I launched my new book The Afterglow of Women’s Pornography in Post-Digital China in the ACO book store in Hong Kong. It was a cathartic kind of event, as the launch can be for the author who finally exits a space of desolation and mental exhaustion while trying to communicate with the outer world. Egret Chow delivered a testimony about being labeled “left-over woman” in mainland China–the class of women who defy the patriotic push to marry and procreate. She offered a view of being a happy single and presented this as another kind of “queer” sexual position that projects a person’s multiple hopes and needs.
In my book I also write about ghost fictions and propose a notion of phantom feminism based on Jack Halberstam’s theory of shadow feminism and Judith Zeitlin’s feminist reading of ancient ghost stories . I had a chat about this with Ling Tang, a Ph.D. student in sociology who could not endorse “phantom feminism” and perhaps believed that I should be more attentive to the material realm of sexual relations and sexual politics. But then I have been stuck inside the porn0-mediated-realm for a while and try to wrestle it from the alarmist feminist traditions of women’s harm.
Hence there is a chapter about the impact of pornographic Boys’ Love manga and online fictions, the extensive subcultures of women’s gay erotica that have very little to do with their embodied LGBT sexualities and activism. The news media have recently tried to probe the sexual identities of these “straight” woman but straight is also an inadequate label. Many do not necessarily belong to the LGBT class but they do have extensive queer knowledge and tastes and alter lives that impact their sexual identity regardless of the LGBT labeling systems.
I am now continuing the project under the title “If you are going to San Francisco” and will invite Hong Kongers to c0mment on San Francisco’s queer porn industries. I have spent the summer observing porn shoots and videotaping many hours of interviews with queer and feminist sex experts. As a Belgian-born gwailo living in the predominantly ethnically Chinese city of Hong Kong, certainly and for surely I cannot represent the Hong Kong view on porn. But I will invite queer Hong Kong to comment frankly on San Francisco–its sexual fashions and issues, tastes and pleasures, body types, marketing ideas & celebrity models, and so on.
So to all queer people of Hong Kong:
Halberstam, Jack (2011) The Queer Art of Failure, Durham: Duke University Press.
Zeitlin, Judith (1994) “Shared Dreams: The Story of the Three Wives’ Commentary on the Peony Pavillion,” In Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 54:1, pp. 127-179.
Zeitlin, Judith T (2007) The Phantom Heroine: Ghosts and Gender in 17th Century Chinese Literature, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press.