, youth popular consumption in Hong Kong and Asia, and critical public health. His recent books include (In)visible Colors: Images of Non-Chinese in Hong Kong Cinema – A Filmography, 1970s – 2010s (with Louis Ho, Cinezin Press, forthcoming in 2016); Visuality, Emotions, and Minority Culture (forthcoming in 2016, Springer); Understanding South Asian Minorities in Hong Kong (with Lisa Leung, HKUP, 2014); and Cultural Studies of Rights: Critical Articulations (Routledge, 2011). Currently, he is completing a book project on the legal modernity of rights.
“Sex, ‘Vulgar Youth,’ and Masculinity in the Chatroom: The Case of the Hong Kong Golden Forum”
This essay provides a discussion of the problematization of sexual discourse in a fairly vast (albeit somewhat underground) segment of Hong Kong society, and of related questions of gender, misogyny, and sexual freedom. Through examining the highly popular practice of internet-based “sex chatting,” I attempt to theorize the rapidly changing forms, norms, and values of sex as an important facet of internet chatting culture. Internet-based “sex chat” refers to the casual exchange of vernacular views about sexual beliefs, rumors, and behavior. I ground this study in a detailed empirical netnographic study of the Hong Kong Golden Forum, a highly popular internet chat site in a city known to have a vibrant culture of internet forum chatting. I ask how the themes and language of “sex chat” contribute to the construction of a “vernacular masculine culture” unique to youth culture in Hong Kong. Like a colloquial language, the notion of “vernacular masculinity” speaks the idiom of the curious, the obscene, and even the vulgar. It is hoped that this ethnographic study can help to reframe our theoretical and political understanding of sexual values shaped by a profoundly quotidian source of meaning-making.