Gender Studies Programme - Wednesday Gender Seminars

Spring 2024

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

 

7 Feb 2024 (Wed) How Did East Asia Overtake South Asia on Gender?

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Both East and South Asia are polarized patriarchal societies, whereas over time, women in East Asia have begun to engage in paid work in the public sphere and have gradually gained a higher social status in comparison to the South Asia. Dr. Alice Evans introduces an essential concept “the Honour-Income Trade-Off”. Based on this concept, the reasons for gender divergences in East and South Asia can be categorized as follows.

On the one hand, there is relatively limited attention to female segregation in East Asian families compared to South Asian families. Therefore, women have seized the opportunity of rapid industrialization to obtain job opportunities, gaining an economic income outside the family and achieving the first step towards independence, which has liberated them and raised their social status. East Asian countries are realizing that women are the best labor force, which has led to large-scale employment of women, then women's self-reliance has brought about a mental and material shift away from traditional thoughts.

On the other hand, progress towards gender equality has been much slower in South Asia. The cultural traditions in South Asia are difficult to break through, as women are constrained to marry early and stay at home due to the strict constraints of men's families, social networks, and religion. At the same time industrialization in South Asia has not created enough employment opportunities, women rarely go out to work. The overall economic development in South Asia is slow and women's income is limited by caste restrictions that do not compensate for cultural preferences.

The seminar used a new lens to explain the differences in gender equality between East and South Asia, with cultural and economic differences contributing to a very different picture. As a woman in an East Asian context, I have clearly felt this transformation over the years. It is imperative for women to break free from patriarchy to create economic opportunities and empower us.

Written by: CAO, Jun

 

This lecture is titled How Did East Asia Overtake South Asia on Gender? Dr. Evans introduced the phenomenon that East Asian society shows more gender equality than South Asia with some possible factors by illustrating statistics data and charts.

First, Dr. Evans introduced one concept of the Patrilocal Trap of Asian society. She pointed out that South Asia remains a higher level of family-based social structure than East Asia, and held several examples to support her viewpoint, including the difficulty of getting a divorce, the different methods of class mobility, and the fact that elite women gave up labor ability by restrictions such as heavy suits and foot bonding.

Second, another model concerning the Honor-Income Trade-Off was shown to discuss how the impact of individual labor under modern manufacturing mode reacting to traditional social culture. One basic idea is that the more economic profits female labor could take back home, the better status and mentality women get, though this model still be influenced by solid cultural structure. Dr. Evans harbors the idea that the strong belief in religions resulted by stable ranks in South Asia can make people there pay more attention to Honor for ending in afterlife paradise instead of money even if they're poor, thus the attraction of income can be very weak to people in South Asian areas.

At last, Dr. Evans demonstrated graphs and charts to give statistical data to discuss how cultural liberalization beat economic development in South Asia, obviously, East Asian society is comparatively a place that has more free class mobility, more individual initiative without religious restrictions but only loyalty to the Ruler. This made East Asian women become more valuable in contemporary economic activities, and it may explain why East Asia can overtake South Asia in gender equality, which is also the key finding helping listeners to understand more about Asian gender normativity from a social perspective.

Written by: CHEN, Liqi

 

在2月7日的週三性別研討會上,來自倫敦大學國王學院的高級講師Alice Evans介紹了她的著作《性別大分化》(The Great Gender Divergence)中的一個章節:“東亞如何在性別上超越南亞?”

大約在1900年,東亞和南亞都屬於極端的父權社會,二者都陷入從夫居的陷阱(The Patrilocal Trap)中。婚姻的作用在於維繫和鞏固可信賴的商業和合作網絡,通過包辦婚姻,並要求女性侍奉丈夫、孝順公婆、從一而終,東亞和南亞家庭賴以生存的社會關係網絡得以鞏固。但在20世紀,東亞逐漸克服了從夫居的陷阱,越來越多的女性在公共領域從事有償工作,建立團結並獲得地位。然而,南亞的父權制更為頑固,男尊女卑、性別歧視和暴力仍是常態。

對此,Alice基於文獻研究法,以及她在東亞與南亞的定性訪談和田野調查的發現,引入了“名譽-收入權衡”(The Honour-Income Trade-Off)來解釋東亞與南亞在性別平等程度上的差異。Alice認為,每個父權制家庭都面臨著名譽(通過社會監管實現)和收入(通過剝削女性勞動力獲得)之間的權衡。男性希望通過各種形式的社會監管將女性隔離在家,以限制她們的經濟獨立並確保女性的貞潔,從而維持自己受人尊敬的權威地位和家庭名譽。然而,對女性的監管和隔離越多,家庭就越不能剝削她們的勞動力以換取經濟價值。因此,儘管社會理想是讓女性留在家,但有的家庭為了填補收入可能會選擇讓女性出去工作。然而,這必須與潛在的名譽損失進行權衡。Alice發現,受到經濟增長和文化的影響,東亞和南亞在名譽和收入之間所做出的權衡存在顯著的差異:南亞更注重監管和隔離女性;而東亞對於隔離女性的偏好較低,家庭更願意女性外出工作以換取收入。

Alice認為,東亞與南亞不同的社會文化背景是導致它們在名譽與收入權衡上存在差異的一個重要因素。這主要體現在不同的社會流動性,以及對物質和宗教的不同關注上。Alice將中國的科舉制度與印度的種姓制度進行比較,指出在以中國為核心的儒家文化圈中,統治者為了削弱世族的勢力以鞏固皇權,誕生了科舉制度這種相對公平的選拔機制,不論出身貧富,只要是熟讀儒家經典的男性均有機會通過考試來獲得地位和榮譽,這加強了社會流動的循環,人們相信能夠通過自己的努力來改變未來。因此東亞的文化更加關注當下的物質繁榮和成功。為了獲得更多財富,東亞家庭並不想將女性限制在家,而是傾向於讓女性外出工作掙錢。然而在南亞,種姓制度是一個嚴格的等級制度,人們的社會地位主要由出生所決定,幾乎沒有社會流動性。因此南亞的文化側重於宗教,人們相較於今生今世的物質繁榮更加關注神明、天堂和來世,嚴格的社會監管以及經濟激勵的缺乏使南亞女性更多的被隔離在家。

此外,Alice指出東亞與南亞不同的經濟發展水平也是導致名譽與收入權衡存在差異的重要原因。20世紀東亞工業化迅速發展,對勞動力的需求非常旺盛,經濟增長帶來了更高的工資,這增加了東亞家庭,尤其是農村貧困家庭限制女性的機會成本。此外,東亞由於結婚年齡較晚,有大量的未婚女性可以同時被雇用,這種同步效應有助於東亞家庭克服對名譽損失的擔憂,因而更加願意利用女性勞動力來應對新的經濟機會。

Alice強調,經濟發展本身可以鼓勵文化自由化。東亞經濟的快速增長促進了文化自由化,幫助東亞克服了從夫居的陷阱,進一步推動了性別平等。收入的增長以及從農村到城市的遷移削弱了東亞家庭對親屬關係網絡的依賴,女性不再以家庭為中心,可以自主決定生活方式而不用與夫家住在一起。婚姻的意義已經從鞏固可信賴的人際網絡轉變為尋求幸福,人們對離婚的接受度大大提高。名譽越來越多地以經濟上的成功而不是儒家思想來定義,收入更加受到重視,東亞女性優先考慮經濟獨立,父母也越來越依賴女兒經濟上的支持。隨著越來越多的女性進入職場並掌握話語權,她們在社交媒體、影視作品等領域公開倡导性別平等,抵抗父權,譴責暴力,推動新的文化理念。然而南亞由於經濟發展緩慢,家庭依然嚴重依賴親屬網絡,女性收入低微而不能彌補名譽的損失,所以她們依舊被隔離在家,深陷在從夫居的陷阱中。

Written by: CHEN, Peiwei

 

Alice Evans教授的本次講座內容是關於東亞與南亞地區的性別問題。她的研究包含了縱向與橫向兩個維度,在橫向時間軸維度上,她闡述了東亞與南亞的性別狀況是如何變化與發展的,並探討了背後蘊含的社會文化根基;同時,她通過縱向比較兩地區的社會現狀,指出隨著經濟的發展,東亞已在性別平等問題上超越南亞,取得了巨大進步。

儘管國家之間的社會習慣和文化習俗存在差別,但是亞洲地區因緊密的地緣關係和強勢的父系權力結構,不約而同地形成了“父系地方陷阱/圈套”(the patrilocal trap)。具體表現為,在東亞和南亞的父系社會權力結構下,婚姻是完成從父權到夫權對女兒的權力支配的重要手段,女兒在結婚前後分別隸屬於父親和丈夫。“家庭”是維持男性對女性壓迫的最小單位,維護家庭穩固是女人的道德責任,即使隨著社會發展,東亞與南亞地區的女性結婚年齡有所推遲,但無論婚前婚後,她們都囿於家庭,離婚在某些地區仍然不被允許。

在南亞社會,人的出身決定了其所在的社會階層,幾乎無法改變,如印度的種姓制度,在階級如此固定的社會背景之下,宗教發揮了作用,人們改變今生無望,因此將希望寄託於來世,男女恪守宗教準則,以期死後能上天堂。東亞社會如中國,雖有士農工商的階級劃分,但男人們可以通過科舉制度考取功名,在今生用教育實現階級躍遷,但女性自古被排除在這種社會制度與生活之外。

在上世紀90年代,東亞社會經濟迅速發展,大量工廠建立,對勞動力的需求急速增加,女性開始積極參與社會生產。經濟發展與文化開放的博弈在兩個地區顯示出了不同的結果。東亞社會對金錢的看重使得東亞家庭認為只要女性的勞動能為家庭帶來收入,便無需限制她們勞動(the honour-income trade-off);而在南亞社會,文化的保守壓倒了經濟效益,女性仍然被限制參與經濟活動。因此,東亞社會中女性勞動參與率和收入提高,離婚率上升,性別更加平等,而南亞社會與此相反,在印度南部地區,丈夫對妻子的家暴仍然普遍且被視為正常。 

Written by: DU, Qiongxuan

 

Fall 2023

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

 

29 Nov 2023 (Wed) Online Sexual Harassment, Harm and Relationality

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In the Wednesday Gender Seminar, Prof. Qi shared her findings that women in business and entrepreneurial areas tend to have the flexibility to perform and display gender roles, which could be studied as an inspiration for the possibility of decoding gender dichotomies. Qi brought up many examples of female entrepreneurs who had to obtain masculine ideas and rebuild themselves into more manly figures to gain trust and support in the business world. In this way, female identity is not constrained by the original gender itself but is determined by how one displays gender to present her identity. That is, identity is not what an individual has but the way the individual acts based on her willingness to be accepted by society in what way and what role she wants to play in the league, and how she reacts to social regulations and external impacts on her determination on doing what gender. For me, although female entrepreneurs behave as masculine figures who need to be tough, decisive, and manly, they, to some extent, are still different from male entrepreneurs. It’s the stereotypical social norms that label females as being sensitive and caring, so female leaders always have extra responsibilities to care for male workers’ mental stability and judging voices from women's communities. On the one hand, the increasing number of female entrepreneurs provides cases for both males and females to break out from the dichotomy in gender and social roles and recognize individual ability in performing personal gender roles according to self-preference instead of being restricted by society. It can expand the persona potential in different fields and also energize organizations to have new blood. 

On the other hand, I think the masculine display of female entrepreneurs somehow remains and solids the gender role binary. Suppose entrepreneurial success needs to be before masculinity. In that case, it reversely admits that only masculinity can make quick decisions, design business plans, deal with financial issues, obtain leadership, and be trusted by other supportive roles. While females have to pretend or turn themselves into masculine to shift their supporting roles into dominative positions, it somehow places femineity and masculinity on the two sides of a scale. It ignores any conversations about the third possibility in gender roles and has already accepted the unfair social status between males and females determined by the patriarchal society. I cannot see any progress in this way of doing gender. But there’s no doubt that the more female entrepreneurs we have, the more considerable decisions can be made. As mentioned before, females’ gender responsibility is seldom removed when they replace males in the business field. Families and caring are still attached to female identity.  

In conclusion, Prof. Qi thoroughly introduced what female entrepreneurs are, how they do and display gender, and what it means in the long term. I think we can have further conversations on whether female entrepreneurs can get rid of females’ domestic gender roles by being masculine in the business area and how to define women as entrepreneurs while spending time caring for families. 

