Gender Studies Programme - Wednesday Gender Seminars

 

Spring 2022

Co-presented by: Gender Studies Programme, Gender Research Centre & Sexualities Research Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

9 Nov 2022 (Wed) Employing domestic workers and gender gap in domestic labor among working parents: An effective strategy?

 

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At last Wednesday seminar, Prof. Adam Cheung presented his research on how live-in foreign domestic workers (FDW) help reduce unpaid domestic labor for dual-earning parents in Hong Kong.

Consisting of 4-5% of HK population, FDWs play an unignorable role in HK society, and around 1/5 married population in HK live with a domestic worker. While research on FDWs’ living/working conditions flourished, limited studies have investigated the changes they brought to the employer families. Prof. Cheung therefore shifted the research focus to the hiring families. He also pointed out that, the well-established time-saving effect of the labor outsourcing nature of hiring domestic workers might not be applied to Hong Kong context for two reasons. Firstly, live-in domestic workers could generate more management tasks for the employers. Secondly, the prevailing intensive-parenting beliefs might hinder the delegation of all childcare tasks to the domestic workers, that is the delegation-involvement paradox. Instead, the time saved in housework might be taken up by the parents to do more childcare/management tasks, producing a time-displacement effect. As the emotional and communal nature of proposed new tasks, a gendered labor pattern might be expected.

Prof. Cheung’s study used a two-stage mixed-method design. The quantitative data of a representative sample of working parents (N=791, Nwith live-in help=265) suggested a time-displacement effect of live-in domestic help. Although paid help significantly reduced the time parents spent on housework, parents with live-in domestic workers spent around 3 hours more per week in unpaid labor than did those without paid help. The increased labor involved managing the domestic worker and childcare. The following in-depth interviews (N = 20) revealed parents’ subjective perception of the use of live-in domestic help as a strategy to achieve better parenting. In terms of gendered labor division, with a live-in helper, working mothers saved more time in housework but also had a larger burden of management and childcare than working fathers. No effect of hiring live-in help on diminishing gender inequality was founded, and working mothers had a higher total labor hours than fathers in both conditions.

Written by: TANG Xiaolei

 

Employing foreign domestic workers and gender gap in domestic labor among working parents: An Effective Strategy

The use of live-in domestic labor is popular among dual-earning parents. Around one-third of dual-earning parents in Hong Kong currently hire live-in domestic helpers. This study provides a critical examination of the time-saving hypothesis from the domestic outsourcing literature on the roles of hiring live-in help for household labor and situates the time-saving effect in the literature of intensive parenting. The research uses mixed method, analyzes quantitative data from a representative household survey to investigate the association between employing live-in domestic help and time spent by the working fathers and mothers on housework, childcare, and tasks related to managing domestic helpers, and also analyzes qualitative data from in-depth interviews of first-hand experiences about the role of hiring help in household labor to unpack the meaning of hiring help and its relationship with the notion and practices of parenting.

The findings suggest that the use of live-in domestic help is a specialization strategy to strive for perfection in parenting for parents. By outsourcing household chores and more routinized childcare tasks to the helpers, working parents, especially mothers, can focus on emotional bonding and tasks conducive to the development of their children. Working parents hiring live-in domestic work spent significantly fewer hours in housework, however, the reduced time in housework is totally replaced by the increased time on childcare and managing the helper. The time-saving effect of using domestic help is stronger for women than for men but it does not reduce gender inequality, mothers took up most of the new role of managing domestic helpers to deal with both household chores and routinized childcare work. Parenting strategies, though, are more intensified on the part of the mothers. The gender gap still exists.

Written by: ZHANG Mengya

 

Although there has been a lot of research on FDWs (Foreign Domestic Workers) in Hong Kong recently, Professor Cheung's research is very refreshing. Unlike other places of the world, Hong Kong has a tradition of employing live-in FDWs rather than flexible helpers for domestic outsourcing, which means that the former has a higher threshold, is more inflexible, and requires the employer's family to spend more time negotiating with and managing. Also, Hong Kong is a well-known city for its culture of intensive parenting. Many Hong Kong parents will consider hiring FDWs as a strategy to practice their intensive parenting. 

Based on domestic outsourcing and intensive parenting, Professor Cheung has studied the time-use patterns between Hong Kong families with and without FDWS through a mixed-method of quantitative and qualitative research and has come up with conclusions that are different from previous research. He found that the time-saving effects of domestic outsourcing are overestimated, and the time-displacement fits Hong Kong’s condition more. In Hong Kong, hiring FDWS does save parents (mainly mothers) some time in housework, but the time of child-care and managing helper increase. Due to the expectation of intensive mothering, these two tasks are still gendered and mothers always do more, which indicates hiring help cannot enhance gender equality. 

In my opinion, Professor Cheung's research perspective and findings are very inspiring. As someone interested in domestic outsourcing in mainland China, I have only focused on work-family time conflicts in the family, but not aware of the chores-childcare conflicts (especially for mothers). In addition, Professor Cheung also emphasizes the importance of the ideology of intensive parenting. In mainland China, the role of FDWs is usually taken by grandparents. However, after the abolition of extra-curricular classes, will parents' anxiety turn into a form of intensive parenting and prompt them to hire young educated helpers to do the child-care work? This is still underexplored and deserves our attention.

All in all, I really enjoyed this seminar and it gave me a lot of inspiration for my research.

Written by: ZHANG Xunyue

 

 

5 Oct 2022 (Wed) Gender Research Centre Orientation Talk: Honour Based Violence: Minority Women As Agents of Change

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At Gender Research Center Orientation Talk on 5 October 2022, Dr. Raees Baig shared the research project Honour Based Violence: Minority Women as Agents of Change and presented a guidebook which is the product of this project.

During her involvement in local NGO’s investigation and assistance on domestic violence, she noticed that some Muslim women in Hong Kong were suffering from domestic violence because they were thought to brought shame to the family and community . She began to focus on their situation and try to connect with them. At the beginning she realized that Muslim women who had experienced honour-based violence, although they may not understand “honour-based violence” as an umbrella term, were able to share awareness of certain violence and poor power positions, while they also had a lot of confusion about marriage, sex and romantic relationships. Dr. Raees Baig then set up a workshop to give these women a platform to share their experiences and gender equality ideas, allowing them to connect the concepts and terms to their own experiences and identities.

However, the younger generation who have been subjected to honour-based violence are no longer passive victims, they have escaped from the official ideology through the internet and self-study of the Qur’an, and have learned about the political and religious contexts of their experience and many notions of gender equality. They try to escape their families or teach their families the new ideas they have embraced, in order to change the awful father-child relationship.

When asked if the project had helped to heal and empower the women victims, Dr. Raees Baig thought that it was important to give people who had experienced honour based violence or domestic violence more space to share their experiences, which helped them to realize and understand their situation. She also felt that their project has gone some way to challenging the global victimizing discourse of Islamic women by giving these women themselves the opportunity to speak about their effort to change the situation.

 

Written by: LI Xiangyi

 

A guidebook focusing on Honour-Based Violence (HBV) was shared in the seminar in order to address the issue of HBV of young Muslim women in Hong Kong. Their HBV experiences were revealed in the booklet, aiming to explore the way they interpreted their experiences in religious and cultural perspectives, and promisingly, initiating discussions and concerns on HBV cases in Hong Kong.

The seminar is facilitated by Dr. BAIG Raees Begum and moderated by Prof. CHENG Sea Ling in a Questions & Answers approach. Dr. BAIG first shared about the motivation behind the project, their interests in investigating how the young Muslim women perceive phenomenons such as domestic violence, HBV, forced marriage in their own words. Surprisingly, the younger generation has more thoughts on differentiating their culture and religion; they also have stronger mobility on their Muslim identities and their personal autonomy when comparing to the older generation who refused to relate themselves to sexual topics.

Dr. BAIG further explained the use of the word ‘honour’ and the underlying reason for young women being the agent of change but not victim-survivors of HBV. The ground of honour is strongly correlated with pride and reputation, in social contexts, on the other hand, honour also refers to standards and behavioural guidelines encouraged by the community. In fact, Dr. BAIG revealed that young women exposed to HBV are not only perpetrated by their father or other male relatives, female members sometimes play an assisting role in the process of HBV. HBV is therefore notably family-based in Islam culture.

