Word of the Week: Straight Man Cancer

The  comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens or encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

zhí nán ái 直男癌

Straight man cancer. (Source: Douban)

Straight man cancer. (Source: Douban)

Brazen machismo or heterosexual male chauvinism; conservative, misogynistic viewpoint.

“Straight man cancer” describes the outspoken misogyny and entitlement of many men (and some ) in China. The “disease” first appeared on Weibo and Douban in June 2014, gaining traction in response to several sexist Weibo posts by philosopher Zhou Guoping in January 2015. Zhou wrote that “love and childrearing” matter the most to women “in their hearts,” and that women who deny this essential ambition lose their beauty in his eyes. Straight man cancer also infected Baidu on March 8 of that year, presenting as a “doodle” of a ballerina in a music box. It was a far cry from the illustration of Chinese women as doctors, athletes, and astronauts the search engine had commissioned and later scrapped.

In May 2016, scholar and PLA officer Wang Weixing was diagnosed with straight man cancer after he claimed that Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, has a short-sighted, “emotional” approach to politics because she is single.

lexicon_2015_cover_draft_3_thumbnailCan’t get enough of subversive Chinese netspeak? Check out “Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang,” our ebook of dozens of new terms and classic catchphrases, presented in a new, image-rich format. Available for pay-what-you-want (including nothing). All proceeds support CDT.