Written by: ZHANG, Yingzi

 

In the general cultural sphere, entrepreneurship is widely characterized as a male rather than a female activity. A field such as entrepreneurship, which is charged with economic power, social authority, and organizational authority, is gender stereotyped as masculine. Masculine and feminine ideals of success produce a gendered dichotomy of perceptions of entrepreneurial success. In family businesses, it is commonly believed that women only have supporting and subservient positions while men take on leadership roles. 

However, Prof. Qi's fieldwork shows that the real situation is much more complex than generally presented. The various practices engaged in by women entrepreneurs have been neglected in the literature. Her research demonstrates that women entrepreneurs do not necessarily follow traditionally prescribed gender roles but strategically navigate cultural norms. Thus finding what they believe to be the optimal outcome for their businesses and families.  

On the other hand, while successful female entrepreneurs are increasingly recognized, their portrayal is often associated with a masculine ideal of success, thus postulating a female imitation of masculinity. However, Prof. Qi's presentation challenged the gender dichotomy in entrepreneurship. While it is true that businesspeople display gender, the reasons do not form the basis of the gender dichotomy as is often assumed. This display is subordinate to and serves the purpose of business success for women entrepreneurs. They tend to be strategic in demonstrating roles that correspond to the cultural meanings of gender. Aware of the implications of gender beliefs, their situational relevance and impact on customers. Entrepreneurs do not blindly follow expected roles but rather demonstrate gender roles that are appropriate and in the best interest of their business by sensing their clients' expectations. Entrepreneurs may actively demonstrate and implement gender in their practice to optimize the outcomes they seek. And they think in doing so, the construction of gender selves undergoes modification, elaboration, and instrumental mobilization.  

After participating in this presentation, I also reflected a bit on the gender strategies of women entrepreneurs in doing business. For a long time, people have been obsessed with the gender dichotomy in entrepreneurship but neglected the subjective initiative of women entrepreneurs. This presentation allowed me to learn about their gender strategies and strategically navigate cultural norms. 

Written by: ZHANG, Zheting

 

As Prof. Qi mentioned in her presentation “Female entrepreneurs do not necessarily follow conventionally prescribed gender roles but strategically navigate cultural norms finding what they regard as optimal outcomes for their business and also their family.” In traditional gender norms, society expects women's role to be that of a good wife and mother, responsible for taking good care of her husband, children, and family. Nowadays, more and more women are strengthening their social roles and values through successful entrepreneurship. In conventional wisdom, the opposite of women's career success is the dilution of women's family roles, which has led to the emergence of terms such as "superwomen" and "tiger girls". Prof. Qi has shown through her research that female entrepreneurs are not necessarily required to be 'tiger girls' to achieve business success. Business and family are not necessarily opposed to each other but rather can support and enriching each other. For female entrepreneurs, they have the right to choose whether to realize their self-worth in entrepreneurship or in taking care of their families and can balance the conflict between their families and their careers to achieve a win-win situation. 

Prof. Qi also mentioned while successful female entrepreneurs are increasingly acknowledged, the portrayal of them is typically associated with masculine ideals of success, thus postulating a female imitation of masculinity. She challenged persistent dichotomic approaches to gender in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs may actively display and perform gender in their practices to optimize the outcomes they seek. Female entrepreneurs display their gender identity not to gain recognition by mimicking masculinity, but to gain business benefits by displaying gender roles that are appropriate and in the best interest of their business. This proved that female entrepreneurs behaved strategically in displaying roles that corresponded to gendered cultural meanings. We should not define leadership in terms of gender, there are far more differences between people than those brought about by gender. Female entrepreneurs also have strengths such as holistic, empathetic, and resilient. Female entrepreneurs engage in gender strategies in doing business that challenge gender stereotypes and the gender dichotomy in entrepreneurship. 

Written by: ZHAO, Kaiyu

 

In the lecture Doing Gender and Displaying Gender as a Strategy: An Empirical Study of Female Entrepreneurs, Professor Xiaoying Qi discussed the gender strategies presented for female entrepreneurs in China. 

Entrepreneurship is widely perceived as a male rather than a female field of activity. Influenced by the stereotype, people believed that entrepreneurship requires typical masculinity. Constrained by the gender division of labor and role expectations in society, women are assumed to play only supportive and subordinate roles in family businesses, creating dichotomic approaches to gender in entrepreneurship. 

But the author’s empirical findings suggest that female entrepreneurs do not necessarily follow traditionally prescribed gender roles, but rather strategically follow cultural norms and seek the most beneficial outcomes. For example, Mrs Tang did not choose to inherit her parents' company, but rather established her own. This approach avoided a breach of family norms and challenging her father's leadership position. In this way, women entrepreneurs like Mrs. Tang are able to navigate cultural norms and thus escape role expectations that limit their ambitions. 

Moreover, successful female entrepreneurs are not necessarily required to be “tiger girls” in order to achieve business success. The new generation of entrepreneurs isn't just concerned with competition, profits, etc. in the traditional entrepreneurial framework. Business is just a part of life but not everything. Accordingly, business and family are not necessarily opposed to each other, but rather are capable of supporting and in reaching each other. 

Finally, entrepreneurs strategically behave in displaying roles that corresponded to gendered cultural meanings. They don’t necessarily behave in a gender-compatible way or follow expected roles blindly. They put on a display through the prism of perceived customer expectations and in the best interests of their business. 

This study challenges the dichotomic approaches to gender in entrepreneurship. And it reveals that while business people do engage in displaying gender, such displays are subordinate to and in service of the purpose of the business success. 

Written by: ZHU, Huiying

 

18 Oct 2023 (Wed) Online Sexual Harassment, Harm and Relationality

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The article, Online Sexual Harassment, Harm and Relationality, shared by Dr.Tang Yip and Prof, Susanne Choi Yuk Ping mainly talked about whether different relations provide empowerment or secondary victimization for people who have got online sexual harassment.

Leading with the example of Emma, whose private sex Video was shared without her consent and who then sought for help in many ways and got different outcomes, this article explored why did some relationships produce different outcomes and how did they are produced after disclosure?

Authors recruited interviewees from universities mass mailing platform and a gender research centre’s social media, finally in-depth interviews with 37 young people having different genders, sexual orientations, working status and education levels.

Firstly, online sexual harassment is a pressing issue of sexual violence and globally. And such harassment would bring primary harm, including emotional harms and social harms and emotionally secondary harms.

Then, Disclosing and help-seeking is a complex decision that depends on many factors, such as the type and severity of the harassment, the identity of the harasser, the availability of resources and the relationship with the informal network member. Relationships in this article included that with online platforms, with online forums, with police, with peer, with close friends, with intimate partner and online support group, etc.

Many cases are involved and outcomes varied. In this article, they were divided into three parts, secondary victimization, empowered and ambivalence.

This article presented a culturally relevant framework for relationships that takes relational attributes as a starting point and then categorizes the outcomes they produce into goods and bads, with the former ultimately leading to empowerment and the latter leading to secondary victimization, and intersecting at ambivalence one.

Aside form the knowledge related, it also provided some suggestions about the implications for intervention according to the framework.

Written by: WANG, Junjie

 

The speakers first used a respondent's story to reveal Cyber Sexual Harassment as an emergent global problem, which is causing much harm to victims. After summarizing findings from existing studies, they found the gap of offering limited explanations about why some relationships empower and others result in secondary victimization during the process of help-seeking. Thus they wanted to figure out why did some relationships produce positive outcomes and empower victims after their disclosure whereas other relationships result in secondary victimization.

The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 37 young people in Hong Kong between 2021-2023. The data shows primary harm and secondary harm raising from Cyber Sexual Harassment, which includes emotional harms and social harms, and different outcomes of victims seeking help from police, legal profession, online forums, peer, intimate partner and so on. The researchers built a culturally sensitive relational framework to explain how positive and negative outcomes were produced, that is, different relations with different attributes, for example intimate vs. distant, produce relational goods and relational bads, for example trust and mistrust, which then result in different outcomes, including empowerment and secondary victimization and ambivalence between them.

The research helps acknowledge primary and secondary harm and provides insights for understanding the causes and mechanisms of secondary victimization and further exploring the contexts that shape attributes, mechanisms, and outcomes of different types of relations for disclosure and help-seeking. The research also offers implication for intervention to support those who were victimized by Cyber Sexual Harassment, including creating or increasing access to relations with attributes that produce relational goods, cultivating relational goods and reducing relational bads.

Written by: WANG, Xiaoqing

 

With the development of technology, the broader concern is how technology will transform gender relationships, but then narrow concern is about the impacts of technology on new forms of sexual violence. Women, men, and the LGBT community are all at risk of being subjects or victims of sexual violence. This topic is about empowerment or secondary victimization, relationality and disclosure of cyber sexual harassment (CSH) . Sexual violence includes unwanted and offensive sexual messages, videos, text or or solicitation. For example, images, text and videos being shared without your consent. It is a problem that occurs frequently across the globe, and women are more likely to be victimized than men, but the percentage of men who are sexually harassed is not small, being 9.8%. However, these data are not representative of the total number of victims, as some victims do not report that they have been sexually harassed out of fear of secondary victimization on the Internet, such as stigmatization. Instead, they tend to seek informal channels to seek help and support from female friends, especially those who have not disclosed their sexual orientation to their families. Compared with sexual harassment committed offline, CSH has some distinctiveness, like the unbounded nature of the virtual world.

The reason why victims turn to a female friend is that families tend to produce

more negative outcomes than female friends. Primary harm raising from CSH includes emotional harms, social harms and emotional secondary harms. Social harms include social withdrawal and mistrust in intimate relationships. Secondary victimization can be caused by many relations, not only formal and informal. Online platforms lack sensitivity and awareness of online sexual harassment, normalize CSH and ignore complains from the victims. For the police, some victims say they don’t trust them because the police may undermine the nature or disability of online sexual harassment. The police also make victims felt disrespected and lack tangible outcomes. The expensive cost and economic barries in taking legal actions discourage victims from taking legal actions. Other reasons like online forums, peer presure and relationship between victim and neighbors can also cause victim’s fear of secondary victimization. When facing this, close friends and intimate partner should trust the victims and give them material and emotional support, also they can provide guiudance on handling online sexual harassment. And in other circumstances, online support group offer a safe and non-judgmental space for victims to speak up.

We should acknowledge primary and secondary harm and understand the causes and mechanisms of secondary victimization. For those who were victimized by CSH, we can create relations with attributes that produce relational goods. They need us to give them respect, trust and equality.

Written by: WANG, Zijie

 

Cyber Sexual Harassment (CSH) is an emergent global concern, encompassing various forms of online sexual violence such as unwanted sexual advances, unsolicited explicit content, and the non-consensual sharing of sexual messages/images on social media and other online platforms. CSH shares similarities with offline sexual harassment, but it also exhibits distinctiveness. For example, online anonymity enables perpetrators to commit violent acts without revealing their identities. Moreover, the connectivity and longevity of social networking sites (SNS) make CSH a collective and limitless form of victimization. Consequently, the embodied harms of CSH are real, serious, and even more depressing both psychologically and physically.

Many CSH victims opt not to report their experiences or are reluctant to seek help due to concerns about potential secondary victimization, such as blame, stigma, or community reprisal. However, disclosing CSH experiences can also yield positive effects, offering victims a sense of empowerment through mental support. Therefore, it is essential to explore the factors influencing the different outcomes of disclosure. Prof. Susanne Choi Yuk Ping, Dr. Tangi Yip, and their colleagues built a culturally sensitive relational framework from the field of sociology to investigate how relations influence the outcomes of disclosing CSH experiences.

Through in-depth interviews conducted with 37 young people in Hong Kong between 2021 and 2023, the study found that CSH’s primary harms include emotional harms (fear, disgust, shame, discomfort) and social harms (social withdrawal, mistrust

Written by: YU, Mengke

 

11 Oct 2023 (Wed) Marriage Unbound: State Law, Power, and Inequality in Contemporary China

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The book Marriage Unbound: State Law, Power, and Inequality in Contemporary China by Li Ke documents rural women’s experience of pursuing divorce in the court. From the women who struggled in strained marriage, Li Ke reveals the gender unequal marriage in society, politics, and power perspectives.

In the society perspective, with the deepening of the urbanization process and the large urban-rural population movement, the marriages of farmers are deeply affected. Women they also need psychological value from partners rather than the property, which is the only criterion for men.

In the politics perspective, Li Ke discover how did the state withdraw from the private lives of citizens, intervene in citizens' intimate lives by shifting from political campaigns to judicial means. The governing methodologies changes has gone through three phases of change. In the Maoist era, the dominant mode of state intervention was mass campaigns. From 1977 to late 1990s, mass campaigns gave way to people's mediation. And nowadays, The courts have become the main forum for the resolution of litigation and the defense of the institution of marriage. Multipronged system, comprising litigation, people's mediation, letters and visit, and other official measures have also become more important. It makes the private marriage controlled by the government.