Nonetheless the traumatic stress experienced by the young women, Dr. BAIG mentioned they expressed a longing for rebuilding their family’s relationship, breaking through these down the ages, agony family dynamics. With an eye to leap forward the family hierarchy, those brave women tried to regain their dignity in becoming a change agent instead of labelled as victim-survivors in their situations. They further share their self exploration process through this project to break the original Muslim teaching myth, meanwhile fighting for their identity of being a Muslim.

 

Written by: LI Yeuklam

 

The seminar on Oct 5th has been successfully held. Compared with the previous seminars, this one has some special components. First is the orientation of Gender Research Center. The GRC is an organization specializing in gender issues at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Prof. Lynn demonstrated the academic and practical achievements of the GRC by presenting the center's past research projects, book publications, workshops, and other activities and it was committed to recruiting members for this seminar. The second part is Dr. BAIG Raees Begum’s sharing of her 2-year project of the honour-based violence (HBV) focus on the non-Chinese Muslim young women in Hong Kong, also the publication of the guidebook based on the real experience and cases of the HBV investigated in this project.

What motivated Dr. Baig to conduct this project must be recalled from a social work experience that took place several years ago. At the time, Dr. BAIG was cooperated with one local NGO to work on domestic violence. During the work, they discovered that the situation could be religious and cultural ways. Although the previous generation of non-Chinese Muslims living locally in Hong Kong may not understand the ture meaning of the academic terms like “domestic violence” or “forced marriage”, they can express this sentiment in their own language. However, the young female generation, with the fully understanding of these term, strong self-identity, and highly opening thoughts of ideal relationship, tend to use their own voices to challenge the rigid culture. These young females started to subvert abuse and the inequalities they feel within their families. Hence the initial phase of this product: to create a platform for them to talk more about these concepts on gender issues.

Moving to the topic of “women as agents of change”in this scenario, Dr. Baig explained that from the interacting with these girls they really see how the girls grew up, how they changed their self-perceptions and how they changed their families, even if they were experiencing abuse and violence. Women in the domestic violence isn’t victims anymore, we can see how they breakthrough these situations and some of the cases the girls even developed the capacity to educating they parents and rebuild family bonds.

In summary, HBV is a form of family-based violence, and in Hong Kong society today, neither social work nor the legal system has a good solution to HBV and a host of other problems such as physical control and forced marriage. On the one hand, society should build on this, but on the other hand, we should also see how women in such domestic violence gradually developed to find their own way to defend themselves.

 

Written by: QIAN Xiaoxuan

 

21 Sep 2022 (Wed) Daughters’ Dilemmas: Family Strategies of Highly Educated Rural-Urban Education Migrants in Hubei Province, China

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Prof. SIER Willy, in her talk, revealed how female university graduates, as the first and only bachelor’s degree holder in her rural family, experienced various intersecting social processes that were shaped by both the structural condition of China’s social transformation and their dual roles, i.e., the role of daughters in the rural household, and the role of migrant female university graduates working in the city. The author conducted ethnographic research in Hubei province, one of China’s ‘big education provinces’ with rich educational resources and a huge number of university students. With the rapidly changing conditions in rural China and the expansion of China’s higher education system, university enrolment by young women of rural origin has increased exponentially. However, these young female ‘education migrants’ continue to struggle with the exclusion of rural citizens in cities and the entrenched patriarchal family culture in rural China. They are expected to use their gender and educational achievements to provide support to their families through their urban earnings and marriage. For instance, in one of the two cases that the speaker showed, the respondent’s mother required her to get married soon to somebody with a high bride price in order to finance her brother’s marriage. This case also revealed that those highly-educated female migrants’ contributions to their rural households resulted from elaborate negotiation processes with their family members. Additionally, the study emphasized that those highly-educated female education migrants from rural China are not a homogeneous group: one respondent was keen to pursue a career and maintain her independence, while another expressed her desire to help strengthen both her own and her family’s social and economic standings through marriage. Overall, gender, rurality, and migration are indicated to put multi-pressure on female university graduates from rural backgrounds, and their ‘education migration’ brought their intense negotiations with rural households, which reconfigure the gendered household dynamic in rural China.

 

Written by: GU Yuxuan

 

On September 21st, the Wednesday Seminar was successfully held, presented by Prof. Willy Sier, the assistant professor of the anthropology department of Utrecht University who has lived in mainland China for seven years.

Prof. Sier's pointed out that expanding urbanization and higher education opportunities have made education increasingly crucial for rural families. Hubei, a wealthy province with a well-established higher education system, was attracting an increasing influx of education migrants. During Prof. Sier's fieldwork in Wuhan between 2015-2017, she spoke to several young, first-in-the-family, highly educated women who face the dual pressures of their families and city lives. Prof. Sier deemed that their contribution to families goes beyond the existing literature, including the sacrifice of economy, emotion, and even personal desire.

Prof Sier discussed two case studies. One was Julia, who came from a single-parent family and took on much of the responsibility of supporting her mother's retirement and her brother's marriage after graduation. Faced with her mother's urging for marriage, Julia doubted the necessity of getting married as a city woman and believed that marriage might deprive her of the legitimacy of raising her family of origin as a rural daughter. Professor Sier argued that this case showed how the identity and mobility brought by educational migration give rise to complexity in gender roles, marital relations, property distribution, and kinship in rural Chinese households.

The other was Misty, an interlocutor who graduated from a junior college. Misty returned to her hometown and entered an unromantic marital relationship after the challenging career choice and financial crisis after graduation. This case prompted Prof. Sier to reflect on how inflation in higher education has caused a gap between employment choices and career dreams, especially for women with rural backgrounds.

Prof. Sier observes that almost every interlocutor shows ambitions in the future while diligently navigating a social landscape in which their positions are shaped by gender, educational achievements, and rural status, as well as societal structures, including marriage and labor markets. From the Pandemic to today, Prof Sier remains in contact with interlocutors remotely. Although these cases may not be representative, Prof Sier believes these anthropological studies provide academic value in understanding how intersecting social structures have shaped the lives of the increasing number of young women with higher education backgrounds and shifted dynamics in their rural families.

 

Written by: HUANG Minyan

 

The research is based on the background of rural labour migrants. Young people from rural backgrounds increasingly moved to cities by enrolling in universities due to land consolidation, low pay for working in leading local enterprises, and the explosive growth of the Chinese higher education system. Professor Willy Sier examined how higher education affected university-educated daughters in rural households of their employment prospects, but also how this made sense within broader gender ideologies and labour market contexts.

She argued that highly educated young women contribute to the family in a way that goes beyond what we know from the literature as they contribute financially and emotionally and sometimes even sacrifice their ambitions to contribute to the family projects, such as helping their brother marry. She showed two cases.

First is Julia's story; being the only person in a family with a degree, she feels responsible for ensuring her brother's and mother's life. She cannot consider getting married because she thinks it's unfair for her husband and child to continue supporting her original family. Julia's case connects two sets of questions, those about the emancipating potential of higher education for young women and questions about daughters' role in rural Chinese households. It is often suggested that education is an important tool for promoting gender equality. But we see that Julia's achievements and energy are directed towards securing property for her brother and that she continuously needs to prioritize her family's needs over her desires.

The second case is Misty. Misty puts family needs ahead of her own emotional attachments when choosing a mate. Working in a factory had been an essential part of the marriage negotiation because being an accountant made her also an attractive person to marry into this family that had a factory. But her dream is to be a teacher, and don't want to work in a factory.

Their educational trajectories have always been important to them. However, they also navigate a social landscape in which their positions are shaped by their gender, educational achievements, rural status, and societal structures, including marriage labour markets.

 

Written by: JIN Shuyi

 

14 Sep 2022 (Wed) The Cultural Politics of Intimacy: A Methodological Experiment

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Researchers tend to encounter difficulties when it comes to knowledge of how inequality affects the intimacy of the socio-economically marginal people. This presentation tries to figure out this problem by introducing a methodological experiment. The speaker, Prof. SUN Wanning from the University of Technology Sydney, addressed how she conducted this experiment by analyzing the contrasts, coalition, convergence and collaboration of the discursive relationships in social media, popular culture, and public criticism.

