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IN This shift towards late marriage took place during a period of across-the-board advances in employment for women and a remarkable improvement in their education. The status and role of women in the community has come a long way in a relatively short time. And the elevation of women's education and status has had an impact on the way they deal with their identity in regard to love, conjugal relationships and sexuality. Middle-aged Chinese women in Hong Kong who live their lives according to a "conventional" heterosexual life script are referred to as si-nai.
The two Chinese characters in the term mean "teacher" and "breast," respectively. The term, which originated in Hong Kong in the s, was initially one of respect, but now carries the derogatory meaning of a "middle-aged married woman who is ignorant, overweight, and 'penny wise but pound foolish. An analysis of their narratives reveals pro-active response strategies to this derogatory usage.
Through my interviews with 67 si-nais between andI began to understand how they perceived themselves and how they reacted when addressed as si-nais. I found that they had ways of rehabilitating their roles and identities through everyday practices of resistance see references below to Ho, a, b; a, b, These stories of married women in Hong Kong and their sexual choices help reveal how they have produced new scripts on gender, love, sex, marriage and family during this transformation and moved beyond the "Three Obediences and Four Virtues" that have governed Han Chinese women for so long.
In Chinese tradition, a woman was required to obey her father before marriage, her husband during marriage, and her sons in widowhood; the virtues are morality, proper speech, modest manner and diligent work. Hong Kong si-nais, however, have rewritten the scripts.
Most studies of middle-aged women have focused on women fulfilling traditional roles of the good wife, mother and homemaker. Very often, motherhood is considered the core of women's identity, while other aspects of the self are pushed into an outer circle and are considered less important.
My study showed that middle-aged married women in Hong Kong are aware of how labels are used to control them and belittle their contributions, and so resist being pinned down to a fixed identity by altering the meaning of being women and by creating new identities when they find that their children no longer need them. Throughout the interviews, these women kept saying, "I am not a si-nai at all!
New virtues for women's behavior might be: healthy, beautiful, looking younger than their age, fashionable, sexual in a modest way, useful and socially respectable. We can argue that these women are conforming to the homogenizing and normalizing images of beauty that have arisen in a patriarchal and capitalist society. However, we can also argue that they are subverting their motherhood and wifehood identities by emphasizing their erotic appeal and the use of the body as a site of pleasure. The dissatisfaction of these women with their lives as wives and mothers is a motivating force for resisting a stigmatized social identity and stereotyped image.
Interviewees with children quite explicitly stated that they envied women who had experienced success in the work place. They felt the urgency to negotiate their social roles and articulate and contest China - Hong Kong girls love sex discourses that constitute social reality, even though they did not necessarily have the alternative source of self- esteem provided by a career.
They had done many things to achieve this and reinvent themselves. It is important to look at how women pursue self-development and pleasure through activities such as working out, slimming, leisure activities, voluntary work, interest classes and extramarital relationships. Rather than holding on to the family roles of their younger days, Hong Kong si-nais have learned to be "flexible housewives" by actively expanding their life space from motherhood to diverse other spheres.
These supplementary activities are important, though often overlooked, in the complex life-worlds of modern women. What women do besides take care of their families highlights aspects of their lives that have traditionally been overlooked or undervalued.
Women's life-worlds are never complete, and always invite reconfiguration. The question is: How do these supplementary activities subvert their social identities, create new lifestyles and save the women if their husbands leave them for younger women?
Just as Hong Kong is finding the anchor for its new relationship to mainland China uncertain, Hong Kong women are feeling insecure about their status and marriages. Many husbands travel to mainland China to exploit financial advantages that their Hong Kong status provides them. There is an inexhaustible supply of younger women and sexual possibilities across the border, and many men find it difficult to resist these temptations. The of Hong Kong residents working in the mainland increased fromin to a peak ofin before declining slightly toby Of these, Rapid development in China has meant that these men face new situations that challenge their masculinity and cause both role conflict and role strain Ho, With the increasing value of the Renminbi compared to the Hong Kong dollar, it is becoming more difficult for Hong Kong men to establish and maintain their jobs and families across the border.
The impact of this on them, their Hong Kong wives and ex-wives should be explored. In the old days, the proper behavior for women whose husbands had affairs or new wives was to say nothing. New virtues for proper behavior and speech might be for women to voice their views and be more assertive in relationships even though they might hesitate to initiate divorce, knowing the many adverse consequences that this might lead to. Many Hong Kong women feel that their husbands' contribution to the family is often in the form of their salaries rather than in labor, emotion or energy.