In the power perspective, dispute resolution can be interpreted in terms of interconnected power relations. It includes three ways. First, formal decision-making power means that judges have their power to determines who prevails over the conflicts. Secondly, agenda-setting power delimits the scope of entering formal judicial deliberations. In Li Ke’s research, she discovered that the divorce approval rate have been decreased yearly. Thirdly, consciousness-formation power is acted by ideological indoctrination, acculturation, and other cultural processes. The power subject instills consent and compliance in disempowered groups, leaving rights contention not only unactionable, but unthinkable. All of these aspects happen surrounding us in
China. And the function of power exacerbates gender inequality.

Li Ke's description of the unequal marriages of rural women has given me a deeper understanding of the current situation in the contemporary countryside, the political and legal constraints and inequalities of divorce. It taught me not only about the phenomenon itself, but also about the methodology from a sociological perspective. It makes me how to conduct interdisciplinary research and to think more comprehensively when considering issues from the gender perspective. Overall, I would like to pay more attention to the gender inequality of specific groups and take them in detail in the future studies

Written by: LIU, Moxuan

 

Today's topic focuses on sharing the content and structure of the book: Marriage Unbound: State Law, Power, and Inequality in Contemporary China. In the book, the author analyses state law, power, and inequality in contemporary China by focusing on women's divorce cases and several prominent scenarios therein. In the Presentation, the author first introduces the case of Wang Guiping's unsuccessful lawsuit against her cheating husband, and then explains the structure of the book,and the structure of the book is described and analysed by the author in the following three parts.

In the first part, the link between labour migration and marital instability, the book takes a very nuanced look at how the massive growth of the urban population over the decades has reshaped families and marriages in China. The author illustrates the dramatic rise in China's divorce rate in recent decades with a chart depicting the increase in both the number of marriages dissolved by the courts and the number of divorces granted by the local government. And then the author uses a couple's experience to reveal how labour migration complicates the intimate lives of ordinary women and men and often leads to marital dissatisfaction and even divorce. It is mentioned that in the second chapter of the book, the intricate links between labour, migration and marital instability are detailed.

In the second part of the interplay of law and politics in authoritarian state, the author explains, by taking into account the historical trajectory of the Chinese revolution, that the mass movement gave way to people's mediation, and the PRC increasingly relied on litigation to intervene in people's marital affairs, but this behaviour cannot be seen as a shift of the authoritarian regime towards the law, but rather the ruling class strategically tap into diverse cultural traditions, Such traditions include, but not limited to the country's real or imagined routes in Confucianism, the Maoist past, socialist legacies and foreign influences, including influences from liberal democracies, by weaving legality and extra legality into its ruling by mobilisation. Issues related to the development of Chinese law are further elaborated in Chapters 3 and 4 of the book.

In the third section on power, and inequality within and outside the courts in China, the authors raise the issue of inequality in family litigation and propose a power-centred framework that includes two types of power, the first being power relations, which the authors refer to as formal decision making power, and which refers to the type of power that determines who has the upper hand in resolving public conflicts and divorce proceedings. The second refers to agenda-setting power, which is the type of power relationship that limits the scope of official decision-making by excluding certain issues or certain participants from formal deliberations. The authors also illustrate the increasing rate of withdrawal of divorce proceedings through data and point out that it is explained in detail in chapter 5 of the book.

The author concludes by suggesting that by collaborating with colleagues from multiple disciplines, she hopes the book will allow readers to see the complex relationship between authority, internal rules, legal institutions, social inequality, and, of course, power relations.

In the Q&A part, the authors answer the question of whether female judges do not tend to provide more favourable outcomes for female litigants in litigation cases due to the same institutional environment, regardless of gender identity, from the point of view of social structure and social hierarchy. And from an ideological point of view, such as the political significance in the party space, ruling methodology and the idea that family explains why the state should intervene in the intimate relationships of citizens, such as the establishment of a cooling-off period from the legal point of view in order to reduce the rate of divorce from a macro point of view.

Written by: PENG, Xiaoya

 

Ke Li unfolded her talk along three lines. First, the linkage between labor migration and marital instability. Second, the interplay of law and politics in authoritarian state. Third power and inequality within and outside chinese courts.

First, Li discussed how rural women's participation in labor migration has reshaped chinese family and and marriage. In her perspectives, rural women's participation in the urban workforce extends their day to day interactions with men outside the home. In that sense, labor migration offers women not only the opportunity of financial independence, but fresh opportunity to reimagine and rearrange their intimate relationships. In addition, as women embark on labor migration, the traditional pattern of division of labor in the family is under attack. Many men show anxiety, jealousy, anger and even violence towards their wives, which hurts their relationship.

Then, Li discussed the evolving legal and dispute resolutionsystems in the PRC, emphasizing the regime's approach to governing and adapting. She pointed that the PRC has cultivated in multiple system for dispute management. Rather than hanging on one methodology: judicial or extrajudicial, the PRC has imbricated the two as part and parcel of its governing tool kit.This flexible approach helps them adapt to new challenges. However, it can sometimes lead to unexpected issues or consequences.

Third, Li discussed her research and findings related to power dynamics and gender inequality in the Chinese legal system, particularly in divorce cases. Li started by highlighting Wang Huiping ‘s case. Wang had to give up her property rights while her husband faced minimal legal consequences for his actions, including domestic violence and cohabiting with another woman. However, this is a very common situation. Li conducted research on 198 divorce lawsuits and found that, in the grassroots court system, women often fared worse than men.

To better understand these gender inequalities in the legal system, Li proposed a "power-centered framework". This framework includes three types of power relationships:

1. Formal decision-making power: Judges usually sided with husbands as opposed to wives in divorce cases, leading to women losing property and rights.

2. Agenda-setting power: This type of power determines which issues or topics can be discussed in the legal process. Li presented a figure which showed that Chinese judges have increasingly applied withdraw as a mode to dispose of divorce lawsuits at the beginning of this time period in 1974. In addition, lawyers often focus on property division and child custody while overlooking or ignoring complaints of domestic violence.

3. Conscious formation power: Power holders shape women's beliefs and expectations through ideological indoctrination and cultural processes. Therefore women often remain silent on their lawful entitlement to land holding.

Therefore, when these three power relationships work against women, gender inequality deepens during dispute resolution, despite decades of legal reforms in China.

In conclusion, the author suggests that looking at divorce through this conceptual lens can provide insights for sociologists, political scientists, social legal researchers, and China scholars. The book aims to allow readers to see the complex relations among authoritarian rule, legal institutions, social inequality, and power relationships.

Written by: QIN, Kaixin

 

In this week's seminar, Prof. Li provided us with a thorough overview of how widespread migration from rural to urban regions has changed families, marriages, and gender relations in China with the support of real-world examples.

Prof. Li begins by explaining the connection between labor mobility and unstable marriages. With the reform of agriculture, the influx of foreign investment, the development of the service economy, and the relaxation of national policies, more and more rural women have begun to migrate to the cities, mainly to work in labor-intensive industries. In addition to offering women the much-needed financial independence, labor migration poses an unprecedented threat to marriages shaped by traditional patriarchy. In the case of Yuan Yue, a migrant worker, her work outside the village triggered distrust and suspicion from her husband, and when suspicion and accusation evolved into ridicule, humiliation, and emotional and physical abuse, their marriage would come to an end.

Then, we look into the interaction of law and politics in Authoritarian States. From the mass movements of the Maoist era to the people's mediation of the socialist period to today's multipronged system, marital disputes rely more on the judiciary. However, such judicial solutions have serious limitations and pitfalls. Women from rural areas often end up losing most of their rights as wives, mothers, property owners and land users.

At last, Prof. Li uses divorce proceedings as a window, showing us how three different types of power operate - agenda-setting power, consciousness-formation power, and formal decision-making power - all of which entrench institutional practices within the courts and in the surrounding rural communities. When all three types of power work against women, gender inequality inevitably emerges and deepens in the dispute resolution process. Ultimately, rather than being a weapon for the weak, legal mobilization and litigation exacerbate and reproduce inequalities between ordinary men and women.

To conclude, this seminar provided me with an understanding of the processes, mechanisms and power dynamics that affect women's experience of disputes and litigation within and outside of the courts – women's rights are often not upheld by the regional government, the legal profession, or the justice system.

Written by: SHAO, Tianhua

 

On last Wednesday’s gender seminar, Li shared some intriguing cases and key findings from her book Marriage Unbound: State Law, Power, and Inequality in Contemporary China published by Stanford Press. In her talk, she started from introducing the divorcing case of Wang Guiping, a female migrant worker who came to urban area to make a living and thus lived away from her husband in their rural home. Li argued that urban lives often empower these migrant women with the opportunities to build new social connections and more space to explore different forms of intimate relationships that could hardly exist in rural China. Based on Wang Guiping’s and other rural women’s case, Li explained why increasingly more rural migrant women want to get out of unhappy marriages. She provided a detailed account of several rural women’s marital life and how their participation in labor migration causes marital tensions and extramarital affairs. Drawing on these women similar experience, Li was trying to unpack the complex relationship between labor migration and marital instability in China, particularly within rural communities. The employment of rural women in urban environments not only fosters economic self-reliance but also engenders aspirations for financial stability, personal liberty, emotional fulfillment, and a redefined intimate relationship that satisfies these aspirations.

After introducing the emerging pattern among rural women who seek for divorce, Li gave us a brief overview about how the state had used different methods to intervene in marital disputes according to its goals in different historical periods. She argued that people’s private lives in PRC were always highly intertwined with the state’s power, where the insiders of the judicial system including legislators, judges, and government officials impose their power on marital dispute resolution to achieve the state’s goal (building a harmonious socialist society). However, women’s right for child custody, property, and landholding were often sacrificed or ignored under judicial insiders’ manipulation of decision.

In conclusion, Li’s findings revealed that principle of gender equality, although enshrined in law, is seldom fully actualized or granted priority for realization. Similarly, the freedom pertaining to marriage and divorce, as guaranteed by law, are also susceptible to failure when confronted with power dynamics. It highlights the complex and nuanced interactions between legal provisions and their practical implementation, particularly in the context of gender relations and marital rights.

Written by: TU, Lingyan

 

4 Oct 2023 (Wed) Exploring the role of trauma in underpinning sexualised drug use (‘chemsex’) among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Singapore

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“Chemsex”, related to but distinct from broader sexualized drug use, generally refers to use of psychoactive substances within sexual contexts. With growing research indicating its prevalence in gender and sexual minority populations and its associations with HIV, STIs and mental health comorbidities, it is considered to be an urgent public health and health equity issue. Primarily drawing from his recent qualitative study examining “chemsex” engagement amongst gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in Singapore, Dr. Tan’s talk centered around the multidimensional antecedents underlying this phenomenon.

Under an interpretivist epistemological orientation, the qualitative study employed positionality/reflexivity-informed semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 33 self-identified GBMSM in Singapore followed by inductive thematic analysis. The interview process inquired into participants’ life histories and “chemsex”-related experiences, and participant welfare was ensured through methodological incorporation of anonymity protecting mechanisms coordinated by community-based organizations and the National University of Singapore. Interview results suggested several factors driving GBMSM’s chemsex engagement, including: 1) positive, desired aspects of “chemsex” (e.g., connectedness, sexual enhancement), 2) “chemsex” as a mechanism to cope with varied precipitants (e.g., sexual shame, low self-esteem), 3) traumatic underpinnings of such precipitants (e.g., intracommunity racism, societal-level homophobia), and 4) trauma-reinforcing preconditions of “chemsex” (e.g., sexual capital emphasis, lack of mainstream or institutional support structures). From such results, a trauma-informed, socio-ecological framework to conceptualize “chemsex” was proposed.

Dr. Tan’s talk ultimately provides novel, nuanced sociopolitical insights into “chemsex”, as well as challenges biomedical and pathologizing understandings of “chemsex” which characterize some extent of past literature and predominate popular discourse. Significant practical implications for community and healthcare settings may also be inferred, particularly the development of person-centered, multi-pronged harm prevention and reduction strategies to counter problematic forms of “chemsex”, especially in vulnerable minority populations.

Written by: LEUNG, Sinyu

 

Dr. Rayner TAN shared his recent work on what drives for underpinning sexualized drug use in the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) community in Singapore, with a special focus on the role of trauma. Sexualized drug use, also termed as ‘chemsex’, generally refers to the use of psychoactive substances for sexual reasons. This study conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 33 GBMSM participants and used thematic analysis to analyze the interviews. The interview topics revolve on life history, trauma, HIV status, chemsex, barriers to accessing drug use recovery services, and incarceration.