Generally, it is challenging to carry out conventional ethnographic researches when ethnographers seek to know how China’s rural migrants experience their intimate and sexual lives. Because there are methodological difficulties in investigating one’s negative love life and documenting their “dark intimacy.” Prof. SUN attempts to offer a new solution to this obstacle with a methodological experiment: to study a wide range of textual materials, by contrast, coalition, convergence, and collaboration. Her material sources include state media, labour literature, sweat-shop management’s statements, statements in an NGO’s newsletter, etc. This kind of experimental methodology dialogues with the absence of first-hand ethnography. Making good use of the narrative nature of ethnography, it regards the creators or gatherers of the textual materials as surrogate ethnographers. It thus puts forward a new concept, “‘second-hand’ ethnography” or “surrogate ethnography”.Instead of setting up a hierarchy of truthfulness, this new concept intends to ferret out the cultural politics through their discursive relationships. This experiment makes for a critical socio-economic framework in place of a normative framework of transgression. Whilst the latter one usually draws out legal or moral issues and leads to stigmatization and punishment, neglecting the emotional consequences. Prof. SUN also argues that it is socio-economic inequality but not a normative idea of moral capacity builds peoples’ abilities to reach out warm intimacy. Hence, it is of necessity to come up with such an approach.

 

Written by: DENG Zhuoyun

In the Wednesday Gender Seminar, held on September 14, 2022, Prof. SUN Wanning, from Media and Communication Studies at the University of Technology Sydney, shared difficulties she encountered in the process of ethnographic research and presented a special case which involved various discursive positions in series of textual materials, as a powerful solution to overcome the methodological troubles. By outlining her research trajectory, Prof. Sun mentioned that the socio-economic marginalised experienced intimacy as a new notion of ‘dark intimacy’ that is purchased, violent, or injurious. Since intimacies nowadays are public social goods that not everybody has equal access to and needs to invest bodily and emotional capital, it is crucial to consider how inequality marginal groups suffer impacts their love lives. Also, first-hand ethnology may confuse the researchers due to the private essence or absence of intimacy. This led to questions about how scholars should integrate and make sense of collected data in the cultural context. Inspired by Huang Yingying, Eva Illouz, and Judith Farquhar, Prof. Sun addressed that second-hand ethnology, or surrogate ethnology, can be helpful when treated as particular narratives rather than neutral documents. To be specific, Prof. Sun introduced a project about how Foxconn sex workers were represented in textual materials with varied positions, including commercial and state press, Foxconn management’s statement, their self-statement from NGOs, lowbrow magazines, and Dagong literature. Their attitude toward sex workers varied, and female workers’ motivations to become sex workers were depicted differently, mainly in two ways: a normative framework of transgression(legal and moral order) and a socio-economic framework(supplying the family's finical needs). Between texts, four relationships: collaboration, coalition, contrast, and convergence, emerged and mutually contributed to understanding which and how the latter framework, rather than the former, gets us closer to the consequences of inequality. Thus, Prof. Sun concluded that the experiment analysing clusters of texts and their conceded perspectives is necessary since it is inequality that shapes female workers’ capacity to achieve a warm intimacy, not the normative notion of moral competence. In summary, Prof. Sun highlighted the importance of understanding and being attentive to power relations in diverse texts. To Introduce and examine a series of cultural texts does not mean doubting whether the ethnology is authentic and establishing the hierarchy of truthfulness, but revealing the cultural politics through their relationships.

 

Writtern by: DU Ruini

The nature of intimacy, being private and obscured, often leads to the absence of first-hand ethnography. Dark intimacy that is purchased, violent, or injurious, poses a further methodological difficulty in the investigation. In this circumstance, a range of cultural texts contribute important ethnographic insights to Prof. Sun Wanning’s studies of the intimate lives of the marginalized. Considered as second-hand ethnography, the textual material is produced and mediated by a diversity of “surrogate ethnographers”, requiring a critical analysis in and among the texts, for instance, the discursive privilege they each possess, different agendas and readers, as well as the tension arising among them.

Prof. Sun examines various aspects of the texts and suggests four main discursive relationships: contrast, collaboration, coalition, and convergence. For example, contrast is reflected in the disparity between the narratives by different media. State media and commercial media adopt a normative framework in their commentaries on migrant women workers as part-time sex workers. The documented intimacy is simplified as a transgression, with what has truly constituted the women’s plights and decisions left undiscussed. Contrasting such an approach is a sex worker’s storytelling in an NGO’s newsletter, which offers a glimpse of a woman’s emotions, struggles, and the certain familial, political, and economic circumstances she faces to decide on her body and sexual capital. While in some literary works included in Prof. Sun’s studies, a different relationship defined as collaboration can be discovered. From novels depicting migrant workers’ dark intimacy to poems based on the real lives of sex workers, these texts approach the intimate lives of the marginalized from their own perspective instead of moral judgements, with the sensibility of the political and economic influences. These texts support and enhance the legitimacy of one another.

The normative framework of transgression neglects individuals’ dilemmas and the socio-economic contexts, typecasting and stigmatizing the marginalized. Prof. Sun thus argues for a critical socio-economic approach to intimacy that explains how socio-economic inequality pervasively affects individuals’ intimate lives, as well as the studies of the discursive relationships that contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of cultural politics.

 

Written by: FONG Yuk Ping

 

13 Apr 2022 (Wed) Mini-Conference of Thesis of MA in Gender Studies 2022

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In the Mini-Conference on Apr 13, seven MA students from the Gender Studies Programme presented their thesis research projects.

Ms. DONG Xueyin analysed 392 blog posts from six Xiaohongshu fitness bloggers in terms of their adherence to postfeminist sensibility and involution. It was found that female bloggers talked more about gender inequality and expressed more anxiety under involution, while male bloggers used less postfeminist emotional labor and acted more in line with the requirements of involution.

Ms. GOU Xinning conducted a case study of HER fund, the only non-governmental women’s foundation in Hong Kong. From her participatory observations of HER fund’s workspace and activities, she found a flattened hierarchy among the staffs in HER fund and the visitors who joined their workshop. Besides, HER fund also created a warm, personal, and hospitable emotion culture and paid attention to intersectionality, by taking care of women from different backgrounds and inviting them to share their experiences.

Ms. LUO Xilu is conducting a meta-analysis to explore the relationship between online socialization and depression in youth from a gender perspective. By extracting the effect values from relevant empirical studies, she aims to understand to what extent and how online socialization may affect youth depression. She is currently working on the data cleaning procedure, and she hypothesizes that the effect would be moderated by the type of online social media and the background of youth subjects.

Ms. SUN Yining studied how families undergone demolition and relocation in rural China distribute their compensation properties to sons and daughters. Interviewing 18 families from the Li village of Shandong province, she found most parents still hold strong patriarchal beliefs and tend to distribute their houses to sons but not daughters. Her analysis provides theoretical and practical implications for discussing the impact of urbanization on patriarchy.

Ms. SHI Xinyu obtained secondary data and conducted in-depth interviews to study how Hong Kong-Shenzhen cross-border married couples undergoing prolonged separation, especially the wives, were affected by the social restriction policy during COVID-19. She categorized these couples into four types based on husband’s and wife’s career- vs. family-orientation. It was concluded that these women are facing increased domestic burdens in this period and the differences among the four types of couples reflect different levels of influence of individualism and familism.

Ms. YANG Zhiyu analysed secondary survey data and conducted in-depth interviews with women currently in a cross-border relationship, to examine their coping strategies and decision-making process for migration under the COVID-19 pandemic. Applying the tied migration theory and relational turbulence theory as her analytical framework, she suggested that the policy-enforced separation closely related to challenges and conflicts in intimate relationships, and the different coping strategies reflected not only economic considerations but also the couple’s gendered beliefs and their relationship status.

