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Panel 1: Sexually Explicit Imagery & Gender Politics in the Hong Kong Media Sphere

17 May 2016 4:00-5:30pm

Through its development in urban entertainment and popular culture, sexually explicit media have become a wider range of industries to be viewed, interpreted and sexually enacted by performers and audiences. At the same time, the body image of commercial porn has been shifting away from its obsession with pure femininity or masculinity, as younger “edgier” models and matured-aged entrepreneurs have set up their businesses. The panel will show how pornography and the body image are adopted and reinvented by performers and audiences and debate feminist visions and “hateful” patriarchal responses within the expanding pornosphere.

Photo credit: Michael@metropop

To Consent & to Resent: Discourses of Sexual Agency in Hong Kong Media

Donna Chu, Associate Professor, Journalism and Communication, Chinese University of Hong Kong


Since 2009, photobooks featuring teenage models in sexy poses have become standard provisions in the annual Hong Kong Book Fair. The images of scantily-dressed women sparked controversies in both mainstream news media and social media. An analysis of such pictures found that the production of erotica was a careful calculation of a host of factors, including the consideration of traditional Chinese attitudes toward sex, legal constraints on sexual representation and expectations of the target audiences (Chu, 2013).

In 2015, a six-year old girl participated in the production of a photobook which was to be sold in the Hong Kong Book Fair. The photobook soon caught the attention of critics who questioned about the sexual connotations of a few pictures. It eventually led to the recall of all available copies. Despite the decision, the incident has provoked debates on sexual representation and child pornography, as well as issues related to sexual agency, sexual expression and repression. This study has identified and studied competing discourses in mainstream news media and social media. They reflect unspoken assumptions about various kinds of consent and resent in sexualities in today Hong Kong. With these revelations, how this predominantly Chinese society responds to sex matters are further discussed.

About the Speaker

Donna Chu, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, works on research about youth media culture, gender and media literacy. 

Sex for Work, Fun & Revolution in Early Hong Kong Media

Ching Yau, Associate Professor, Cultural Studies (retired)


In Flower of Joy (1944), Hendrik De Leeuw described a “Chinese dinner” in Hong Kong as follows: “Since the female relations of the host were not invited, we had to soothe our hurt feelings to make up for their absence with some sing-song girls, seated on either side of us and who entertained us while we ate with music, small talk and I must confess with occasional flirtation.” My paper will begin by comparing this narrative with another sexualized intercultural depiction in Follow Your Dream (1941), one of the few pre-WWII Hong Kong films extant, made by leftist filmmaker Lu Dun. The film traces the conversion of a young “lady from a respectable family” (da jia gui xiu) to sex worker in supporting her patriotic/revolutionary boyfriend and his family. These will be further studied in the context of Hong Kong laws regulating sex work alongside popular media representation of prostitutes in early 20th century Hong Kong, ranging from major newspapers such as Wah Kiu Yat Po to “small” newspapers (aka xiaobao or tabloids) such as Hu Chiao Po (supplement of South China Daily News) and Gu Zi. This study seeks to further understanding of the intersections among and between class, ethnicity and sexuality vis-à-vis colonial structures of power in forming an early modern Hong Kong Chinese sexual culture.

About the Speaker


A graduate in Studio Art from the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York, Yau Ching received her BA in English and Comparative Literature from University of Hong Kong, MA in Media Studies from The New School for Social Research in New York, PhD in Media Arts from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and was awarded a Rockefeller Post-doctoral Humanities Fellowship in Women’s Studies from the University of Hawaii. Currently she is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Chinese Studies in Taiwan and also serves as Postgraduate Thesis Supervisor for Cultural Studies at Hong Kong Lingnan University and for Graduate Institute for Gender Studies at Shih Hsin University, Taiwan.

She has authored and edited twelve books including Filming Margins: Tang Shu Shuen, a Forgotten Hong Kong Woman Director (2004), Sexing Shadows: a study of representation of gender and sexuality in Hong Kong cinema (2005), As Normal as Possible: Negotiating Sexuality and Gender In Mainland China and Hong Kong (2010) and Sexual Politics (2006). Her bilingual collection of poems, The Impossible Home (2000) won the Runner-Up Prize at the Chinese Literary Biennial while her award-winning film/video works have been invited to venues/festivals including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Robert Flaherty International Film Seminars, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, London International Film Festival, European Media Arts Festival in Germany, among others, and broadcast in North America, Europe and Japan.

Hong Kong Women's Queer Port Tastes & Twink Fantasies

Katrien Jacobs, Associate Professor, Cultural and Religious Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong


How do Hong Kong Chinese women respond to representations of sexuality and the sex act in mainstream and alternative pornographies? A cross-cultural GRF funded research study sets out to analyze women’s reactions to screened porn segments in Hong Kong, Japan and the USA. By outlining a cultural boom in trans-Asian women’s pornographies and how they are perceived in Hong Kong, the article defends women’s “drifting gaze” as one that projects intimacy as well as discomfort onto mainstream and female-friendly pornographies. 

About the Speaker 

Katrien Jacobs works as Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received a Ph.D. in ComparativeLiterature and Media from the University of Maryland at College Park. Her dissertation about 1960s/1970s performance art pioneered a unique blend of theoretical essays and video documentaries. She has continued to work as a scholar and media artist who employs different media and styles of reflection to examine people’s experiences with the body, art, media and sexuality. She has lectured and published widely about pornography, censorship and media activism in Hong Kong, China and global media environments.

Les Watch Porn: Pornography & Sexually Formation in Young Hong Kong Lesbians

Sonia Wong, Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Studies, Lingnan University


Previous studies on lesbian spectatorship of pornography focused much on the consumption and reception of queer pornography by lesbian audience. In this presentation, I would like to suggest, through my research with a group of young Hong Kong lesbians, that we should also pay attention to the interaction between lesbian spectator and “straight porn”. By tracing their initial exposure to pornographic materials and lesbian-related information, I would like to investigate the relationship between flows of queer knowledge, sexuality and identity formation, to explore the heterosexual conditioning of homosexuality, and the many possible ways of being lesbians in the Hong Kong context.


About the Speaker

Sonia Wong is a full-time PhD student at the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University. Her areas of interest include lesbianism, pornography, identity formation, and sexual subjectivity.

She founded Reel Women Hong Kong in 2013, aiming at promoting female-created films and art works, as well as gender equality and awareness in society.

Apart from organizing Reel Women Hong Kong Film Festival, her creative endeavors include poetry, short fiction, and visual arts. She has recently published her first bi-lingual poetry collection ‘Unseemingly Lasting’.

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