As a result, a trauma-informed framework was conceptualized to describe the factors driven for sexualized drug use from psychological, societal, and structural levels. Firstly, for the positive and desired aspects of chemsex, participants stated that they experienced positive emotional states, sexual enhancement, love and intimacy. Secondly, participants explained their precipitants to chemsex. They regarded chemsex as a coping strategy to address individual and interpersonal stress (e.g., emotional wounds, loneliness, sexual shame, and social connections) and external stress related to work, finance, and family. Thirdly, participants pointed out the significant role of trauma in sexualized drug use, which came from HIV-related stigma, racism, homophobia, religious trauma, neglect, sexual violence, death and loss. Lastly, the societal and structural context resulted in preconditions that reinforced participants to engage in chemsex. The drug used for sex is easy to access, and the environment accepts chemsex as a norm. Besides, there is limited formal support for the GBMSM community such as LGBTQ friendly aftercare, family support, and legal support. On the other hand, participants also reported that the inadequate available help, stigma about drug use, and fear of being reported impeded their motivation seeking for caring support.

Overall, the research investigated sexualized drug use from the lens of coping strategies to trauma. It showed that the GBMSM community reinforced the experiences of sexualized drug use to cope with trauma and other societal factors but were also precluded from getting formal support due to those unfriendly preconditions. Even though chemsex may not cause problematic addiction and health issues to everyone, more inclusive interventions are needed for the GBMSM community to receive drug use treatment care and support.

Written by: LI, Ang

 

This lecture aims to explore the role of trauma in underpinning sexualised drug use ('Chemsex') among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Singapore. The speaker is divided into five parts to illustrate this topic: Introduction: Sexualized Substance Use or ‘Chemsex’, Preliminary Work on Sexualized Substance Use, ‘chasing utopias’: methods, Findings and Discussion.

First of all, in the introduction, the controversy caused by Chemsex as a public health issue was introduced. Then the speaker listed the related data of ‘Sexualized Drug Use in Key Populations’ and the motivation factors leading to this phenomenon. He then shifts his perspective to explore the underlying logic behind ‘The Rush To Risk’. What surprised me in this part is that the data and proportion of the use of sexualized drug exceeded my expectation, and the reasons behind it mentioned that the use of drugs does not necessarily have side effects, and drugs can also play a spiritual auxiliary effect in addition to physiological effects in sexual behavior.

Secondly, in the Preliminary Work, the speaker set Rationale and Objectives, and referred to previous works on Chemsex for research design and implementation. The survey covered Chemsex measures, Class differences, Social Capital and more.

Thirdly, the research method part states four aspects: Study Design & Participants, Date Generation, Topic Guide, Positionality & Reflexivity. The date generation mentioned the design principles and some details of the interview. First, in-depth interviews can be conducted on the basis of ensuring that the human rights of the interviewees are not infringed. Second, the interview can be conducted on the premise that the interviewer and interviewees do not know each other, so that the interview content can be as free from the influence of subjective consciousness as possible. In other words, if the two know each other, the interviewer will have preconceived ideas and affect the thinking and judgment of this research topic.

Next, the speaker summarized the key findings: First, positive and desired Chemsex can bring a sense of peace, sexual enhancement, love and intimacy. Second, precipitants, from the perspective of individual and interpersonal, have emotional wounds, loneliness, sexual shame and social connections; From the perspective of external factors, it is mainly caused by work-related stress, financial and family-related stress. Third, Different types of trauma caused by Intracommunity, general society and discrete incidents, namely HIV-related stigma and racism; homophobia, religious trauma, neglect; sexual violence, death and loss. Fourth, is four Preconditions: 1. Normative aspects: Ease of access, Chemsex as a norm; 2. Sexual capital: Sexual attractiveness as self-worth, Lack of safe spaces; 3. Lack of formal support: No LGBTQ-friendly aftercare, Lack of family support, Lack of legal support; 4. Barriers to care: Perceived lack of available help, Stigma around drug use, Fear of being reported.

Finally, there is the discussion section. the speaker believes that Data generated reflects just this slice of lived experiences and world views. At the same time, three aspects of Person-centred harm reduction interventions are proposed: 1. Sexualized drug use journey; 2. Engagement in sexualized drug use; 3. Personal Life Course.

Written by: LI, Yushan

 

The theme of the seminar this week is ‘exploring the role of trauma in underpinning sexualized drug use (‘chemsex’) among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Singapore’. First of all, Dr Tan shared the definition of sexualized drug use, which means the use of psychoactive substances for the purpose of having sex or in sexual contexts, and the key population of sexualized drug users are gay and transgender women. Then Dr Tan introduced the motivating factors of for sexualized drug use, including enhanced and extended sexual gratification and pleasure, freedom and confidence to explore sexual fantasies, pride and empowerment and so on. In order to best understand the risk of sexualized drug use, Dr Tan suggested us to acknowledge non-problematic use, simultaneously reframing the role of drugs in sexual behaviors and moving beyond biomedical forms of understanding, while he also introduced some research from different viewpoints and cite the relevant studies in Singapore, importantly including the modified socio-ecological framework of factors driving chemsex among GBMSM. Based on presentation upon, Dr Tan shared his study design and method, through purposive and theoretical saturation guided sampling 33 participants were recruited into the research and carried out on the basis of interpretivist epistemological orientation. The findings of this study mentioned four aspects: positive and desired chemsex (participants articulated desired and positive aspects of chemsex), precipitants (individual and interpersonal reasons including emotional wounds, loneliness, sexual shame etc.), trauma (in intracommunity, general society and discrete incidents), preconditions (normative aspects, sexual capital, lack of formal support, barrier to care etc.). After all, Dr Tan concluded the findings of the study, although the generated data only reflects slice of lived experiences and world views, the chemsex journey and its harm and reduction still make a sense to the various realms of homosexual research.

Written by: LI, Zhixin

 

On 4th Oct 2023, Wednesday Gender Seminar invited Dr Rayner Tan to share his research on the role of trauma in underpinning sexualised drug use (‘chemsex’) among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in Singapore.

Although “chemsex” as a public health issue has been widely studied in public health scholarship, there is a tendency to oversimply frame and label sexual drug use as pathological or risky, which conflates various problems and may further generate and reinforce stigmatization of sexual minorities. Dr Tan, thus, emphasized the need to acknowledge multiple motivations and move beyond biomedical forms of understanding. He shifted the research focus to the structural and social context of SDU to better understand causes and debunk problematic narratives. In his study, “trauma” was a strong and recurrent theme underpinning informants’ reports, which is understudied in the existing literature.

Dr Tan’s qualitative study adopted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 33 participants who were self-identified GNMSM and seeking treatment in Singapore. Interview topics included participants’ experiences and life histories of SDU, substance use, incarceration, trauma, and recovery stories. In reports, desired and positive aspects were articulated, such as peace, intimacy, and sexual enhancement. They took chemsex to cope with ‘precipitants’, a term referring to emotions and situations like negative individual and interpersonal issues and stressful external factors like family-related stress. Participants further pointed out how trauma experience provided context for ‘precipitants’ and underpinned them. Such trauma included three significant types: intracommunity, including HIV-related stigma and racism; general society, including internalization of homophobia and discrete incidents. Importantly, these traumas were related to 4 kinds of ‘preconditions’, including the accessibility of substances, sexual capital, lack of formal support and barriers to care, which also, in turn, motivate engagement in chemsex.

Grounded in sexualized drug users’ life stories, Dr Tan’s trauma framework offers a refreshing perspective to understand how social and structural factors produce and reinforce SDU and suggests the necessity to address individual trauma and structural problems when intervention.

Written by: LIU, Danchen

 

 27 Sep 2023 (Wed) Gender Pattern in Livelihood Choices and Economic Consequences for Rural Households in China

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Under the liberation theory, women got out of house and work just like men and argued that “women substituted for men and freed men to undertake more new projects. Later, collectivization during the 1950s dismantled the house as a production unit but facilitated women’s participation in agricultural work. However, women still received lower work points although they did the same work as men. The economic reform launched in the late 1970s led to agricultural decollectivization and made the household once again the basic unit of production and in early reform era, the main strategy is to pursue local non-farm work for diversity such as township enterprises. So women take up more responsibilities in farming and also do some sideline work during off-farm seasons. After mid-1990s, migration to other places has become more dominant compared to local non-farm opportunities.

Under some theoretical background, we can hypothesize that:

· Compared to women, men are more likely to engage in non-farm work.

· By renegotiated gender role and with more opportunities, over time there will be a convergence of men and women in non-farm labor force participation.

· Marriage may set a constraint for rural woman and the extent of it has reduced over time.

· Women are more likely to pursue jobs in cities where there are more gender equal opportunities but the gap is reducing over the time.

The study find that although the gap between unmarried men and women has closed over time, there is no sign that the gap between married is closing. Women, in particular married women, are behind men in expanding both local and distant non-farm livelihood choices.

This reminds me of the topic of whether the active choice of a housewife is considered a woman's freedom, which was much debated in mainland China before. I think we can discuss that being a housewife is a choice, but should not forget that society still doesn't have a reasonably positive perception of the unpaid labor of housewives. We need to see the unresolved problems underneath this structural oppression and left behind by the patriarchal tradition. Women are facing many social problems.

Written by: GUO, Yijia

 

In the past few decades, with the rapid growth of rural areas and the increasing disassociation between livelihood and agriculture, rural people seemed to have more searches on their livelihood choices. During historical periods such as the “Great Leap Forward” and the Economic Reform periods, people began to focus on women’s agricultural work capability. Instead of aligning with the traditional communal gender role expectations, women were encouraged to leave their houses and work just like men. However, women were considered “substituting for men” or getting lower work points despite doing the same work as men.

Based on this background, the speaker introduced two studies to discuss the gender pattern in livelihood choices and consequences for rural households over the transition period in China. In the first study, researchers examined whether the gender gap and female disadvantages in livelihood choices have changed by analyzing data from the China Health Nutrition Survey. The sample were rural people aged between 18 to 54 years old. Results found that more rural people participated in non-farm work over time. Marital status constrained both men and women to take on non-farm jobs. Furthermore, though unmarried people did not show significant gender differences in their livelihood strategies, married women were less likely to choose non-farm jobs than married men, and this gap seemed not to be narrowed over time.

In the second study, researchers considered the key household members and compared female and male heads’ livelihood choices. They analyzed the data from The China Family Panel Studies and their sample was married rural people aged 20-65. According to their results, more people chose distant non-farm work over time. People were more likely to take on distant non-farm jobs when their household heads were young, especially when they were women. This livelihood choice from the household head was a strong predictor of household income growth. These results implicated that the livelihood choices of rural people are gendered and the family status may predict and affect rural people’s livelihood choices and consequences.

Written by: HE, Chuting

 

The theme of the second week's seminar was “Gender pattern in livelihood choices and consequences for rural households over the transition period in China", which was shared by Prof. Yuying Tong. She recounted two separate but connected studies under this project.

The first study focused on "the expanding search for work: gender gap in rural Chinese people's livelihood changes from 1989 to 2015". In the past few decades, rural areas around the world have experienced rapid growth in the diversification of rural household livelihood strategies. In China, the diversification process was accompanied by some important historical periods. Against this background, three research questions were posed to explore what are the gaps in livelihood choices between men and women. The hypotheses were analyzed by using data and samples from the China Health Nutrition Survey, identifying variables and incorporating APC models. Three conclusions were deduced as follows. First, men are more likely to work in non-farm positions and the gender gap shows little sign of convergence. Second, the gap between unmarried men and women is narrowing but for married women, the closing trend is somewhat handicapped. Third, women are behind men in expanding both local and distant non-farm livelihood choices.

The second study was a continuation of the first, which focused on key family members. The topic was “Female vs. men head's livelihood choices and household income growth in rural China from 2010 to 2018". The debate has been continuing for decades on whether migration as a livelihood choice is beneficial to rural household economic development. From the family life course perspective, the study used family as the unit of analysis and the household head’s age represented the household life course stage. The conclusions were drawn by utilizing data from the China Family Panel Studies (2010-2018) with Growth Curve models. The results showed that the livelihood choice of the household head is a strong indicator of household income growth in terms of both intercept and slope. At the same time, the migration of the household head generally favored the growth of rural household income.

Written by: HU, Bei

 

At the beginning, the author briefly introduced her social demography backgroud and the inflence of gendered life course, which finally led her to the subject of migration and family.