Ms. ZHOU Shanshan analysed and compared the gender-related contents in two recent Chinese female animations, Green Snake and The Island of Siliang, to demonstrate how power and femininity perform and develop in Chinese animated films. She found that the female protagonists in both films showed a mix of traditional feminine and masculine characteristics but were interpreted differently by male and female directors. The female-directed animation The Island of Siliang depicted its female protagonist in an imperfect but more realistic way, while the one in the male-directed animation Green Snake appeared to be scantily clad with an exaggerated feminine body shape, reflecting the male gaze.

Finally, Prof. Ivy Wong, the MA programme director, commented that all the presented topics were very clear and interesting, and had covered a wide range of research areas with impressively diverse methodologies from case study to meta-analysis. She also encouraged the thesis students to aim high and consider getting their research published. Congratulations to the presenters and wish you all the best with your research projects!

 

Written by: Shi Yun

 

6 Apr 2022 (Wed) The affective practice of love: the imagined subjective protest body on LIHKG in Anti-ELAB Movement

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During the Wednesday Gender Seminar held on April 6, 2022, Ms. WONG Ka Hei Cecilia, MPhil student of Gender Studies Programme, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shares her research project on the discursive practice and gendered negotiation on LIHKG forum in Anti-ELAB Movement.

Drawing on various disciplinary approaches and methodological tools, Ms. WONG adopts a research assemblage strategy including media and digital ethnography, thematic discourse analysis, 4 rounds of semi-structured interviews, and 3 follow-up individual interviews. Since the situated experiences of LIHKG user’s gendered affective practices are multilayered and multifarious, this seminar challenges the monolithic and overarching conception of a coherent heterosexual protest body and provides an alternative interpretation of how individual bodies negotiate with the collective in-process during everyday resistance.

While the fantasized couple and heteronormative division of labor donate a sense of affective coherence to the contradictory nature of protest subjects (Berlent, 2012), the research found that each individual body is a dynamic nexus full of heterogenous gendered experience. To view the gendered subjective protest body as a site of fractures and openings that are full of possibilities, as Ms. WONG concludes, is the core of understanding the dynamic process of negotiation, and thus the affective practice of love.

 

Written by: Zhang Yuqi

 

30 Mar 2022 (Wed) Analyzing Female-Victim Intimate Partner Homicide in China via Hierarchical Models and Data Mining Methods

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In the Wednesday Seminar on 30 March, Ms. Yuxuan Gu, an MPhil student from Gender Studies Programme and the Department of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shared her research on “Analyzing Female-Victim Intimate Partner Homicide in China via Hierarchical Models and Data Mining Methods”.


Although the overall trend of the homicide rate in the world seems a declining one, intimate partner homicide (IPH), especially female-victim intimate partner homicide (FV-IPH), shows its stability. In China, among the couples who filed for divorce cases because of domestic violence, up to 91.41% of the perpetrator were male. Built upon this contextual background, Ms. Gu’s study proposes a theoretical account integrating the traditional ameliorative and backlash theses, offers a possible explanation for some of the inconsistent findings, and provides empirical examination in mainland China.


Ms. GU selected 11,310 intentional homicide cases from the China Judgments Online website and used hierarchical models and data mining methods to conduct the analysis. The findings illustrate that: 1) in terms of the instrumental dimensions of gender equality, the backlash processes are likely to dominate at lower to higher levels of women empowerment; 2) the relationship between the cultural dimension of gender equality and levels of FV-IPH conforms to an inverted U, such that a backlash effect operates in the short-term but is followed by an ameliorative effect in the longer term. By leveraging detailed information on 11310 homicide cases, this study pioneers the analysis of FV-IPH in mainland China. It presents researchers with an effective method of utilizing text-mining techniques and hierarchical models which explore the integration of structural gender equality and incidental level characteristics.

 

Written by: SUN Yining, SHI Xinyu

 

23 Mar 2022 (Wed) Gendered Market Activities among Female Entrepreneurs in China: Case Study from Two Inland Provinces

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In the Wednesday Seminar on March 23, Ms. Lulu Li, Ph.D. candidate from Gender Studies Programme and the Department of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shared her research on “Gendered Market Activities among Female Entrepreneurs in China: Case Study from Two Inland Provinces.”

Driven by the “Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation” campaign in China since 2016, the development and prosperity of private businesses and start-ups in China has brought unprecedented opportunities for female entrepreneurship. However, entrepreneurship has traditionally been androcentric, and the opportunities for entrepreneurship are unevenly distributed between inland and coastal regions. Against this backdrop, Ms. Li proposes the research question of “what are the motivations for female entrepreneurs to enter private business, and what kind of gendered opportunities and difficulties do they encounter when doing business in the local market”.

Drawing on 41 in-depth interviews with female entrepreneurs in small and medium cities, the research shows that for female entrepreneurs motivated by economic aspirations, some are “confident” to start the business with access to local resources and family support in a rising local market, while others are “aspiring” but lacking local networks and facing marriage stress. For females who become entrepreneurs due to family considerations, some of them try out new business opportunities “comfortably” with sufficient emotional and financial support, while others enter their business “serendipitously” in a familiar place because they want to realize their self-value and be filial at the same time. These findings imply that personal career aspirations and family concerns are key factors influencing the entrepreneurial motivations of women in inland cities. These women are adept at exploring different market opportunities and mobilizing multiple local resources to achieve business advancement and self-realization. Compared with women in developed regions, these inland women entrepreneurs who run businesses in a relatively conservative social environment have constructed their unique forms of entrepreneurship in which gender, class, and locality are intertwined.

 

Written by: ZHOU Siyuan, GU Yuxuan

 

16 Mar 2022 (Wed)  Becoming Insurance Agents in Hong Kong Career Choice and Social Mobility among Highly Educated Women from Mainland China

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At the Wednesday Gender Seminar on March 16, Ph.D. candidate Ms. ZHOU Siyuan from the Gender Studies Programme and Department of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong brought her sharing. Her dissertation title is "Becoming Insurance Agents in Hong Kong: Career Choice and Social Mobility among Highly Educated Women from Mainland China." The insurance industry is very mature in Hong Kong, which has attracted many highly educated women to migrate to Hong Kong from mainland China, engaging in this industry. To explore the gendered opportunities and challenges they encountered, the researcher conducted in-depth interviews with 32 women working in the industry at various career stages and ethnographic observations at insurance agents’ offices, and during their daily and recruitment activities to explore their motivations to enter the insurance industry and how they were recruited. At the same time, the researcher is also studying how the insurance industry combines femininity and professionalism.

The recruitment process includes two dimensions, institutionally and individually. New IANG graduates who enter the internships and trainee programs build up connection with professional financial advisors and access to diversified training contents at the institutional level.

The recruitment at individual level is conducted through social networking like “港漂圈”, hometown associations, and alumni organizations. WeChat and Red are the common platforms to build women’s professional image as insurance agents.

In fact, women are more than welcome for they are considered to be more independent, patient, and thoughtful. Women utilize cross-border information and resources due to their Mainland identity. They are motivated by personal career aspirations and family support. However, they face double marginalization. First, gender discrimination harms women’s career mobility. The second is geographical as they are female immigrants, which is an excuse for different treatment between the locals in the workplace and them. In short, women still face structural inequalities in the workplace due to the patriarchal gender division of labour.

 

 Written by: DONG Xueyin, YANG Ming

 

9 Mar 2022 (Wed)  Single-Sex Schooling and Students’ Interpersonal Development

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Ms. SHI Yun Sylvia, Ph.D. Candidate in Gender Studies Programme presented her research on “Single-Sex Schooling and Students’ Interpersonal Development” at the Gender Seminar on Wednesday, March 9th.

As a form of institutionalized gender segregation, single-sex schooling was initially set up to make up for girls' lack of education or secular reasons. Nowadays, this form of schooling remains common and resurges in recent years.

However, single-sex schooling is a controversial education form. Some people argue that it benefits both boys and girls from different perspectives. Others disagree with the supportive claims.

By reviewing developmental intergroup theory and peer socialization theory, Ms. Shi’s research aims to answer the following research questions: do single-sex and co-ed students differ in gender-related cognitive outcomes? Do single-sex and co-ed students differ in same gender and other gender relationship outcomes? Would such differences (if any) change after graduation when students enter a mixed-gender world?

