How to explain and apply key theories and concepts relating to historical and contemporary definitions of and perspectives on gender.
Multiple experts from across faculties at The University of Hong Kong and professionals engaged in gender-related developments in Asia will address the ways in which gender is understood, constructed and performed. Drawing from a variety of perspectives – cultural studies, economics, education, law, linguistics, psychology, public health, politics, social policy, and sociology – we begin by questioning meanings of gender in different cultural settings and historical moments. What do the representations of our currently used categories such as man, woman, transgender, queer, cisgender, bisexual, or intersex mean in different contexts? How are conversations about gender taking place in Asia and how do they converge or diverge from those happening elsewhere?
The course is a comparative, interdisciplinary and cross-sector conversation which encourages reflective thinking about practices of gender. It courts and questions the fixity of language, traditions, laws, and practices as well as the resilience of stereotypes, biases, and structures which perpetuate myths, hierarchies and discrimination.
Unraveling the interlinkages between these conversations and categories equips you with the skills needed to identify, recognize and reject outmoded or biased constructions of gender as well as the power hierarchies these embed within social relations. We will examine why gender equity is so important and yet hard to achieve. We scrutinize social and legal constructions of gender which continue to operate as though gender is binary and explore a more inclusive approach which reflects the gender continuum within the context of entrenched power structures. Through understanding gender and its relations with society, we look for solutions to eradicate gender discrimination and gender-based violence.
Additionally, as digital technology plays an ever-increasing role in contemporary construction of social realities of people, the course looks into how, if at all, these networked communities offer new expressions of gender as performativity and the ways in which these replicate, reproduce or refashion traditional gender categories and roles.
Then we turn to challenge our everyday practices of gender and how they colour our approaches, assumptions, and biases (conscious and unconscious) about the ‘other’? The course invites scrutiny of the practice and performance of gendering self and others. At the same time, it is a reminder that gender is not just about identity but also about power. The course examines manifestations and causes of gender inequality and its inextricable link to structural and institutional forces of discrimination. To better understand the interaction between identity and power, we look at gender-based violence. The #metoo movement has exposed not only the depth and scale of violence but also unmasked the asymmetries of power. Power and privilege are enjoyed by a select group while the voices of others remain invisible and ignored.
We conclude by looking at local, national and global efforts to address gender disparities in society in various domains. We invite you to reflect on the course materials and to connect them to your daily life. How can your new understandings about gender generate a ripple of change around you?