The first research is about the gender division of labor and industrial changes in rural areas of China. In the process of upgrading the industry, the separation of agricultural jobs and non-farm jobs, and the separation of places of residence and work are two major trends around the world. Gender role specialization and renegotiation have provided a theoretical basis for those phenomena. This study uses a sample of the labor force in rural areas in recent decades, using agricultural labor and non-agricultural labor as the benchmark, to examine women's disadvantaged status in job opportunities, the convergence of the gender gap, and the impact of marital status on it. Empirical results show that men are indeed more likely to obtain non-agricultural job opportunities, and the gender gap never decreases. Additionally, marriage is proved to be an obstacle for women to purse their own career freely, which forms a stark contrast to male partners both in local and distance non-agricultural jobs. Trends for gender equality at work in rural areas remain bleak, in consequence of which private and public support should be provided to rural women, especially those who are married and have children.

The second research focus on the migration of rural household heads. Although the dual impact of migration on household economic status has often been discussed, local non-farm labor force is largely neglected, as well as their livelihood chioces and outcomes. This research concentrates on non-migrants and adopts a ‘house life course’ perspective, in order to study livelihood chioces and income growth trajectory. It turns out that the household heads’ livelihood chioces can strongly predict household income, and the migration of them is economically beneficial; However, such effect is contingent on their life course--it becomes very different between farming group and non-farming group, which means that we are supposed to separate these two groups when studying left-behind villagers.

Written by: JIANG, Yufei

 

 

The topic of the lecture on September 27th is Gender Pattern in Livelihood Choices and Consequences for Rural Households over the Transition Period in China.

Two separate but connected studies under this research project

Study A:The Expanding Search for Work: Gender Gap in Rural Chinese People's Livelihood Changes from 1989 to 2015

Background:

Under the influence of China's special historical moments such as the "Great Leap Forward" and economic reform,Livelihood has become disassociated with agriculture overtime and Increased labor mobility has separated the locations of work and home places for rural people.

3 conclusions emerged from the study A:

1. In terms of gender labor division, men are more likely to do non-farm work, and gender differences still exist.

2. Married women have greater barriers to work than married men.

3. The immigration gap between the two groups - married men and married women working locally as non-farm laborers - has been widening.

4. Rural women need family and institutional support to continue their non-agricultural work after marriage and childbirth.

Study B:Considering the Key Household Members: Female vs. Men Head's Livelihood Choices and Household Income Growth in Rural China: 2010 to 2018

Background:

There has been a decades-long debate about whether migration as a livelihood option is beneficial to the economic development of rural families, with some arguing that it benefits the family and others arguing that it has a negative impact.

2 conclusions emerged from the study B:

1. When examining the left-behind villagers, it is necessary to choose to separate the two livelihoods.

2. The migration choice of household heads contributes to rural household income growth.

Through this class, I paid attention to the gender inequality in labor distribution in rural areas that I had never paid attention to before, and the fact that married men and women also face great differences in work after marriage. I will also have a deeper understanding of gender studies, in fact, not only limited to the broad level, in fact, those remote areas of gender issues are also worthy of attention

Written by: WANG, Ziqi

 

20 Sep 2023 (Wed) Emerging New Gendered Roles in Chinese Rural Families among Female Vocational College Students

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This presentation focuses on the neglected field of vocational education in rural China, concentrating on the progression of women's roles.

It begins with a background on vocational education in China. Vocational education is promoted in China to train skilled workers and foster development and high-paying jobs. Three main types of vocational school students were identified: children of rural migrant families, students with working-class backgrounds, and youth with other rural backgrounds.

The presentation featured two vocational colleges where most of the students come from rural areas and need loans to attend school. The marks scored by the students in the exams were too low, forcing them to choose vocational education. Professor Anita Koo found that there are inequalities in vocational education experiences. Men tended to study engineering, while most women studied programs such as nursing to enter the service industry. Both male and female students desired to gain better employment opportunities through education, whereas their educational choices were correlated with the needs of the gendered labor market.

Then Professor Anita koo interviewed the rural female students with questions about their educational decisions and life-planning. Rural women prioritize self-development and achievement through vocational education, and young women are beginning to aspire to financial independence and delay their marriage time. The female students believe that through this training they can counteract the traditional family system where rural women are seen as secondary and subordinate. They choose safe career paths as they consider practicality to be more valuable. Nevertheless, rural Chinese women's desire for a caregiving role persists. This is closely related to the cultural context of rural communities in China, where their desire is to be valuable daughters. In appreciation of the support from their parents, they prefer to stay in their hometowns and become caretakers of their families. Men, on the other hand, take risks and become themselves to fight for the future.

In summary, the presentation brought about directions I had never thought about and exposed some issues. The advancement of women in education is an important transformation that enables them to obtain stable jobs in society and become independent women. These successful female students have economic autonomy, bringing new hope and influencing more female students. However, in the context of China's rural culture, it is difficult for women to break out of the role of family contributors.

Written by: CAO, Jun

 

This lecture is titled as Emerging New Gendered Roles in Chinese Rural Families among Female Vocational College Students. Prof. Koo introduced the concept and influential factors of vocational education in China, pointing out analysis directions or questions with her research results after collecting lots of quantitative data.

First, Prof. Koo pointed out that vocational education is important but neglected. The rate of 40% students entering the vocational track represented the inequality of resources and opportunities, which was shown by the composition of students who were basically from rural or working-class backgrounds and got low grades in public examinations. With the development of industrialization and urbanization, expanding vocational education improved more opportunities to rural students, especially young women, but it seems that the regional and gender gap didn't narrow in higher educational attainment.

Second, information concerning vocational college students were shown to discuss the impact of increased educational attainment on social values. Prof. Koo demonstrated cases from two vocational colleges in Bijie and Lanzhou region. By attending vocational colleges, students who failed to enter universities claimed subjectivities to achieve self-development, as Chinese youth had created new explanation of subjectivites. For rural female students, attending vocational colleges is regarded as personal intention for both individual success and convenience of natal family, concequently they have a strong sense to pursue economic independence instead of romantic relationships, but their achievements from realistic choices targeting “good major/courses” only for female still reflects gender stereotypes and segregation.

At last, Prof. Koo discussed how the vocational education forced social change by transforming the gender norms and how this training empowers female students. The key finding is that the new roles of young rural women is “valuable daughters” which is not acknowledged by the old patriarchal system. Their motivation of taking vocational education is trying to actively take responsibilities to prove ability or subjectivity by providing financial, emotional and physical contributions to natal family, which greatly enhances their sense of self-worth. However, this empowered agency may not challenge but strengthened the gendered structure of the labor market and the primary caregiving role of women in the family.

Written by: FONG, Yuk Ping

 

Prof. Anita Koo presented her research on the emerging new gendered roles in Chinese rural families among female vocational college students.

The rapid expansion of China’s higher education and labor market has led to the expansion of the important but neglected vocational education system, which provides young people who have failed public examinations the opportunity to realize their neoliberal dream. However, improvements in educational opportunities have not narrowed regional and gender gaps in higher education attainment, especially for female and rural students, gender segregation is more pronounced in poorer areas. These factors prompted Prof. Koo to focus her research on female students in vocational colleges who grew up in poor rural areas.

Prof. Koo conducted fieldwork in two vocational colleges in Bijie, Guizhou, and Lanzhou, Gansu, the poor provinces in western China. More than 80% of the students were from surrounding rural areas. Prof. Koo used in-depth interviews to explore the complexity of gender subjectivity among the new generation of educated rural female students.

The interviews revealed that these girls all emphasized the importance of economic independence. They resisted traditional patriarchal arrangements through education and employment, and planned to develop their careers before considering marriage. However, unlike career women, “reality” rather than inner passion, personal interest, or self-realization is the common decision-making attitude of these girls when making education and career choices, and “life stability” is more important than future development opportunities. What they consider a good major is defined by a highly gendered labor market. This is influenced by the social and cultural background of Chinese rural communities. Underneath their strong desire for economic independence and pragmatic choices about education and career lies their strong desire to become “valuable daughters” of their natal families. They hope to provide continuous financial, emotional, and material support to their parents through the three new roles of economic role, care taker, and supporter, thereby changing the devalued status of daughters in the patriarchal system. Gaining a sense of self-worth and meaning by actively assuming the family responsibilities and contributions traditionally expected only from sons is central to their gendered subjectivity.

Overall, although these female rural students know the importance of work for economic independence, they do not regard being a career woman as a measure of self-worth. Instead, they use their relational nature to measure their contributions. By shaping themselves into “valuable daughters”, they complete self-realization in the process of providing support to their natal families. However, Prof. Koo also pointed out that such an empowered agency does not necessarily challenge the gender structure of the labor market and women’s primary caregiving role in the family but instead reinforces gender segregation. Nevertheless, they think it is a massive change because they gain a new identity.

Written by: CHEN, Peiwei

 

This seminar focuses on female vocational school students ’ educational decisions and the life-planning and explores the factors that shape the goals and future roles of this new generation by doing fieldwork in Bijie, Guizhou and Lanzhou, in order to give a better understanding of the subjectivities of female rural students and to think about how can they exercise their agency and construct their own identities.

According to the situation of traditional rural women who married early, female students in vocational colleges think they are different from them. They resist the traditional arrangement- be married in their late teens and stay at home to take care of kids- and refuse to be subordinated in the partrilineal family system.

The importance of economic independence is their main concern. Those female students believe that girls need to have their own careers and if they are financially independent, they are better able to help their parents and have more confidence if they get married someday.

To increase one’s likelihood of being employed in the highly gendered labour market, the female students choose to be more realistic and will go for the major that are suitable for girls and the job that can provide a stable life, which reinforces the occupational gender segregation. They intentionally retreat from the skilled manual jobs. The education doesn’t bring significant change to the gender structure in the labour market.

Behind their hope for economic independence and pragmatic choice in education and occupation, they actually aspire to be valuable daughters for their original family. They take the role of economic resources to contribute to their parents, the role of close-distance care takers and the role of supporter for their younger (male) siblings to go further and achieve bigger.

The gendered subjectivities of female vocational students in rural area come from taking up the responsibilities and contributions to their family that were previously expected only for sons. They seem to have more agency, but it doesn’t challenge the gender structure in labour market and the primary role of women in the family.

Written by: DU, Qiongxuan

 

Vocational education in China has been overlooked both academically and in policy discussions, and students engaged in vocational education have been stigmatized as "failures" and marginalized in society. However, after 2000, China's higher vocational education, in conjunction with national manufacturing policies, offered a new neoliberal dream for these marginalized students. How can we understand liberation and progress within this marginalized context? Professor Koo's remarkable qualitative research on rural vocational college students portrays the challenges and choices of rural young men and women entering higher vocational education. Particularly, when male students' employment aspirations are entangled with the national dream, female students' choices become active, long-term, and highly strategic decisions. By enhancing feminized skills in college, female students choose to conform to the highly gendered labor market, at the same time they position themselves back into family (as valuable daughters, caregivers, and supporters, rather than career women) to construct their identity. Vocational education, however, didn't change the gender structure in the labor market; it reinforced gender segregation.

Here, the based on assumption that higher education leads to liberation can be further discussed. It equates higher vocational education with higher education. However, vocational education in China, including higher vocational education and secondary vocational education, may not necessarily complement higher education; in fact, they can compete. The more university higher education develops, the fiercer the competition vocational college students face in the job market. Furthermore, as shown in the talk, higher education is expected to increase student mobility, whereas higher vocational education limits students to their hometown regions, turning them into local "technical workers." The content of higher vocational education is also embedded in the patriarchal discourse prevalent in rural areas, serving market values. Instead of being liberal, it has the potential to further reinforce class segregation between urban and rural areas.

There's also heterogeneity within vocational education. Secondary Vocational Education emerged simultaneously with compulsory education and has a history of over 70 years. It largely serves as a supplement to the nine-year compulsory education, often considered the "destiny" for rural and working-class families. On the other hand, Higher Vocational Education began to develop after 2000, with an emphasis on it post-2015. Students in Higher Vocational Education have already crossed the 50% high school dropout rate and possess higher levels of educational capital. They represent a privileged minority within vocational education, and this "privilege" is inseparable from their efforts and parental investments. Exploring the heterogeneity of vocational education can better help us understand the identity construction of rural vocational education students, especially their positioning within their family roles.