Regarding the cross-sectional study, there are two participant samples, including boys and girls from local single-sex and coeducational schools. The first group involves 2059 students recruited from HK high schools, and the second includes 456 students from local universities. The former finishes questionnaires in class, whereas the latter in the laboratory. About the measures, the higher level of gender salience is reported in the single-sex high school sample. In addition, the single-sex school sample reports having lower percentages of other-gender friends and close friends as compared to the coeducational school sample. What’s more, single-sex high school and college students feel more mixed-gender anxious, except for that the difference between college samples is not statistically significant.

In the longitudinal study, two time lines were set, namely the final year of high school and after graduation. The time interval between the two time lines was 16.62 months. The sample was drawn from more than 100 local high schools in Hong Kong, and the measures includes demographics, gender salience, and gender stereotyping. This study shows that gender segregation in single-sex schools affects students' gender cognition and entails social outcomes, including stereotyping, friendship, and sexual orientation. Although these effects diminish over time, students in single-sex schools have fewer social skills in mixed-sex life after graduation. Many questions remain to be answered about the impact of single-sex education, especially on students' non-academic outcomes.

 

 Written by: GAO Xinning, ZHOU Shanshan, ZHANG Kunyu

 

16 Feb 2022 (Wed)  Politics of Dating Apps

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CHAN Lik Sam, assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, presented his research on "Politics of Dating Apps" via Zoom online lecture at the Gender Seminar on Wednesday, February 16th.

Using in-depth interviews and critical methods, Prof. CHAN Lik Sam had deep-going conversations with friends around him who use dating apps, understood their motivations for using these apps, analyzed their experiences and feelings in using the apps, and focused on the explanations from users of dating apps. Finally, Prof. CHAN established the connection between dating apps and individual politics. He sees dating apps not just as a platform for romance or hooking up, but more importantly, as an arena to reembody gender and queer politics.

At the same time, Prof. CHAN draws on interdisciplinary literature on gender, homosexuality, and technology research to examine how dating app users take advantage of the technological capabilities unique to their social status. He proposed the "Networked Sexual Publics" as a unifying concept to capture the dynamics of emerging dating app culture, and suggested that scholars and students use thinking of intersectionality to further study this global phenomenon in the future.

He pointed out that we need to call for a fight for social rights. Spaces outside of the heterosexual community have already received a lot of attention through dating apps, and if online sex topics are latent, then building our identities through dating apps could lead to a more gender-equal and homosexuality-friendly world. Using apps to find "sex" for women, for example, is actually a way to help them learn about themselves.

Looking ahead to future research, Prof. CHAN believes that if we want to pay attention to people's different interpretations of dating apps or behaviors, we need to take an intersectional approach. In fact, every sexual public on the Internet has at least two identities -- male and female. We also need to consider factors such as age, urban and rural areas. These undiscussed intersections may affect users' use of the application, which requires further research and discussion.

 Written by: LUO Xilu, GAO Yuting, XIA Mohan

 

19 Jan 2022 (Wed) Queering Chinese Kindship – Queer Public Culture in Globalizing China

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The seminar is an eye-opening one and Professor Song Lin from the school of Journalism and Communication of Jinan University shared his study regarding Queering Chinese Kinship.

Queer is a terminology originated from the Western world and it is worth exploring whether the said terminology and definitions of queer are applicable in China who shares a quite different culture and history comparing with those western countries.

Professor Song’s study revealed that the queer definitions from the west may not fully applicable and adaptable for China while Professor Song has pointed out that Queerness is highly correlated with Kinship whereas these two components are shaping each other and formulating a dynamic process of Queering Kinship from a Chinese cultural context.

Professor Song’s has investigated the said topic in his recent publication of “Queering Chinese Kinship: Queer Public Culture in Globalizing China” through various case studies. In the captioned seminar, Professor Song has shared the case study of BiliBili to illustrate the characteristics of Queering Chinese Kinship.

BiliBili is a popular video sharing platform focusing on the youth market in China and there are quite a number of Chinese queers leverage BiliBili as the platform to come out and share their sexuality with the others. The study found out that the content and the approach of such videos are rather different from the westerners; the Chinese queer videos usually involve the queers’ partners as well as their families; such approach echoes the significance of the relationship between queers and kinship. The video contents, moreover, are packaged in a rather romantic and commercialized way to cultivate the interest followed by the acceptance from the public.

Professor Song also evaluated the comments from those anonymous audiences in a bullet curtain; it is found that the comments are all very encouraging and positive which helps reshaping the blood kinship relationships which used to be the first step to boost the acceptance level of queers in China.

It is a live example to manifest the inter-disciplinary nature of gender studies which we should stay cautious about the “one size fits all” approach without considering the local context especially gender is institutionalized through various historical, cultural, economic, and political factors.

It is no arguing that Professor Song brought us an insightful study, but some may challenge the representativeness of those case studies. Perhaps the hackathon approach advocated by Hope, D'Ignazio et al. (2019) can be applied for a deep dive analysis of the said topic and have the most oppressed marginalized group identified with their issues uncovered.

Written by:Hui Wai Hung, Ross

 

Spring 2021

Co-presented by: Gender Studies Programme, Gender Research Centre & Sexualities Research Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

17 Mar 2021 (Wed) Family Matters: Gender and Motivations in Women’s Online Entrepreneurship 

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In the Wednesday Seminar of March 17, 2021, Ms. TANG Lin, a Ph.D. candidate in Gender Studies Programme and the Department of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shared her ongoing Ph.D. research on how gendered experiences in relation to the family institution construct womens motivations in online entrepreneurship in China.

The fast development of the Internet in the past decade has witnessed Chinese womens greater participation in E-commerce compared to men. More than 50% of the business owners on Taobao are female (AliResearch 2015), and more than 70 % of the individual WeChat sellers are female (Xinmin Evening News 2017). In regard to entrepreneurial motivations, previous studies suggest while men are more economic oriented, women are more achievement-oriented and family-oriented. Women are more likely to venture into family-related businesses. Moreover, family-work dynamics are always important factors impacting womens entrepreneurship. Family structure and composition also have a profound effect on the acquisition and mobilization of entrepreneurial resources for women entrepreneurs.

By in-depth interview and online ethnography, Ms. Tang Lin examined in her research womens entrepreneurial experiences in relation to both their natal family and marital family The research subjects are mostly from a more privileged group: those well-educated young women who are the only child in their natal family and live in the more affluent eastern and southern coastal areas. A life-course perspective honoring four significant life events, namely university graduation, formal employment, cohabitation or marriage, and childbirth was adopted to offer a more dynamics-sensitive and multi-dimensional analysis on the comparatively high percentage of womens participation in online entrepreneurship.

By using “pull” and “push” to structure her analysis, Ms. Tang Lin pointed out two pairs of effects to pull those privileged young women into online entrepreneurship or push them out from it, during the transition of their status. As urban singleton daughters, they were initially pulled into online entrepreneurship when they were graduating from their postgraduate programs. Becoming a dài-goù, namely doing surrogate shopping for others, was regarded as a spontaneous move to make up for their parents’ investments in their overseas tertiary education. However, after they graduated and came back to their hometown, the social expectation of stable and ideal jobs — such as public servants, teachers, administrative staff — for women started to push them out from online entrepreneurship. As they and their parents perceived, online entrepreneurship could only be a temporal and transitional option.

If the first pair of pull-push effects happened in their natal families, the second pair of effects emerged in their marital family or marital family-to-be. When they started cohabitating with their marital partners, they could be pulled into online entrepreneurship to make extra money, especially when their partners were financially insecure. However, the motivation of online entrepreneurship had nothing to do with women’s empowerment. Although some of their marital partners would do pep talks or offer physical supports to help them run their online business, the aim was pretty much materialistic. Once they got pregnant and had their own children, childcare obligations would push them out from online entrepreneurship. As Ms. Tang Lin observed, their motivation for online entrepreneurship decreased dramatically in this life event. For those who still insisted on, they had to juggle between paid work in the household and their online economic activities.  

