The man who never screamed during orgasm.

I had been invited by Professor Sufen Song of Sun Yat-Sen University in Guanzhou to give a talk about “Feminine Pornography as Art of Failure” and to hold a workshop with women who are into gay erotic animations and fictions.  The talk garnered unusually rich feedback from students. The workshop was well attended and came alive during the second half, where they were asked to imagine  a short story about  gay couple in Berlin, an older Belgian professor Moenen (named after the devil in the Flemish medieval story Marieke Van Nijmeghen) who falls in love with the much younger Fritz from Berlin.

The Guanzhou imagination ran wild as students improvised their versions of this relationship.  One student recited her story in loud and confident english sentences and was not shy to use the f*** word. And several days later that very story got stuck in my mind, so I summarize it here for you:

Professor Moenen is very old-fashioned and strict, the kind of person who takes care of his own household. Between the two world wars he visits Berlin. a wet and dark city, and ends up in a bar called Neo, filled with strictly gay men. They are the kind who drink their coffees while talking about Plato. When Moenen runs into the gorgeous Fritz, he falls for him quickly and does all the things Fritz tells him to do.

Fritz  fucks professor Moenen very hard. But Moenen does not scream or shout it loud. Fritz wants him to say “Fuck me harder!” but he does not shout. Fritz soon is tired of the old dog who just follows him around. In the end he dumps old Moenen who also  ends up being forgotten by history.

It is only when Fritz himself become Professor many years later, that he misses the old men.

Perhaps these young Chinese women like to pester high-brow masculinity and deprive it of a voice. As they explained afterwards, they like to eroticize vulnerability and pain alongside the details of sexual conquest. Let this be a lesson for us middle-aged academics. If at all possible, let’s follow our wildest desires and do it with younger lovers, but let our matured minds also really enjoy the sex, “to scream and shout it out loud!”

becoming-bourgeois (the hong kong way)

I am still stuck in the Festival City, the brandnew ultra-highrise complex in the New Territories, looking onto the Shatin canal on the east side, and onto a magic mountain on the west. The mountain was nostalgically reconstructed by means of a digital effect on my Sony Lumix DMC-ZS3 called ‘pinhole.’  With this device I seek my own moments of Orientalism, not in the sense of exoticizing and flirting with the Chinese (I have tried but got rejected) but by picturing a mythic landscape to salvage this condition that I live in. It is a highly sanitized and top security living arrangement for the Hong Kong bourgeoisie, a place where you are sealed off from the Tai Wai working class and where as humans you can stop saying hello to each other. Here it is only children and the small pets who still display social behaviors. The dwellers of the Festival City seems to be remote and grumpy despite the fact that their choice of apartment reveals that they have landed nicely.


So what is wrong then with life in the Festival City? There are no restaurants, no small stores, no vendors of goods, no racks for bicycles, no benches, no lawns, no bars in this place. There are cheaply engineered flower arrangements but no smell of the earth. At sunset we should be able to descend from our top-level apartment and have a little chat with our  neighbors. Just sit down and have a drink, listen to radio music, or sit on a bench amongst smells of the outdoors, gaze at the unknown and fuzzy-chat, practice our Cantonese, our Korean, our French.  Instead, they all stay at home and hire tutors for their multi-gifted children.

This place could be the setting of a mechanime movie about a dark post-human futrure that ends in social protest, the children walking together and occupying the strange sterile walkway that runs through their complex. They once posted security personel on this walkway to direct human traffic in two divided lanes, but the dwellers said “Shit, this really sucks.” The traffic cops were then removed and reassigned duties, but the atmosphere stayed the same. There is still no social vibe, no joi de vivre in the Festival City. It really is a convenient and luxuruous place to live in, but in the end, as Lou Reed sang for the small town children, you know that you gotta get out.


I believe in low theory

What I am doing these days:

I am a believer in low theory, as stated by Jack Halberstam: “I believe in low theory in popular places, in the small, inconsequential, the antimonumental, the micro, the irrelevant. I believe in making differences by thinking little thoughts and by sharing them widely. I seek to provoke, annoy, bother, irritate, and amuse; I am chasing small projects, micropolitics, hunches, whims, fancies.”(p.21, The Queer Art of Failure)

I had a hunch about something when visiting these little jizobosatusu statues at the side of Zojoji Shrine, Tokyo, devoted to stillborn babies, but I did not know what was ahead of me. I admired the finely crocheted red hats made by mourning mothers. These scullptures were the most memorable trivia of my trip and I had just stumbled upon them. They punctured me with feelings of love and loss, all these dead babies and their immaculate outfits left behind by mothers and families, sometimes baby toys and objects.

Nobody noticed it too much, except for my sister Mieke, a legal consultant in the Flemish parliament on children’s rights,  who always looked at my snaps of travels and who happened to comment on these statues. They punctured her a little bit as well. Our eyes fell upon them and we probably sensed amazement and pain.