Written by: HUANG, Jiying

 

Spring 2023

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

 

12 Apr 2023 (Wed) Mini-Conference of Thesis of BSSc & MA in Gender Studies 2023

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Representation of Women in Film Industry: Rising or Falling. By BI Jijun Gin

BI Jijun Gin conducted a study investigating how people perceive female representation in the film industry. The study used a Google questionnaire and found that women are still underrepresented in critical roles within the film industry, far from achieving gender parity. However, the study's findings also suggest optimism for the future of gender equality in the film industry.
 
Gender, Sexuality and Sports: A Comparative Analysis of the Hong Kong Spectatorship of Men and Women's Professional Basketball in 2023. By LEUNG Brandon
The thesis examines the treatment of male and female basketball players in the NBA and WNBA respectively. Based on a gender perspective, the study analyzes how Hong Kong basketball fans perceive basketball development. The research employs a qualitative methodology involving individual interviews with ten participants. The study concludes that WNBA players possess powerful strengths and should be respected, despite the need for more support from the interviewees. Additionally, marketing strategies are essential to increasing awareness of and attention to women's basketball.
 
How do gendered learning outcomes differ in PBL learning in the Netherlands and Hong Kong educational systems? By CHUNG Pui Yung
This thesis compares the gendered learning outcomes of problem-based learning (PBL) in the Netherlands and Hong Kong educational systems. The study aims to identify any significant differences in the learning outcomes of male and female students. It employs a quantitative methodology and compares the academic achievement of male and female students in PBL-based educational programs in both countries. The findings provide important insights into the gendered learning outcomes and have implications for policymakers and educators interested in gender equality in education.
 
How does the "LGBT+" label affect the identity construction process of the "LGBT+"? A Correlation Qualitative Research in Hong Kong. By TING Pak To
A key objective of this study is to examine how labeling affects LGBT+ identity and behavior. It explores the process of generating gender identities, establishes theories about the influence of labels on identity formation, and examines the effects on participants and social environments. A purposeful sampling approach was employed to conduct semi-structured interviews with sexual minorities who were born and raised in Hong Kong. The study found that participants found the LGBT+ label helpful, identified stereotypes both within and outside the LGBT+ community, and had varying views on the impact of labels on their identity construction process.
 
Misogynistic Discourse Analysis in LIHKG: The Reaction of LIHKG Users Towards Non-Consensual Intimate Images. By Li Yeuk Lam
The thesis examines how users of LIHKG maintain a misogynistic culture in discussing non-consensual intimate images (NCII). The study aims to reflect the distress of NCII victim-survivors and to better inform effective legislative and intervention strategies for supporting them. The research uses critical discursive analysis to analyze two incidents of NCII shared on LIHKG, finding that shaming and blaming are frequently utilized to devalue female victim-survivors and that there is a continuum of gender-based, sexualized, and abusive practices, including doxing, online sexual harassment, and highlighting of private information to humiliate victims. However, the study is limited by the deletion of significant discussions and materials by the platform and policy.
 
THE QUEERNESS HIDE-AND-SEEK: Chen Ran and Her Female Writing in the 90 Chinese Literature. By HUANG Minyan

The research explored Chen Ran’s writing and aimed to re-allocate the 90s women writers' work and to reexamine the male-dominant, heteronormative, and Han-centric Chinese literary discourse through a queer reading strategy. The author seeks to capture the gender-transcend consciousness of women writers in the 90s and examine their works through various lenses, such as feminist attention to madwomen and psychoanalytic attention to the Electra Complex. The takeaway message is the importance of using a queer reading strategy to explore Chinese literature's complexities and give queerness names.

Prof. WONG Ivy Wang suggested that students should justify their methodology and explain their analysis in their thesis projects, especially when discussing their sample size and arriving at conclusions. Prof. Ivy also encouraged students to work closely with their supervisors, especially when dealing with sensitive topics or samples to ensure proper data handling and identity protection.

Written by: JIN, Shuyi

 

The Betrayed Wives: Changing Images of Women Characters Involved in Extramarital Affairs on Chinese TV. By SHEN Shiting

This thesis compares the major TV dramas featuring betrayed wives and explores how the representations have changed over the last two decades with the evolving social context and values in China, suggesting that although women’s search for self-actualisation is at the core of all the dramas, the female characters and the portrayals of their growths are confined by their roles as wife, daughter, and mother, with their childcare and housework, emotional and sexual values highlighted in the dramas.
 
Become a Mother or Become a Professional: A Qualitative Study of Unique Dynamics between Motherhood Fulfillment and Career Aspirations among Female Physicians in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. By QIAN Xiaoxuan
With in-depth interviews and participant observation, the thesis explores how the pressure of balancing family and career affects the preferences for career and family choices of female physicians in Shenzhen — how the imbalance of medical resources and the pressure of neoliberal feminism in this flourishing economy construct not only dilemma, but also a sense of achievement for the working mothers, such as the discontent with salary, long working hours and the tensions between their professional identity and roles at their family, intertwining with the satisfaction of achieving an image of contemporary women.
 
Under the Censorship: Slash Fictions in New Era. By YANG Siman
The thesis seeks to understand how women slash fiction writers negotiate with censorship — a fundamental condition of slash fiction's production and consumption on China’s online public platforms — by conducting in-depth interviews. Writers are found to have developed different strategies targeting the instability of the censorship system and the variations of censorship schema on different platforms to negotiate with the permeating censorship in different areas, such as the communication with fandom, and writer’s creation with internalised censorship.
 
Culturally Constructed Femininity in Modern China: An Analysis of the Female Protagonist in Chinese Xianxia Drama Ashes of Love. By LIANG Yufu
The thesis focuses on the representation of femininities in Chinese Xianxia drama (仙俠劇), using the female protagonist of Ashes of Love as an example; it is a textual analysis that highlights the distinctions between Xianxia drama and other genres: female characters in Xianxia drama are more likely to break the traditional and stereotypical gender roles and femininities, reflected as their excellent physical capacity and autonomy in different life choices. The thesis also includes an audience analysis to understand how the distinct representation of femininity is received by the audience and contributes to the construction of femininity discourse.
 
Ideals vs. Realities? A Study on Why Young Chinese Women Want to Learn Programming. By ZHANG Yue
The thesis focuses on how zhuanma (轉碼), an increasingly popular career alternative among highly educated young women in China to turn to programming from other disciplines, is complicated by the gender ideology in workplace, education system, and other social domains. It analyses data from mainstream discussion forums and conducts interviews, pointing out that despite women considering zhuanma as a means to freedom, they are facing the gender stereotypes of women as the major difficulty to be considered qualified and competent in the IT industry.
 
Mainland Migrant Wives’ Use of Social Media RED in Hong Kong. By ZHANG Xunyue
The thesis explores how the multiplicity of mainland migrant wives’ identities as wife, mother, and the unempowered due to their immigration status in Hong Kong, co-construct their media participation, by studying RED accounts run by migrant wives. Their active use of RED does empower them by expanding their social circles, rewarding them with satisfaction and a sense of achievement, and creating new possibilities, yet it also requires considerable time and effort to run the account that is usually considered as a transient rather than a formal job, and deal with online harassments.

Written by: FONG, Yuk Ping

 

22 Mar 2023 (Wed) Empathic Accuracy, Mental Depletion, and Relationship Satisfaction among Heterosexual Romantic Couples

 

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In the Wednesday Gender Seminar on March 22, Tang Xiaolei, an MPhil student from CUHK, shared her ongoing psychological research on empathic accuracy (EA), mental depletion, and relationship satisfaction among heterosexual romantic couples.

First, Tang structured her research meaningfully and innovatively by reviewing literature and defining key concepts. While EA is proven positively associated with relationship satisfaction, people neglect factors that could affect EA performance and the effect of perceived EA within romantic relationships. To fill the gap, Tang focused on how two possible factors, perceived mental depletion and gender, could affect one’s performance on EA and explored how actual and perceived EA would be associated with heterosexual relationship satisfaction.

Next, Tang elaborated on her research design and process thoroughly. Instead of using the classic standard stimuli paradigm of EA studies, she applied daily diary assessment to achieve a higher ecological validity and enable cross-lagged analysis in a short time. Eighty-seven heterosexual couples completed a baseline survey independently about empathy quotient and relationship satisfaction. Then, a two-week daily assessment was conducted on mental depletion level, self and partner’s relationship feelings and mood, and EA performance estimation. During data analysis, the hierarchical linear and actor-partner interdependence models were employed for different research questions. The findings revealed an inverse correlation between mental depletion and EA, and there was no significant difference in EA performance regarding gender. Actual and perceived EA levels both contributed to relationship satisfaction. Additionally, outcomes identified gendered association patterns.

Tang also mentioned several limitations and practical implications of her project. Since the study has a cross-sectional design and intensive daily assessment, the researcher could not infer the relationship between the variables. Future scholars should pay attention to longitudinal design to examine the relationships. Besides, the survey did not differentiate perceived EA in emotional valence to avoid participants guessing purposes behind, or investigate an inclusive age range for staying more homogenous for participants. As for practical benefits, the study may raise awareness among relationship health practitioners and the public of the importance of communication and care for mental depletion.

Written by: DU, Ruini

 

Empathic accuracy refers to the extent to which individuals’ ability to accurately infer others’ thoughts and feelings (Ickes, 2009). Previous findings have shown positive correlations between empathic accuracy and relationship satisfaction (Howland, 2016, Sened et al., 2017). However, individuals’ empathic accuracy may be influenced by various factors, such as their genders (Ickes et al., 2000; Klein & Hedges, 2001) and perceived mental depletion (i.e., subjective perception of mental resources availability; Hiraoka & Nomura, 2016; Meiring et al., 2014). Whether these factors can affect individuals’ empathic accuracy and thus further influence romantic relationship satisfaction remains unclear.

Therefore, the researcher, Xiaolei Tang, conducted a study investigating how perceived mental depletion and gender are related to people’s empathic accuracy in romantic relationships. Specifically, she measured both partners’ actual and perceived empathic accuracy and explored how these different kinds of empathic accuracy relate to their relationship satisfaction. In her study, different from some traditional lab-conducted paradigms, she assessed through daily diaries, which provided high ecological validity.

Eighty-seven heterosexual couples residing in Hong Kong participated in the research, aged 18 to 40 (MAge=29, SDAge=5.18). Among these 174 participants, 97.1% were Chinese, and 97.1% reported being in a committed relationship. Before the daily diary assessment, each participant completed baseline questionnaires assessing their baseline empathy quotient, relationship satisfaction, and demographics independently. Then each of them completed a 14-day daily diary assessment that measured their daily mental depletion, their own and partner’s relationship feelings, their own and partner’s moods, and their empathic accuracy estimations. The daily assessment ended when both partners completed the questionnaires in the same 11 days.

Data were analyzed through Hierarchical Linear Modeling and Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. The results showed that mental depletion level was negatively associated with empathic accuracy in romantic couples, people with a higher level of perceived mental depletion performed lower empathic accuracy. Generally speaking, there was no gender difference in males’ and females’ performance on empathic accuracy. Women’s relationship satisfaction was related to their own and partners’ EA in relationship feelings and their own EA in mood, and men’s relationship satisfaction was related to their partners’ EA in relationship feelings and their own EA in mood. The limitations and implications of the study were also discussed.

Written by: HE, Chuting

 

15 Mar 2023 (Wed) Sajiao Gong: Intimacy Fantasy and Resignification of Femininity in Danmei Fiction

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At the Wednesday Seminar on March 15, Ms. Zheng Lin, an M.Phil. student from the CUHK Gender Studies Programme, presented her research on the intimacy fantasy and resignification of femininity in Danmei Fiction by giving a genre study on a trendy persona type, "Sajiao Gong" in the Danmei's database writing within the Chinese context.

Ms. Zheng traced back the Western/Japanese origin of Slash/ Yaoi to the localization of Danmei/BL fiction and its current commercial transformation in China, highlighting its role in carrying heterosexual female prosumers' pursuit of idealized intimate relationships by applying queer and transgressive plots to male characters. By addressing the issue within a model of "personality (人設)" and "couples (CP)", she noticed the recent popularity of the dominant male characters' femininity, known as Sajiao Gong (撒嬌攻).

The word "Sajiao" (acting in a cutesy manner to gain affection) in the modern Chinese context carries the paradoxical and misogynic interplay of "virtue" and "stigma" all at once. However, by reading the Danmei fiction, Ms. Zheng indicated that a positive possibility provided by the dominant persona, "Gong (攻方)", might untie the passive implication of "Sajiao" as they proactively perform femininity and softness to intentionally promote the romantic same-sex relationship and dissolve the anxiety about the femininity of passive persona "Shou (受方)".