Written by: 

Peng Yiyi  & Wu Yuehan,  PhD candidates of Gender Studies, CUHK 

Marco Teng Wang, student of PhD in Linguistics, Hong Kong Baptist University

 

03 Mar 2021 (Wed) The Profile of Risk in Cervical Cancer Prevention in Southwest China

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During the Wednesday Gender Seminar held on March 3, 2021, Ms. WU Yuehan, Ph.D. candidate in the Gender Studies Programme and the department of Anthology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shares her doctoral project on cervical cancer prevention in Chongqing, southwest China. 

Ms. WU Yuehan characterize the case of China on cervical cancer prevention as “a mixed phenomenon of the Global North and the Global South”. Along with the rise of pharmaceuticalization of public health, HPV tourism from the mainland to Hong Kong emerges as a unique social phenomenon among women-patients-consumers. However, underdeveloped medical infrastructure, insufficient healthcare investment, and the collusion between Big Pharma and local government in China result in 1/5 of the total death from cervical cancer in developing countries. Ms. WU Yuehan identifies three prevention strategies to cope with the burden of cervical cancers with different agents at all levels, namely, government promotion, medical intervention, and individual participation.

As an anthropologist by training, Ms. WU Yuehan utilizes ethnographic methods by interviewing patients as well as professionals and observing their interactions at a local clinic in Chongqing, southwest China. Since government-subsidized screening tests for cervical cancer are only available for rural women with local residency during a specific period of each year, migrant workers are therefore left out of the precautions. Guided by a relational framework, Ms. WU Yuehan argues that, from an authoritative perspective, cervical cancer is the risk object which sets social development at risk. In this sense, cervical cancer is more of a cancer associated with social developments for female migrant workers from rural areas than economic property. Women patients who live with human papillomavirus (HPV) always experience HPV-attached stigma such as debauchery and promiscuity, concerns and suspicions from their sexual partners, and biomedical uncertainty of whether they are infected or if they can recover. Ms. WU Yuehan ends her talk by pointing out that it is women who are at risk from a bottom-up perspective since they are the host of HPV.

-- Written by TANG, Lin, PhD candidate of Gender Studies
 

20 Jan 2021 (Wed) A “Phoenix” Rising from the Ashes: China’s Tongqi, Marriage Fraud, and Resistance

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At the Wednesday Gender Seminar held on January 20, Dr. Eileen Yuk-ha Tsang, Assistant Professor from the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the City University of Hong Kong, shared her research on Tongqi in China conducted between 2015 and 2019. Tongqi refers to women who have unknowingly married closeted gay men and often discovered their husband’s secret after giving birth to fulfil filial piety. Dr. Tsang extended the concept of necropolitics and used ethnographic methods to uncover the social death situation of 59 Tongqi in Tianjin and Northeast China, and how they resist the circumstances with an agency.

Dr. Tsang first introduced her conceptual framework based on Achille Mbembe’s theory of necropolitics. She expanded the concept, which refers to the situation of underprivileged groups waiting for death, due to the denial of legal support, cultural recognition and basic human rights, to explain the social death situation that these Tongqi live in. She pointed out that, however, there is still room for Tongqi to exercise their agency, as they seek divorce, medical treatment, help from NGOs and the Internet to survive and resist the circumstances.
 
In terms of getting a divorce, Dr. Tsang discovered that a majority of the Tongqi with a low level of education did not proceed to divorce and maintain the status quo because they are jobless, lack of money and constrained by the social stigma of divorce. On the contrary, Tongqi with more education attempted to either settle their divorce out of court or go to trial. While those seeking an out-of-court divorce face challenges of weaker social bonding, lower social status and less power, those who go to court experience frustration because the divorce law in China favours men in terms of custody of children, settlement of property and so on. However, battling for a divorce is a way for Tongqi to obtain dignity, to fight for justice and to escape the death of their heterosexual marriage identity in order to start a new chapter in life.
 
Dr. Tsang also talked about Tongqi who got infected with AIDS have been proactively seeking help from NGOs and the internet to demonstrate their agency. Despite feeling depressed and hopeless, the women look for medical treatment and try to overcome the hardships with the care and encouragement from their children and parents. Moreover, Tongqi approach NGOs for professional and legal advice. They also join different social media groups to get support from each other.
 
With her search, Dr. Tsang intends to provide insights for policymakers and NGOs to understand and support Tongqi, raise the consciousness of how flawed marriage law in China affect their lives and reduce stigmatisation of Tongqi and homosexual men who enter marriage to fulfil filial piety.
 
-- Written by LEE Man Ting and XU Ran, MA students of Gender Studies
 

Fall 2020

Co-presented by: Gender Studies Programme & Gender Research Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

18 Nov 2020 (Wed) “Little Bees Just Have to Keep Moving”: Temporary Work, Gendered Skills, and Excessive Mobility in Real Estate Sales Promotion in Urban China

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At the seminar held on 18 Nov. 2020, Prof. ZHAN Yang from the Department of Applied Social Sciences of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University introduced some interesting aspects of the middle-aged women channel workers in Chongqing from her recent studies.

Channel worker as a job to promote real estate to potential customers has emerged with the real estate market expansion in China's second and third tier cities. Channel work appeared in Chongqing after 2012. Its emergence was mostly due to market competition: Once one real estate developer decided to use channel work to do sales promotion, then others had to follow suit. Prof. ZHAN Yang did her research mainly in the Liangjiang New Area of Chongqing, where she observed how those channel workers worked and conducted interview with them and also with a few of managers of the channel department and real estate developers. She found that most of the channel workers were middle-aged women from rural areas. To promote real estate sales through telemarketing, ground promotion, interception and group-buying, middle-aged women were recruited nominally for their gendered qualities such as "persistent", "hard-working", and "with thick skin". However, Prof. ZHAN Yang argued that the real central skills for this job were sales talk and movement, and the latter was what she stressed on.

The channel workers moved according to specific maps. The channel manager would determine the "stratified circles" of target customers and marked out the locations they could gather as the effective spots for channel workers to go. There was also a map of deals for the channel manager to detect changes in customers' demand in the market. The channel workers must constantly move as the maps were constantly changing.

In effect, the constant movement caused excessive mobility with a high rate of layoff and resignation. What those channel workers were doing was indeed redundant and futile work. Work had always been prioritized over other things. To shake up this fundamental assumption of work, the question drew the attention of Prof. ZHAN Yang was: Why work that does not really serve others' need exist? Though the answer remains to be revealed, for channel work, Prof. ZHAN Yang argued that while being redundant, it bore some functions of social protection. That might be the meaning for "little bees" to keep moving all the time.

Written by : Zhang Yu, MA student of Gender Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

11 Nov 2020 (Wed) Marriage as Filial Duty, Personal Choice or Social Expectation?: Exploring Differences in the Experiences of Single Women in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo

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At the Wednesday Gender Seminar held on November 11, Professor Lynne Y. Nakano from the Department of Japanese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong shared her research on single women in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. Professor Nakano used anthropological research methods to interview single women in three cities. She analyzed and integrated the similarities of these experiences: on the one hand, they were expected to perform well in school and social work. On the other hand, they were expected to put family first. However, single women in the three cities face different situations under different social backgrounds.

Professor Nakano first introduced the essential characteristics of being single in East Asian cities and the general increase in the age of marriage for women. There are still low rates of premarital cohabitation, dating, premarital sexual relationship, and extramarital birth in the three cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. Same-sex relationships are generally highly stigmatized. At the same time, with the expansion of job opportunities in the market, women tend to develop their careers. Marriage often makes women face discrimination and pressure in the workplace, so the fertility rate also decreases.

Professor Nakano then showed two social models of marriage, the Duty Model, and the Companionate Model. Her research found that Chinese society favours the duty model, Hong Kong society is a companionate model, and Japan is a hybrid model of the two. Therefore, getting married at the "right age" is a common choice for Shanghai women. Marriage is seen to be filial piety and the entry point for intergenerational care. Under the companion model in Hong Kong, marriage represents a personal choice, and the family environment allows them to remain single. Tokyo women usually choose to complete their marriage at the proper age expected by society, and they believe that marriage represents a social responsibility.