They worry that their husband's sexual fantasies are being fueled by the women they encounter in bars or clubs, or by their mistresses or second wives.
With this in mind, do these women have sex? What does good sex mean to them? What is proper morality for modern women in sexuality? The women's narratives reveal that their perceptions of good sex might be summarized as follows Ho, a :. Women feel good if they have orgasms or pleasurable bodily sensations often related to other psychological satisfactions.
Women feel good in doing "the right thing" and being China - Hong Kong girls love sex as socially acceptable and respectable. Women feel good because of the erotic satisfaction they derive from including interests, leisure or other intimate China - Hong Kong girls love sex, rather than just from orgasm or physical pleasure. Women feel good through achieving psychological and social goals that are important in their life circumstances possibly including the maintenance of marriage and peace in the family.
These new virtues of sex for si-nais indicate that it is important for them to expand their life-worlds and find multiple sources of happiness. Social respectability, orgasm, emotional intimacy or other specific elements may or may not be part of their formula for happy marriage Ho, b. Some researchers have suggested that the economic problems caused by an aging Hong Kong population can be dealt with by encouraging middle-aged people to plan for retirement.
Hong Kong now has a non-statutory assistance plan, the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme CSSAwhich offers means-tested basic welfare benefits to the needy, and the Mandatory Provident Fund MPFwhich is a retirement scheme in which employers and employees each contribute a minimum of 5 percent of a worker's monthly income into the fund.
However, these arrangements, together with personal savings, seem to be less than adequate to meet the needs of most retirees. The MPF and CSSA are based on a model that illustrates the dominant discourse of retirement in Hong Kong, which incorporates a male-centered view of work life, paid employment and compensation. At its best, it provides for the less fortunate via a centralized distribution system. However, it does not address the needs of some women who do not move through the prototypical phases of full-time employment and then retirement.
Furthermore, wives are not entitled to a share of their husbands' or ex-husbands' benefits. Many studies of the elderly and retirement in Hong Kong adopt a theoretical framework that is indifferent to women's lives and experiences. I advocate a multiple, rather than singular, instrument of economic valuation and exchange. I believe that an alternative, feminist economic model should be a goal of feminist scholarship Ho, c. The findings of my study challenge the assumptions of the male-centered model of retirement planning and highlight the ificance of women's definitions of wealth and poverty, showing that women's retirement planning cannot be separated from their practices of self.
Hong kong's troubling shortage of men
By studying this "secret core" of women's wealth, China - Hong Kong girls love sex can understand how women actually view, value and manage money. The study finds that their private savings are for consumption as well as investment, and do not necessarily generate immediate benefits, but serve to strengthen their financial and socio-cultural capital to gain security, especially in later life.
The emotional leverage of consumption and investment in the market, the family or intimate relationships, are as important as the money itself, if not more. Asian women are often portrayed as materialistic and pragmatic. However, some women do not agree that a greater emphasis should be placed on economics than on the family and self-interest. Money and love are both important. In their investment projects, many women resist modern ing systems and see things such as time, interdependence, mutual benefit and trust as equal or greater in value to money.
They treasure opportunities for close personal fulfillment and emotional interaction. Women's savings and investments are not just for immediate benefit but also may serve to strengthen their socio-cultural capital, grounding it in interdependence with ificant others instead of mere money.
In slightly more than a decade, political and economic changes have brought about a new way of mapping Hong Kong women's desires.
In its transition from British colony to Chinese Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong has been repositioned politically, economically and socially in ificant ways, and we can observe how these changes have been mapped out in Hong Kong women's narratives of gender, marriage and sex. Although the focus of this piece has been Hong Kong, it potentially raises issues about other parts of Asia where socioeconomic changes are also causing women to rewrite scripts on gender, love, sex, marriage and family.
They try to attain mobility and freedom to expand their life spaces and chances, and to enhance opportunities to fulfill desires and attain recognition, through a variety of pursuits, including extramarital relationships and other activities, for fun, romance, adventure and other investment projects.
These new virtues may now be more important than traditional morality. Census and Statistics Department HK Projections of Population Distribution, Hong Kong.
Beyond obedience and virtue: love, sex and marriage in hong kong > articles
Most Read. The women's narratives reveal that their perceptions of good sex might be summarized as follows Ho, a : 1. Central Intelligence Agency US Retrieved from www. Ho, General: info globalasia.