With the rise of neoliberal and feminist consciousness in modern intimacies, Ms. Zheng posed that Danmei fiction provides an experimental field for heterosexual women-dominant imaginaries and pursuits of intimacy, constantly responding to their realistic anxieties as known as what Dai Jinhua called "the dilemma of Mulan" of Chinese women maintaining subjectivity and independence only through performing the extreme masculinity.

Echoing former studies' interpretation of "soft masculinity", Ms. Zheng used "Sajiao Gong" to illustrate that women's preference for male femininity in the production and consumption of Danmei fiction could be related to their real-life reflection on female identity, and gender temperament. This study provides a feminist perspective different from a male-dominant one through the re-imagination of intimacy and the resignification of femininity.

Written by: HUANG, Minyan

 

15 Feb 2023 (Wed) Penalty, Bonus, or Needs: Family Care Responsibilities and Work in Three Labor Regimes of Chinese Societies

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This mixed method research conducted by Prof Dai and her team investigates and compares the employers’ perspectives via female and male employees with various family responsibilities in three different labor market regimes (Hong Kong’s labor market, Shen Zhen’s private sector, and Shen Zhen’s public sector). While multiple researchers have argued that caregivers are uncompetitive in market meritocracy, this research has shed light on how the situation actually differs in three cultural environments and market regimes. In addition, this research has put on a gendered lens on caregivers’ struggles in the labor market, particularly female employees who suffered from the traditional norms.

Firstly, it is found that employers in Hong Kong hold quite a few particular cultural stereotypes when evaluating family caregivers. Family virtuocracy is considered a significant advantage for both males and females. Despite this caregiver bonus, mothers will suffer from motherhood penalty when it comes to childcare as opposed to elder care. It’s evident that the labor market structure is still in compliance with gender norms. Secondly, the data from Shenzhen’s private sector has proved the dominance of market meritocracy. Under this circumstance, the fatherhood penalty is also prevailing, and filial piety is not recognized as a bonus in the private sector. Employers consider work-family negotiation and balance an extremely private problem that employees have to address by themselves. Finally, Shenzhen’s public sector, where market meritocracy power has been lashed, shows respect for employees’ needs. This specific pattern with Chinese characteristics, however, creates a new dimension of inequality, such as outsourcing without guarantee, invisible discrimination against single women, and inward exploitation for the good of the community.

In conclusion, the three various patterns demonstrate that the factors and norms influencing employers to evaluate family caregivers are multifaceted in addition to meritocracy. It is also noticeable that gender norms existed in all three different labor market regimes. Although there are now only preliminary data analyses and conclusions at this stage, it is expected to see further research development as well as core findings in the final article.

Written by: ZHANG Xunyue

 

18 Jan 2023 (Wed) Tokophobia as Feminist Resistance? Female Netizens’ Reproductive Experiences and Discourses in China’s Cyberspace

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Gender inequality related to reproduction is a global issue, and the personal and family spheres, as objects of power control, make individual choices often the result of internalized power structures and gender norms. With the rising number of well-educated women with university degrees and high female labor participation, the fertility rate continues to drop in China. Concerned about the demographic change and the population crisis, the Chinese state turned to pro-natalist policy since 2021, despite the lack of supportive maternity and child-care policies.

This study focuses on young women’s reproductive dilemma posed by patchy patriarchy’s essentialist discourses and their individual desires. It further demonstrates the characteristics of the public cyberspace where women gain knowledge, exchange information and express their opinions about their reproductive experiences. This study also explores the role cyberspace play in shaping gender discourses in contemporary China. Conducted on Douban, a popular forum among Chinese urban young women, the study collected 3153 posts under the topic ‘What does reproduction mean to women?’ and analyzed the most “liked” 100 posts with thematic coding.

The findings suggest that discussions on Douban are predominantly focused on negative experiences of new motherhood. Women are physically and emotionally dehumanized in the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Due to the patriarchal family value and the essentialist gender discourse, motherhood is naturalized and romanticized, which has led to the ‘widow-style childrearing’ and the sacrifice of female individuality and professional career. As a result, in the absence of public support, women have to rely on private sources to address emotional issues and access female-centered reproductive knowledge. The phenomenon of tokophobia presented in online discussions is a resistance to naturalized motherhood. The discussion of childbirth in cyberspace has brought the invisible labor undertaken by women into the public sphere, which is feminist in nature.

Written by: ZHANG, Mengya

 

1月18日,Xie Kailing 博士和 Zhou Yunyun 博士在線上性別研討會上講演了兩人正在合作進行的研究——「恐育作為女權抵抗?中國網絡空間中女性網民的生殖經驗和話語」。兩位研究者首先勾勒了研究所處的中國語境,中國獨生子女政策使得女性獲得高等教育的機會大大上升,雖然在全球範圍內,婦女的教育程度與生育率呈負相關,但在中國,異性戀婚姻中女性養育子女仍舊是一種具有道德強制力的社會規範。兩位研究者借用 Evans 所提出的「支離破碎的父權」(patchy patriarchy)這一概念,認為將女性生育職責「自然化」、「本質化」的話語仍舊具有某種權威性,成為國家推行政策時的話術,並在公共文化生活中,例如在售賣母嬰用品的廣告中被不斷地生產和傳播。隨著出生率下降帶來的老齡化危機的初現,自2021年起中國政府轉而採取支持生育的政策,女性面臨著愈受嚴峻的生育壓力。而市場經濟驅動形成的以慾望為核心的現代式的對「自我」的追求,以及中國近年來在年輕女性群體中愈受浩大的女性主義聲浪則進一步成為引發女性在網絡空間中關於生育激烈探討的契機。為了探察受過良好教育的年輕女性對這一生育困境的回應,以及網絡空間在這種生育困境討論中的作用,兩位研究者對熱度極高的豆瓣主題帖「生育對一位女性意味著什麼」進行了的話語分析。在以主題式編碼為主的初步話語分析中,研究者們發現大多數的話語都圍繞著生育的消極體驗及其作為一種「被掩蓋的黑暗秘密」展開,並進一步展示了話語群中三個顯著的主題:生孩子作為一種肉體和情感上的雙重創傷;「喪偶式育兒」剝奪了女性的個體性;缺少女性中心的知識生產和對父權制結構的反思。在講演的最後,研究者們進一步指出了這一現象的複雜性:回帖中沒有出現明顯的反對生育的聲音,而是更多地集中在經驗分享,給予建議和女性的不同的生育選擇上,儘管帖子的發表者們並沒有明確自我表明女權主義立場的傾向,但她們關注和討論著與女權主義緊密相關的議題。研究者們認為,網絡空間提供了一種另類的公共空間,使得在社會空間中被迫靜默的女性經驗相互溝通,女性話語得以建構。

 

Written by: ZHENG, Lin

 

Fall 2022

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

 

16 Nov 2022 (Wed) The interplay between intimacy and commodification: Exploring family and work lives of lesbians in China

 

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Prof Lo’s presentation examines the ways in which lesbians explore opportunities and navigate constraints in their family and work lives in urban China. Research reveals that the interconnection between the economic and intimate life of lesbians in modern cities is commodified. They not feel empowerment through navigate lives in work and pink market as resourceful consumers, but also intersecting with sociopolitical and neoliberal power with their everyday practices on a larger background.

Although the respectable queer citizens could make relatively free expression of their sexual identity through the consumption of commodities and capital, opportunities to subvert traditional gender expectations carry a high price tag, which could be unaffordable for many economically disadvantaged lesbians. The hidden danger here is that commercial logic may cover personal voice. That is it transforms feminism from a political movement to a non-politicized product and personal attitude. And the paper also point out that lesbians also face the hinders in the labour market. Except from fashion field, in which sexual minorities have their own traffic(自带流量). In most workplaces, lesbians are cautious about disclosing their sexual orientation because of the fear of discrimination and prejudice. It inspire us to think how gender norms, heteronormativity, and policy intersect in generating obstacles for Chinese lesbians to thrive as respectable adult workers. This has important implications for further attempts to help adult worker to fit better with people's diverse work /family needs.

Despite from everyday practices and interactions,there’s also need to observe the penetration of digital media into daily life. And it is easy to find that in many mon-homosexual-oriented social media software in China, lesbians have less visibility compared with gays, which is similar to the second point of the article's research gap.

Written by: XU Yinuo

 

On November 16, the topic of professor LO’s speech was the interplay between intimacy and commodification by exploring the family and work lives of lesbians in China.

She began her speech with the research objectives and the research question, which were how do Chinese lesbians navigate their economic and intimate lives in a context where same-sex relationships are yet to be socially or legally recognized, and how do gender and sexuality intersect with the wider socio-political and neoliberal climate in shaping Chinese lesbians’ economic and intimate lives. The main research gaps were underground queer scenes in more restrictive contexts, everyday practices in commodification and sexuality, and Chinese lesbians.
After introducing the challenges and opportunities of the queer community, the rise of queer desires, and the pink market, she told us her research method is an in-depth interview about well-educated lesbians in Beijing. There were three findings. Firstly, participants' intimate lives are 'commodified', because their choices about intimacy and same-sex marriage are related to the workplace and pink market. Secondly, the ways they use to avoid gendered and sexual obstacles in the labor market by hiding or fictitious their sexual orientation, gender expression, and marital status are 'commodified’. Thirdly, most participants’ strategies to accommodate and/or resist established norms are finding their own comfort zone.

In conclusion, this research showed how commodification and intimacy interact with each other, and the dilemma of Chinese lesbians that they must get a decent job to have the life they want, but due to the gendered and sexual obstacles, they cannot openly lead the life they want.

Written by: ZHANG Yue

 

At the talk on 16 November 2022, Prof. LO Iris shared her project, "the Interplay between Intimacy and Commodification: Exploring Family and Work Lives of Lesbians in China." Based on the in-depth interviews with lesbians living in Beijing, she delved into the economic and intimate lives of lesbians in the Chinese urban landscape and weaved it with the political and neoliberal atmosphere in China.
She proposed that 1978 is the watershed compared with previously stigmatized, although not illegal, queer living circumstances, allowing the new exploration of queer subjectivities. Queer people were shaped by middle-class cosmopolitan values that encouraged them to pursue their material and emotional desire without transgressing social norms or challenging the limitation that the government set. During the interview, Prof. LO found that urban lesbians were eager to enter the labour market to gain enough money to become respectful citizens, capable workers, and resourceful consumers. And they expected this would bring them more freedom and subjectivity to their sexual orientation.

However, Prof. LO also found that the queer agency that the market brought was always intertwined with vulnerability. The strategies that lesbians adopted to sustain decent jobs providing the economic foundation for the life they wanted may also reinforce the gender and sexual orientation hierarchy. For instance, lesbians must be cautious about disclosing their sexual orientation in the workplace. They would try to hide their sexual orientation and pretend to be heterosexual. They would constantly come across the question of why they still stay single and even need to lie to their colleagues that they have got married to a heterosexual man or try to perform a traditional social script of femininity. Also, although they were determined to commodify their labour power, there was no guarantee they could earn as much money as expected since the gender wage gap still exists.
In the open discussion, several valuable and debatable points were highlighted. For instance, does the commodification in the research refers to labour or intimacy? Is the theoretical framework expandable to other Chinese intimacy phenomena, like dating shows? Is the concept of intimacy proper to explain the performance of gender norms and the interest in personal life in the workplace? Is earning enough money truly free lesbians from parents' expectations of heteronormative life?

Written by: ZHENG Lin

 

 

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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Gender inequality related to reproduction is a global issue, and the personal and family spheres, as objects of power control, make individual choices often the result of internalized power structures and gender norms. With the rising number of well-educated women with university degrees and high female labor participation, the fertility rate continues to drop in China. Concerned about the demographic change and the population crisis, the Chinese state turned to pro-natalist policy since 2021, despite the lack of supportive maternity and child-care policies.

This study focuses on young women’s reproductive dilemma posed by patchy patriarchy’s essentialist discourses and their individual desires. It further demonstrates the characteristics of the public cyberspace where women gain knowledge, exchange information and express their opinions about their reproductive experiences. This study also explores the role cyberspace play in shaping gender discourses in contemporary China. Conducted on Douban, a popular forum among Chinese urban young women, the study collected 3153 posts under the topic ‘What does reproduction mean to women?’ and analyzed the most “liked” 100 posts with thematic coding.

The findings suggest that discussions on Douban are predominantly focused on negative experiences of new motherhood. Women are physically and emotionally dehumanized in the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Due to the patriarchal family value and the essentialist gender discourse, motherhood is naturalized and romanticized, which has led to the ‘widow-style childrearing’ and the sacrifice of female individuality and professional career. As a result, in the absence of public support, women have to rely on private sources to address emotional issues and access female-centered reproductive knowledge. The phenomenon of tokophobia presented in online discussions is a resistance to naturalized motherhood. The discussion of childbirth in cyberspace has brought the invisible labor undertaken by women into the public sphere, which is feminist in nature.

