(keeping a female secretary-cum-lover)
Probably originating in Beijing in the 1980s, the term xiaomi refers to a young female secretary hired by a male boss in a private company more for her looks and sexual companionship than for her skills as a worker. It is unclear how common the practice was in reality, but the term was widely employed in conversation, fiction and humour. As a stereotype about gender relations in the reform era, the character of the xiaomi represents a sexualization of female labour also connoted in other terms, such as the xiaojie (miss, hostess or waitress), the nü gongguan (public relations girl), or even the bailing nüxing (white-collar woman). Xiaomi is also one of several popular names for mistresses of rich men, including jinsiniao (caged bird or kept woman) and ernai (second wife). These terms reflect both the reality of women’s sexual commodification in the market economy and a popular interest in the various new sexual strategies of young Chinese women.
Less apparent perhaps, the xiaomi also represents stereotypes about male sexuality in the reform era, particularly the uncontrolled sexual appetite of the private entrepreneur, often derogatively referred to as the dakuan (big money). Such stereotypes were part of a larger moral dialogue about the unrestrained nature of personal choices in the market era. Chinese employed such labels to negotiate the boundaries between acceptable strategies of self-promotion and dating and unacceptable strategies that bordered on prostitution or sexual exploitation.
See also: bao ernai; xiahai
Farrer, James. 2002. Opening Up: Youth Sex Culture and Market Reform in Shanghai. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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