Lecture Topics for Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan

Emerging Challenges to Feminist Gender/Sexuality Theories and Politics in East Asia: 2003 Lecture Series

Josephine Ho, Professor and Coordinator
Center for the Study of Sexualities, National Central University, Taiwan

Seminar Poster  

Institute for Gender Studies (IGS), Ochanomizu University 

Lecture 1 (May 28)Pornography and Female Sexual Agency

As important as erotic/pornographic productions have become for the development of sexual selves of today's youths, there is a persistent antagonism against sexually insinuating or sexually explicit materials "in the name of" the youths themselves in most countries and regions. This lecture will address how anti-pornography discourses drew upon gender and generation assumptions, and then point out how a new female sexual agency, most visible among the young women of East Asia, is now progressively complicating the gender/sexuality system that the anti-pornography stance relies upon.

Basic Reading: 

Vance, Carole S., ed. Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality. London: Pandora, 1989, 1992. 1-27.

Further Reading:

Rubin, Gayle. "Misguided, Dangerous and Wrong: an Analysis of Anti-Pornography Politics." Bad Girls and Dirty Pictures: The Challenge to Reclaim Feminism. Eds. By Alison Assiter & Avedon Carol. Boulder, Colorado: Pluto Press, 1993. 18-40.

Lecture 2 (June 4)Self-Empowerment and Professional Performativity in Sex Work (Or, Why Feminists Are Unable to Read Sex Workers)

When Taipei's 128 middle-aged, near illiterate sex workers took to the streets in September of 1997 to protest the city's policy to revoke their long-held licenses, their presence and uninhibited shouts of protest in public space not only ripped open the silence and stigma that had kept them ostracized in dark alleys and back streets, but also uplifted the morale of sex workers all over Taiwan who continue to put up fierce resistance against the anti-obscenity campaigns launched by the government and its desire to reach respectable nation-state status. Such an atmosphere of contestation and mobilization has also made it possible for previously hidden-from-view sex workers to tell of the self-empowering practices that they have developed out of their professional work, which most feminists continue to misread. This lecture will present some obvious examples of this misreading. 

Basic Reading:

Ho, Josephine. " Self-Empowerment and 'Professionalism': Conversations with Taiwanese Sex Workers." InterAsia Journal of Cultural Studies 2 (Aug. 2000): 283-299.

Further Reading:

Chapkis, Wendy. Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor. New York: Routledge, 1997. 69-82.

Lecture 3 (June 18)From Spice Girls to Enjo Kosai: Formations of Teenage Girls' Sexualities in Taiwan

Girls who dared to demonstrate some degree of sexual adventurism or sexual self-determination usually end up being labeled as problem girls treading on dangerous grounds who are doomed for tragedy. Yet in the past decade a wide range of teenage sexual expressions and activities in Taiwan have become commonplace. In fact, such demonstrations of teenage girls' sexualities have become so clearly in sight and so blatantly "in your face" that adult concerns are raging in an effort to rein in such energies. This lecture will trace some of the most obvious formations of teenage girls' sexualities in present-day Taiwan which may help illuminate the changing meaning and significance of sex(work) for the next generation of girls.

Basic Reading:

Ehrenreich, Barbara, Elizabeth Hess, & Gloria Jacobs. Re-Making Love: the Feminization of Sex. New York: Doubleday, 1986. 10-38.

Further Reading:

Rubin, Gayle. "Thinking sex: notes for a radical theory of the politics of sexuality." Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality, 2nd ed. Ed. by Carol S. Vance. London: Pandora Press, 1984, 1989, 1992. 267-319.

Lecture 4 (June 27)From Anti-Trafficking to Social Discipline

Prostitution has not always dominated public discourse or attention; yet at certain critical moments, prostitution may be taken as "a metaphor, a medium of articulation" in which various emerging forces and social anxieties play out their displaced existence. In the recent complex history of Taiwan, the "problem" of prostitution came to be framed in the discourse of anti-trafficking at one of such moments. Yet as the anti-trafficking movement gradually loses its relevance in a fast changing social reality, it is transforming itself into an intricate web of social discipline that partakes in what Tani E. Barlow has described as "a vision of global governance," that would hopefully contribute to Taiwan's nation-state building project. This lecture will attempt to trace such a process of transformation and the changing role of mainstream "women's" movement in Taiwan.

Basic Reading:

Barlow, Tani E. "Asia, Gender and Scholarship Under Processes of Re-regionalization." Journal of Gender Studies, Institute of Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan 5: 1-14.

Further Reading:

Bland, Lucy. Banishing the Beast: Sexuality and the Early Feminists. New York: The New Press, 1995. 95-123.

Lecture 5 (July 4)Identity and Em[bodi]ment: Constructing the Transgender

Transgendered subjects of Taiwan have worked to construct, out of limited social resources and cultural space, their own bodies and images in order to manage their sexual bodies and gender identities. The specificity of transgender existence in the Taiwanese context as well as the dynamic strategies that these subjects have devised to maneuver their social existence is only beginning to be studied. This lecture will discuss how differences in sex, age, socio-economic status, appearance, physique, etc. affect the persuasiveness of the embodiment of their identities, and how the subjectivities thus developed in this process of self-construction continue to refract the meaning and presentation of gender embodiment in addition to casting new variables in our culture of gender dimorphism.

Basic Reading:

Prosser, Jay (1998). Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality. New York: Columbia UP. 1-17.

Further Reading:

Califia, Pat (1997). Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism. San Francisco: Cleis P. 86-119.

Lecture at Kyoto Seika University, July 11, 2003 「Doing Ethnographical Research on Stigmatized Gender/Sexuality Subjects」