Written by: ZHANG, Mengya

 

 

1月18日,Xie Kailing博士和Zhou Yunyun博士在线上性别研讨会上讲演了两人正在合作进行的研究——“恐育作为女权抵抗?中国网络空间中女性网民的生殖经验和话语”。两位研究者首先勾勒了研究所处的中国语境,中国独生子女政策使得女性获得高等教育的机会大大上升,虽然在全球范围内,妇女的教育程度与生育率呈负相关,但在中国,异性恋婚姻中女性养育子女仍旧是一种具有道德强制力的社会规范。两位研究者借用Evans所提出的“支离破碎的父权”(patchy patriarchy)这一概念,认为将女性生育职责“自然化”、“本质化”的话语仍旧具有某种权威性,成为国家推行政策时的话术,并在公共文化生活中,例如在售卖母婴用品的广告中被不断地生产和传播。随着出生率下降带来的老龄化危机的初现,自2021年起中国政府转而采取支持生育的政策,女性面临着愈发严峻的生育压力。而市场经济驱动形成的以欲望为核心的现代式的对“自我”的追求,以及中国近年来在年轻女性群体中愈发浩大的女性主义声浪则进一步成为引发女性在网络空间中关于生育激烈探讨的契机。为了探寻受过良好教育的年轻女性对这一生育困境的回应,以及网络空间在这种生育困境讨论中的作用,两位研究者对热度极高的豆瓣主题帖“生育对一位女性意味着什么”进行了的话语分析。在以主题式编码为主的初步话语分析中,研究者们发现大多数的话语都围绕着生育的消极体验及其作为一种“被掩盖的黑暗秘密”展开,并进一步展示了话语群中三个显著的主题:生孩子作为一种肉体和情感上的双重创伤;“丧偶式育儿”剥夺了女性的个体性;缺少女性中心的知识生产和对父权制结构的反思。在讲演的最后,研究者们进一步指出了这一现象的复杂性:回帖中没有出现明显的反对生育的声音,而是更多地集中在经验分享,给予建议和女性的不同的生育选择上,尽管帖子的发表者们并没有明缺自我表明女权主义立场的倾向,但她们关注和讨论着与女权主义紧密相关的议题。研究者们认为,网络空间提供了一种另类的公共空间,使得在社会空间中被迫静默的女性经验相互沟通,女性话语得以建构。

 

Written by: ZHENG, Lin

 

Spring 2022

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

 

16 Nov 2022 (Wed) The interplay between intimacy and commodification: Exploring family and work lives of lesbians in China

 

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Prof Lo’s presentation examines the ways in which lesbians explore opportunities and navigate constraints in their family and work lives in urban China. Research reveals that the interconnection between the economic and intimate life of lesbians in modern cities is commodified. They not feel empowerment through navigate lives in work and pink market as resourceful consumers, but also intersecting with sociopolitical and neoliberal power with their everyday practices on a larger background.

Although the respectable queer citizens could make relatively free expression of their sexual identity through the consumption of commodities and capital, opportunities to subvert traditional gender expectations carry a high price tag, which could be unaffordable for many economically disadvantaged lesbians. The hidden danger here is that commercial logic may cover personal voice. That is it transforms feminism from a political movement to a non-politicized product and personal attitude. And the paper also point out that lesbians also face the hinders in the labour market. Except from fashion field, in which sexual minorities have their own traffic(自带流量). In most workplaces, lesbians are cautious about disclosing their sexual orientation because of the fear of discrimination and prejudice. It inspire us to think how gender norms, heteronormativity, and policy intersect in generating obstacles for Chinese lesbians to thrive as respectable adult workers. This has important implications for further attempts to help adult worker to fit better with people's diverse work /family needs.

Despite from everyday practices and interactions,there’s also need to observe the penetration of digital media into daily life. And it is easy to find that in many mon-homosexual-oriented social media software in China, lesbians have less visibility compared with gays, which is similar to the second point of the article's research gap.

Written by: XU Yinuo

 

On November 16, the topic of professor LO’s speech was the interplay between intimacy and commodification by exploring the family and work lives of lesbians in China.

She began her speech with the research objectives and the research question, which were how do Chinese lesbians navigate their economic and intimate lives in a context where same-sex relationships are yet to be socially or legally recognized, and how do gender and sexuality intersect with the wider socio-political and neoliberal climate in shaping Chinese lesbians’ economic and intimate lives. The main research gaps were underground queer scenes in more restrictive contexts, everyday practices in commodification and sexuality, and Chinese lesbians.
After introducing the challenges and opportunities of the queer community, the rise of queer desires, and the pink market, she told us her research method is an in-depth interview about well-educated lesbians in Beijing. There were three findings. Firstly, participants' intimate lives are 'commodified', because their choices about intimacy and same-sex marriage are related to the workplace and pink market. Secondly, the ways they use to avoid gendered and sexual obstacles in the labor market by hiding or fictitious their sexual orientation, gender expression, and marital status are 'commodified’. Thirdly, most participants’ strategies to accommodate and/or resist established norms are finding their own comfort zone.

In conclusion, this research showed how commodification and intimacy interact with each other, and the dilemma of Chinese lesbians that they must get a decent job to have the life they want, but due to the gendered and sexual obstacles, they cannot openly lead the life they want.

Written by: ZHANG Yue

 

At the talk on 16 November 2022, Prof. LO Iris shared her project, "the Interplay between Intimacy and Commodification: Exploring Family and Work Lives of Lesbians in China." Based on the in-depth interviews with lesbians living in Beijing, she delved into the economic and intimate lives of lesbians in the Chinese urban landscape and weaved it with the political and neoliberal atmosphere in China.
She proposed that 1978 is the watershed compared with previously stigmatized, although not illegal, queer living circumstances, allowing the new exploration of queer subjectivities. Queer people were shaped by middle-class cosmopolitan values that encouraged them to pursue their material and emotional desire without transgressing social norms or challenging the limitation that the government set. During the interview, Prof. LO found that urban lesbians were eager to enter the labour market to gain enough money to become respectful citizens, capable workers, and resourceful consumers. And they expected this would bring them more freedom and subjectivity to their sexual orientation.

However, Prof. LO also found that the queer agency that the market brought was always intertwined with vulnerability. The strategies that lesbians adopted to sustain decent jobs providing the economic foundation for the life they wanted may also reinforce the gender and sexual orientation hierarchy. For instance, lesbians must be cautious about disclosing their sexual orientation in the workplace. They would try to hide their sexual orientation and pretend to be heterosexual. They would constantly come across the question of why they still stay single and even need to lie to their colleagues that they have got married to a heterosexual man or try to perform a traditional social script of femininity. Also, although they were determined to commodify their labour power, there was no guarantee they could earn as much money as expected since the gender wage gap still exists.
In the open discussion, several valuable and debatable points were highlighted. For instance, does the commodification in the research refers to labour or intimacy? Is the theoretical framework expandable to other Chinese intimacy phenomena, like dating shows? Is the concept of intimacy proper to explain the performance of gender norms and the interest in personal life in the workplace? Is earning enough money truly free lesbians from parents' expectations of heteronormative life?

Written by: ZHENG Lin

 

 

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

在2月15日的週三研討會上,來自香港中文大學社會工作系的戴海靜教授分享了名為“獎懲或需求:中國三種勞動制度中的家庭照料責任與求職”的研究。戴海靜教授採用定性與定量混合方法,對香港、深圳國有單位、深圳私營企業三地人力資源從業者進行問卷調查與訪談,以探討雇主如何評價及對待承擔不同家庭照顧責任的男性與女性求職者。研究發現,強調能力、競爭力與效率的新自由主義市場機制,注重家庭責任的中國傳統道德體系,父權制框架下的性別規範與性別分工,以及勞動者權益保障政策與家庭福利政策的結構性資源與約束,四種機制共同作用,導致家庭照料責任對就業與職業發展產生性別化影響,並在三種不同勞動制度下有所區別--就香港這一自由經濟體而言,男性會因承擔家庭照料責任而獲益,而與之相反的是女性求職者所面臨的母職懲罰;對於經歷疫情後經濟衰退的深圳私營企業,出於對效率的強調,承擔家庭照料責任對男性和女性求職者都將面臨更多質疑;而獎懲之說似乎並不適用於強調集體效能的深圳國有單位。
Written by: GU, Yuxuan
如何兼顧工作與照顧兒童、長者等家庭成員,向來是個讓人頭疼的問題。本港街頭及媒體不乏照顧者的廣告,有的來自非政府組織,有的則是政府宣傳,無一例外均是呼籲公眾多關心和支援家庭照顧者。
香港近年接連有照顧者懷疑不堪壓力,釀成倫常慘案。有鑑於此,當局由本年度起,展開為期三年的宣傳活動,舉辦照顧者為本的計劃和公眾教育項目。大中華地區乃至全亞洲的家庭照顧者危機,可見一斑。
本次分享的戴海靜教授指出,箇中原因或許與人口老齡化、勞動力短缺、少子化、女性覺醒有關。而新冠疫情下,幼稚園等暫托機構遭勒令關閉,照顧的責任再次落到家人(尤其是女性)的身上,照顧者危機進一步惡化,亟需更多關注。
以往一般認為,母親的身份在職場構成劣勢甚至懲罰,具體表現為薪酬的性別不平等。市場認為照顧者缺乏競爭力,對女性照顧者的歧視尤為明顯,而目前的研究較少從僱主的角度開展,戴教授認為這是學術方面缺失的一環,因此決定由此出發,採用基於履歷表的調查,配以訪問等方法,研究三個不同的市場領域,即香港以及深圳的公私營界別。
本港有較完善的福利制度,奉行不干預的新自由主義,而且1997年主權移交後出現了儒家思想復興,更重視家庭。分析數據後,戴教授發現本港職場不論公私界別,都認為照顧家庭是美德,也是可靠的象徵。然而,僱主仍然不偏好母親,因而她們在零售業等初級職位較受歡迎。在評判男性工作能力時,僱主多以專業為標準,而對女性則會同時考慮工作專業以及照顧職責。相比兒童照顧者,僱主更願意聘請長者照顧者,他們不覺得這是歧視,因為他們認為當母親是個人選擇,照顧長者則不是。香港僱主普遍不歡迎延長產假和帶薪家庭假,認為家中長者及兒童等應該由老人院舍等機構照顧。
據我個人了解,近年不少港人外移,本港多個行業確實正面對人力短缺問題,當局曾表示釋放女性勞動力是可行方向,有社企更專門協助「全職媽媽」,以彈性工作模式重返職場。
而在深圳,私人企業普遍追求利潤,往往忽視保護勞動權益。僱主認為照顧者對工作並不用心,不歡迎兒童、長者的照顧者,不論性別,都充滿敵意,不過大公司會較寬容。深圳私企認為員工應該自己找人照顧家人,例如祖父母,也認為照顧責任是家事,基於公私分明的原則,不應在職場提起。他們認為市場應該不受管制,更明言從不理會勞工法例,否則沒有公司能營運下去。在僱主眼中,二孩、三孩政策破壞勞動市場,認為給照顧者提供現金資助是政府的責任,而不是企業本身。
相比之下,深圳的政府和事業單位等公營市場,情況則更有意思。鐵飯碗不怕丟,不過薪酬較低。僱主對於員工的評核,並非以個人為單位,而是看整個團隊,重視團隊精神及意識,強調和諧、互惠、合作,而非競爭,也恪守勞工法例,尊重員工的各種需要,包括照顧家庭的責任。僱主不歡迎45歲以上沒有家庭照顧責任的人選,有的尤其不喜歡30歲左右沒有孩子的女性。政府及事業單位認為,女性員工若希望懷孕,應該有計劃、按部就班,否則產假期間無人可以頂替工作,大失預算,因此他們不喜歡員工沒有提前通知便突然懷孕。總之,他們認為員工應該知道,要鐵飯碗,便要有很多的權衡取捨,譬如低薪、生孩子要「排隊」。
戴教授認為,日後的研究應更關注勞工制度、僱主的想法、社會福利制度。家庭究竟是公共抑或是私人領域?我們的社會需要的是更好的父母或是更好的僱主、體制?照顧責任應是一體的、協調的,僱主也應當參與其中,讓兩種「生產」(創造production與生育reproduction)不再對立。
Written bu: CHEN, Shujun