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GED2003 Gender Matters: Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Society: Home

Course Description

This is an introductory course on gender perspectives and feminist studies. There are four parts of the course. First, the course starts by introducing the distinction between sex and gender and stating why gender matters. By using life-stage analysis, representations from pop culture, and the lived experiences of Chinese people in the eras of Revolution and Reform, this course enables students to intellectually understand that gender roles- femininity and masculinity- are actually in the process of being constructed based on a certain social institutions underpinned by hierarchical power relations. Field observations will be conducted to foster students' sensitivity and capacity to use gender perspectives in examining their everyday lives. Second, the course then turns to issues of sexuality. The sociality of sexuality in various cultures and historical times will be discussed. LGBTQ groups’ situation and voices are to be presented followed by an examination of the arguments that heterosexuality is a socially made hegemony and sexuality is fluid. Part Three introduces students to the three topics related to “Feminism”, namely, transnational and local movements, theories of women’s and other minorities' liberation, as well as Feminism as research methodology and epistemology. In the final phase we will discuss two lived gender/sexuality related cases related to the intersection with other structural forces such as national development, class formation, modernity, personal liberation, and etc.

Recommended Books



Global Cinderellas: Migrant Domestics and Newly Rich Employers in Taiwan

This book is based on fieldwork on interviewing Taiwan employers and housework employees. In addition to analyzing the interaction between employers and employees, it touches on the transformation of Taiwan's ethnic politics, class structure and gender relations. This book not only explores the upward class mobility of the mistresses’ family and the maids brought about by the phenomenon of housework employees, but also points out the racial and class inequality caused by such phenomenon. It describes how housework employees are constructed as the “other” from the perspectives of state control and public voice. The book also describes the situation and status of maids and mistresses in their family life.



Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History

This book challenges the usual emphasis on sexual dimorphism and reproduction, providing a unique perspective on the various forms of socialization of people who are neither male nor female. Bringing together historical and anthropological studies, this book collects 10 essays that are dedicated to the observation on the third sex, covering how Byzantine palace eunuchs and Indian hijras met the criteria of special social roles that necessitated practices such as self-castration, and how intimate and forbidden desires were expressed among the Dutch Sodomites in the early modern period, the Sapphists of eighteenth-century England or the so-called hermaphrodite-homosexuals of nineteenth-century Europe and America, etc.

The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies

This book concerns the meaning and significance of the transformation of intimacy on the societal level. The transformation is realized from the highly constrained conjugal relationships of a traditional society, through the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century romantic love, to confluent love or pure relationship in modern society. According to Giddens, the separation of sexuality from reproduction is crucial to the emancipation in the pure relationship. Giddens argues that the transformation of intimacy may have extended its influence on the democratization of personal life to the revolution of social life, and such transformation from hierarchical and patriarchal relations to more egalitarian and intimate relations is to a large extent the consequence of feminism as a social movement. 

Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture

This book examines the desiring subjectivity that have developed along with postsocialist transformations, some of which are connected to neoliberalism. Each of the 6 chapters in this book deals with a site where readers can observe the desiring subjectivity in the public culture in China, including a soap opera Yearnings broadcast in the 1990s, a museum established by a Chinese feminist Li Xiaojiang, the gay identities and practices in the transnational space and networks of Beijing, cosmopolitanism among young heterosexual women in China, several court cases in China that have established legal guidelines for proper sexual behavior, consumer rights, etc., and China’s decision to join the World Trade Organization.

The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory

This is an anthology of translated texts that represent the theory of Early Chinese Feminists. This book mainly examines three important figures, the female feminist He-Yin Zhen-the founding editor of an anarcho-feminist journal Natural Justice, and her male contemporaries Liang Qichao-a prominent Chinese scholar, journalist, philosopher, and reformist, as well as Jin Tianhe-a liberal educator and political activist. Biographies of the three figures are provided at the beginning of each section, and texts selected include six essays by He-Yin Zhen, “On Women’s Education” by Liang Qichao, and “The Women’s Bell” by Jin Tianhe.

Spaces of Their Own: Women's Public Sphere in Transnational China

This book features the work of 12 scholars in anthropology, film and literary studies. This book examines the positioning of women in domestic or public space in Chinese mass media and public discourse, as well as the representational spaces of women who struggles to broadening their spaces in the male-dominant world at the turn from the twentieth century to the twenty-first. The Transnational China comprises mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Chinese communities abroad. Sites of public sphere that are examined include women’s museum, women’s hotline, women’s sports, televisual fantasy, filmmaker’s work, feminist magazine, women’s bookstore, and women’s writing, public meetings and conferences, women’s movement and lesbian activism, etc.





Dangerous Pleasures: Prostitution and Modernity in Twentieth-Century Shanghai

This book examines prostitution in Shanghai from the late nineteenth century to the present. Part One introduces the creation of a hierarchy of prostitution in Shanghai. Part Two examines the lives of courtesans as they were recounted by men primarily concerned with exhibiting their own urbanity. Part Three turns to writings in which prostitutes were portrayed as both victims and embodiments of social dangers. Part Four examines attempts by twentieth-century reformers and regulators to link prostitution to an ebbing of national strength and their efforts to ameliorate its effects. Part Five turns to the furious public debate engendered by the reappearance of prostitution in China in the 1980s and 1990s.





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