In East Asian societies, women still take the primary role of family caregivers. Single women also participate in family affairs and perform more family care responsibilities. Shanghai women will actively emphasize their contributions to the family and the nation to rationalise their singleness. Singleness in Hong Kong society does not cause moral condemnation, but women look after their families when they start to earn income. Tokyo women are proud of their economic independence, but they also see taking care of elderly parents as their moral obligation while childbearing is not necessary.

Professor Nakano also pointed out some existing problems for single women in the seminar. Firstly, since single women are expected to stay single temporarily, they often do not enjoy too much family resources support. Secondly, East Asian women staying single is not an expression of individualism, but a way to strengthen the entire family's economy and fulfil the social expectations of the family. They have undertaken most of the housework but have not received the financial support they deserve, which has exacerbated the uneven distribution of wealth. Finally, society still maintains a negative stereotype towards single women. They have to strengthen their contributions and invent new ways to fulfil their responsibilities for the family.

-Written by Lulu LI (PhD student), CHENG Siying (MA student) of Gender Studies Programme

 

28 Oct 2020 (Wed) Envisioning the City: Arts-based Research with Domestic Workers, Asylum-Seekers and Ethnic Minorities

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In the Wednesday Seminar on Oct 28, Prof. Julie HAM, Assistant Professor of Department of Sociology, Hong Kong University, and Ms. Merina SUNUWAR, Research Assistant of Department of Sociology, Hong Kong University, presented via Zoom online lecture on “Envisioning the City: Arts-based Research with Domestic Workers, Asylum-Seekers and Ethnic Minorities.”

Through the analysis of participatory videos, two speakers worked on two art projects with domestic workers, asylum seekers and ethnic minorities: "Visualizing the Voices of Migrant Women Workers" and “Sustainable Sunday Couture: Domestic Workers Upcycling Fashion,” exploring the role of emotion in these two participatory projects.

Participatory video by communities rather than professional producers breaks down the power relations between participants and researchers and replaces them with “relational rhythms.” Prof. Julie HAM focused on two of the three dimensions in the project "Visualizing the Voices of Female Migrants": gratitude and trepidation, which were linked to the "chemistry between the participants and the organizers" and to the "re-writing the city", respectively. Ms. Merina SUNUWAR introduced domestic work, minorities in detail to us home participatory experiments detailly, analyzed effect of the role and the scene change, confirmed that the participatory test method can be further analysis of the urban residents new character dimensions (experiential dimensions), its purpose is not to reduce or alleviate useful tension, but to help urban residents to recognize and use this kind of relationship (emotional rhythms) when adapting to new roles. Prof. Julie HAM concludes that shifting power relations in participatory video can lead to new voices and stories coming to the fore, and these may continue to be transformed into knowledge being produced.

written by Wang Yming & Zhong Weiyan (students of MPhil & MA in Gender studies)

 

21 Oct 2020 (Wed) Premarital Abortion: Reproductive Politics in Post-Socialist China

 

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In the online gender seminar on 21st Oct., Dr. LAI Yuen Shan Ruby, a Research Assistant Professor from Department of Sociology and Social Policy of Lingnan University shared her research on adult premarital abortion in China conducted between 2013 and 2019. In her research, Dr. LAI Yuen Shan Ruby used ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews to unravel the under-documented non-marital reproductive experiences of Chinese women, mostly migrants from less developed areas to an industrialized costal city, and also content analysis to examine the abortion cultural discourses in China.

According to Dr. Lai, adult premarital abortion is a window to investigate the interpersonal relationships that are entwined with the unmarried women, their intimate partners and parents in post-socialist China. These relationships serve as interfaces that connect the women’s reproductive selves to the macro social structures, and are interweaved in the lives of these women.

Under the universal project of living a “complete life”, factors leading to abortion vary from struggling between the girl and woman dichotomy, rejecting a hasty marriage, fear of single motherhood, pursuing a “nested birth” to expecting a quality child. The political propaganda of "You Sheng You Yu", the society's double expectations on women to be both an ideal female citizen and a virtuous mother, plus the celebration of the middle-class version of a harmonious family, overlap in the process of abortion decision-making.

For many women in Dr. Lai’s studies, they consciously define the premarital pregnancy as “the intimate trial” to evaluate their partners’ attitude towards the relationship, the maturity, reliability, and capability of serving as a future husband and a father. Even though men’s approval was crucial for continuing the pregnancy, their preference was not influential if the women did not want to carry on the pregnancy. The interactions of intimate couples during the pregnancy also reveal transgression of gender boundaries, for example, some men shouldered on the responsibility of domestic jobs and were also fragile during the abortion decision-making process.

Intergenerational interaction presents more dynamics in those women’s abortion decision-making process. Dr. Lai identified four patterns of parent–adult daughter interactions during the decision-making process of premarital abortion: excluding parents, referencing perceived parental views, consulting parents, and conforming to parents’ interferences. Her findings also suggest that some women have prioritized the preferences of their parents over those of their intimate partners because they consider intergenerational ties more enduring and reliable than ties between intimate partners.

Dr. Lai pointed out that within the context of a mature dating culture in urban China and the prevalence of premarital sex, women have achieved considerable control over decisions about sex and intimacy. But the unrestrained access to abortion is more an unintended benefit of the state’s modernization than a protection of women’s rights. While abortion is essential for women to exercise their bodily control and to survive in an increasingly uncertain and stratified society, it is insufficient for them to achieve reproductive autonomy.

The online seminar is part of the Wednesday Gender Seminar series co-presented by Gender Studies Program and Gender Research Centre, the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

(Written by Wang Teng and MA student Yi Xueman of Gender Studies)

 

14 Oct 2020 (Wed) Email Order brides under China’s Global Rise

 

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In the Wednesday Seminar on Oct 14, Prof. LIU Monica, Assistant Professor of the Department of Justice and Society Studies, University of St. Thomas, presented via Zoom online lecture on “Email Order Brides under China’s Global Rise”, a research project she has been working on since 2008. In-depth interviews and participant observations were conducted with 61 Chinese women who seek marriage with Western men through online dating agencies. By comparing the life trajectories and decision-making process of three cases, Prof. LIU illustrated how women in different socio-economic status envision Western men differently and how the privilege of modest-earning Western men is being challenged under China’s economic rise.

According to Prof. LIU, these women are mostly divorced, who have shared desires for out-migration marriage but with different motives and outcomes. Some of them are “financially flexible” but lose confidence in Chinese men and therefore turn to the foreign marriage market for “true love”, but discovered that the available Western men do not meet their expectations in either physical appearance or masculine charisma. Some of them are “financially burdened” and wish to improve their life quality through migration marriage, but ended up with an unhappy marriage or with sacrificed power and agency to have their marriage worked out. However, the Western men who order Email brides are relatively homogenous as they are in agriculture, manufacturing, and small business, left behind by globalization, incompetent in the local marriage market, and therefore look for women who fit their traditional gender beliefs via online dating agencies, but becoming less attractive to upper-middle-class Chinese women. The shifting configuration of global capital with the rise of China and other Asian countries, as Prof. LIU concluded, has challenged the hegemonic power and privilege of Western masculinity, and it is important to adopt an intersectional approach in future analyses of migration marriage.

(Written by PhD student Shi Yun and MA student Lee Man Ting of Gender Studies)

 

23 Sept 2020 (Wed) ‘To Shine’ or ‘To Die’?: ‘Womenomics’ and Women’s Worth to the Economy in Neoliberal Japan

 

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On Sep 23’s Wednesday Seminar, Prof. HO Swee-Lin, an associate professor of anthropology at the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, shared her research on ‘To Shine’ or ‘To Die’?: ‘Womenomics’ and Women’s Worth to the Economy in Neoliberal Japan via Zoom online lecture.

Based on individual interviews and participants-observations with more than 180 women in supervisory and managerial positions in Japan, Prof. HO investigated whether and how does Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s “womenomics” programme exacerbates women’s inferior and marginal status at the workplace as well as in the Japanese society?