When she fell ill several months ago and finally died of cancer on january 19, 2013, I knew how special her support for me had been. She liked my whimsical intellectual nature. With her departure, my world has gone haywire, I fight my counter-attacks to hegemonic academia, l stay afloat and follow my whims and fancies and I chase small projects. I believe in my own micro-niche university but I am still  not quite recovered from her absence.



Deep Kwoktalk

Last friday I made an appearance on Crystal Kwok’s RTHK talk show Kwoktalk.  It was an amazing and quite relaxing experience as Kwok is very sharp, accomodating and open-minded and we really went into the topic of cultural tastes in porn, online seduction by means of DIY porn as well as male/female body image and queer porn. My session was preceded by Belinda Flanders of the dating website Lovestruck, which is currently making waves in Hong Kong. I will talk more about the unbearable lightness of sex sites (and the annoying “seriousness” of dating sites) in my talk for the Anthropology Society at in the Museum of History on thursday 18 october.

Belinda Flanders, presenter Crystal Kwok and Katrien Jacobs

Drifting Eyeballs

The experiments in feminine porn taste have begun here in Hong Kong and then will move onto Japan and the USA in June-July. I have started to do small-group screenings for women to discuss their reactions to different porn scenes. I have so far invited a class of my university students and collaborated with two lesbian organizations, Women’s Coalition of Hong Kong and G-Spot. Meredith Chivers’ thesis that women have very flexible desires and arousal patterns and do not need category-specific products holds up. (1)Each time we look at several porn scenes produced in “Asia” and “the West”–straight, lesbian, gay–and there has been lots of praise for the gay porn clip featuring Miles Pride and Kyler Moss. The reason why Pride and Moss win the vote is that they are very elegant lovers and just seem to be “much more into it” than the other actors/actresses? It seems easy for women to adore these male bodies, just as it may be even easier for them to take distance from gay sex. And why is it that this position of drifting in and out of does not work for straight men? Or is that just a piece of old news?

(1) Chivers et al, ” A Sex Difference in the Specificity of Sexual Arousal,” Psychological Science, 4:11 pp. 736-44.

A New Phase in Life

I still live in Tai Wai but have moved to a building called Festival City, Phase II. This brandnew maximum-security residential complex is nick-named “the shield”  because it is shaped like a tall weapon that cuts right through the urban environment.  It was built in three “phases” and the last one is still under construction. Each phase consists of 5 huge apartment blocks, each stacked with 50 floors of bright and clean apartments , with 4 apartments on each floor.

It could now become a question on the analytical skills section of the Hong Kong college entrance exam–given that each apartment holds an average of 3 dwellers, how many apartment dwellers can we find in the Festival City? And then: How are those dwellers going to interact with each other, if at all, those who paid an arm and a leg to rent or purchase one the highly overprized little cubicles ? (The essay question)

We moved here three weeks ago and will report on private whereabouts and the social affect of futuristic high-rise culture. I start with a glorious view from the living room. I have previously shared dark thoughts about living in Hong Kong’s dense highrise buildings and imaging the sex lives of others–how it is perhaps even futile or impossible to cross the boundary to grasp other people, other bodies, other races.

I am reminded of a talk by Trinh T. Minh Ha  from her book “Elsewhere, Within Here: Immigration, Refugeeism and the Boundary Event,” where she describes “the boundary event” as a process of self-torture where you try to cross over to another culture and confront an obstacle like a big wall. This wall may become a mental fixation and determines life expectations and moods. Then sometimes it is simply the case that you have not realized that you are already living on the other side. This is how I feel about myself and the Festival City. I definitely cannot imagine that I live here, but somehow it is true.



Peter Teffer blog: Bloot als politiek wapen in China

De foto’s staan als memory-kaartjes naast elkaar en zijn bepaald niet opwindend. Je ziet jong en oud, man en vrouw, met als enige gezamenlijk kenmerk: geen kleren aan. Ongeveer tweehonderd mensen, vooral Chinezen, hebben naaktfoto’s op internet geplaatst om de Chinese kunstenaar en activist Ai Weiwei te steunen. Boven de afbeeldingen staat ‘Luister, Chinese regering, naaktheid is géén pornografie’.  Lees hier verder

The Effects of Youth on Pornography

From People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet (Intellect Books)

While much of my meanderings through Chinese pop and porn culture usually originate from conversations with friends and colleagues, occasionally I receive a message from an anonymous party whose motivations are unknown. I once received a zip file attachment with DIY photos of a young couple “caught in the act”, photos snapped outside the window of a university dormitory. To receive such a gift, from an unknown and untested source,it made me a bit paranoid, but I also realized that I had to take it at face value, as it was saying” We do have sex in China. Please include us in your collection.”

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