According to Prof. HO, the Japanese government's economic plan which nominally aimed at creating a society where ‘All Women Shine' has actually turned women into economic tools. In the mass media, negative portrayals of professional women still persist. In the company of co-workers, female managers need to cost their own time and expenses in after-work drinking in order to secure their job position. However, job promotions often bring them more workloads and limited authority. In the office, women are the most vulnerable to sacrifice in corporate restructuring, they are more likely to take part-time jobs than their male counterparts. To the state, the new legislation on bulling and harassment in the workplace also contribute to the increased discrimination against female employees. In short, neoliberal economic changes in national policies and corporate workplaces have failed to truly liberate Japanese women with professional careers, but “enacting prevailing gender roles and reinforcing patriarchal structure”.

(written by PhD student ZHOU Siyuan and MA student GENG Siran, LIU Lianxian of Gender Studies)

 


Spring 2020

Co-presented by: Gender Studies Programme, Gender Research Centre & Sexualities Research Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

4 Mar 2020 (Wed) 耽美真人CP與自我規訓式審查

 

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As an adaptation of online teaching in the current Coronavirus situation, Gender Studies Programme in The Chinese University of Hong Kong held an online Wednesday Gender Seminar on March 4, 2020. Wang Yiming, an M.Phil student from the programme, shared with the audience about her research on Tanbi CP and the online self-disciplinary censorship in China.

Tanbi is regarded as a subculture in which the male-to-male love stories are mostly written by and for female audiences in China. Wang Yiming took the Sina Weibo platform, a large social media platform in China, as her field site. She studied the Tanbi group that was suppressed and reshaped by online censorship on Weibo, and explored the interactions among online subculture, the impact of online censorship on it, and the new creation of this subculture. This research fills the gap in the complex relationship and representation between opposing network groups, and reflects on the impact of online censorship on the cultural ecology of Tanbi in Asia. 228 audiences registered and participated in the seminar, which reached the peak of Wednesday Gender Seminar participation. 

 

26 Feb 2020 (Wed) Desire for Sale: Live-streaming and DIY Pornography among Chinese Gay Micro-celebrities

 

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On Feb 26's Wednesday Seminar, Dr. SONG Lin, Postdoctoral Fellow from the Department of Communication, University of Macau, shared his research on live streaming and DIY pornography among Chinese gay micro-celebrities via ZOOM online lecture. Through a cultural and media studies approach, Dr. Song explores the development of the underground gay porn "industry" in China, the socio-political circumstances it is situated in, as well as its negotiation with China's Internet governance.

According to Dr. Song, the Chinese DIY gay porn has been largely facilitated by the development of social media, especially the popularization of live-streaming platforms. Also, the nebulous nation of Internet communication has enabled tactics to circumvent strengthened censorship. Applying a queer Marxist analytical framework, Dr. Song addresses Chinese DIY gay porn as an economy centered on desire. While it is a profit-oriented product that completely follows the capitalist logic, it is simultaneously produced at the margins of heteronormativity, state regulation, and corporate capitalism, with the potential to subvert the existing dominant order.

 


Fall 2019

Co-presented by: Gender Studies Programme, Gender Research Centre & Sexualities Research Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

2 Oct 2019 (Wed) Refusing obliquely: On siren eun young jung and the three moments of performing in anomaly

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During the Wednesday Gender Seminar on Oct. 2, Prof. Soo Ryon Yoon, an assistant professor from the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, shared her research on South Korean media and visual artist siren eun young jung and her work Yeoseong Gukgeuk Project (2008-).

Yeoseong Gukgeuk (Women's National Theatre Performance), a form of theatre with all characters played by female actors, used to be the most popular art form in the 1950s' Korea but gradually declined partly due to its inherent tension with the heteronormative logic underlying the state's imagination of "true" national heritage.

Siren eun young jung, a Korean artist, has spent years to conduct a series of archival research-based installations and performances about Yeoseong Gukgeuk. Through close reading of jung's works and from the perspective of queer politics, Prof. Yoon analyzes the strategy in her Yeoseong Gukgeuk Project to play with and within the existing normative institutions of South Korea theatre rather than denying them. Highlighting three themes in jung's acts of intervention, i.e., the archival, the tradition, as well as gender and queer politics, Prof. Yoon explores how jung's project has interrogated the nationalized and heteronormative theatre history and opened up new possibilities to resurrect queer presence in theatre.

 

11 Sep 2019 (Wed) The performative effects of diagnosis: thinking gender, sexuality, and intimacy through diagnostic logics and politics

 

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On 11 Sep’s Wednesday Seminar, Dr. Sebastian Mohr, Senior Lecturer of Gender Studies and Director of the Centre for Gender Studies at Karlstad University, Sweden, shared his research on the performative effects of medical diagnosis. Dr. Mohr is also a visiting scholar at the Gender Studies Program at CUHK during the fall of 2019.

Based on the ethnographic research on Danish war veterans’ understandings of and experiences with intimacy, Dr. Mohr discussed how medical diagnosis transform people’s perception of their intimate self as well as how the medicalized intimacies provide potentials to rework biopolitical and cis- and heteronormative normalcy.

*For more information concerning Wednesday Gender Seminars, please click here.

TANG, Lin

Spring 2021

Co-presented by: Gender Studies Programme, Gender Research Centre & Sexualities Research Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

17 Mar 2021 (Wed) Family Matters: Gender and Motivations in Women’s Online Entrepreneurship 

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In the Wednesday Seminar of March 17, 2021, Ms. TANG Lin, a Ph.D. candidate in Gender Studies Programme and the Department of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shared her ongoing Ph.D. research on how gendered experiences in relation to the family institution construct womens motivations in online entrepreneurship in China.

The fast development of the Internet in the past decade has witnessed Chinese womens greater participation in E-commerce compared to men. More than 50% of the business owners on Taobao are female (AliResearch 2015), and more than 70 % of the individual WeChat sellers are female (Xinmin Evening News 2017). In regard to entrepreneurial motivations, previous studies suggest while men are more economic oriented, women are more achievement-oriented and family-oriented. Women are more likely to venture into family-related businesses. Moreover, family-work dynamics are always important factors impacting womens entrepreneurship. Family structure and composition also have a profound effect on the acquisition and mobilization of entrepreneurial resources for women entrepreneurs.

By in-depth interview and online ethnography, Ms. Tang Lin examined in her research womens entrepreneurial experiences in relation to both their natal family and marital family The research subjects are mostly from a more privileged group: those well-educated young women who are the only child in their natal family and live in the more affluent eastern and southern coastal areas. A life-course perspective honoring four significant life events, namely university graduation, formal employment, cohabitation or marriage, and childbirth was adopted to offer a more dynamics-sensitive and multi-dimensional analysis on the comparatively high percentage of womens participation in online entrepreneurship.

By using “pull” and “push” to structure her analysis, Ms. Tang Lin pointed out two pairs of effects to pull those privileged young women into online entrepreneurship or push them out from it, during the transition of their status. As urban singleton daughters, they were initially pulled into online entrepreneurship when they were graduating from their postgraduate programs. Becoming a dài-goù, namely doing surrogate shopping for others, was regarded as a spontaneous move to make up for their parents’ investments in their overseas tertiary education. However, after they graduated and came back to their hometown, the social expectation of stable and ideal jobs — such as public servants, teachers, administrative staff — for women started to push them out from online entrepreneurship. As they and their parents perceived, online entrepreneurship could only be a temporal and transitional option.

If the first pair of pull-push effects happened in their natal families, the second pair of effects emerged in their marital family or marital family-to-be. When they started cohabitating with their marital partners, they could be pulled into online entrepreneurship to make extra money, especially when their partners were financially insecure. However, the motivation of online entrepreneurship had nothing to do with women’s empowerment. Although some of their marital partners would do pep talks or offer physical supports to help them run their online business, the aim was pretty much materialistic. Once they got pregnant and had their own children, childcare obligations would push them out from online entrepreneurship. As Ms. Tang Lin observed, their motivation for online entrepreneurship decreased dramatically in this life event. For those who still insisted on, they had to juggle between paid work in the household and their online economic activities.  

Written by:
Peng Yiyi  & Wu Yuehan,  PhD candidates of Gender Studies, CUHK 
Marco Teng Wang, 
student of PhD in Linguistics, Hong Kong Baptist University