P53. Perspectives on Gender and Women’s Agency

Session: Session 7, 3:45-5:15 pm, Saturday 9/30

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Lincoln

Chair: Yuhan Zhang (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Pujarinee Mitra (Texas A&M University), Qinqin Yang (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Kiki Zhao (University of California, San Diego)

Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s ‘Mouriphool’ (1923): Expressions of sakhiyani (female homoeroticism) in the language of Bengali domesticity

Speaker: Pujarinee Mitra
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University
Abstract: Ya Boy! Kongming through a film study approach. By thinking about how the “visual” is presented across different media, I explore intermediality, the representation of history in different media, and the use of film theories in literary analysis. 

Advocacy and Empowerment in the Narratives of Epidural Analgesia: Childbirth Diaries on Xiaohongshu

Speaker: qinqin Yang
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: This study focuses on the personal narratives about the childbirth experience and the usage of epidural analgesia on the Chinese social platform Xiaohongshu. This study adopts the method of qualitative research and analyzes themes of 700 first-person perspective narratives from Xiaohongshu. The results indicate that new mothers are self-motivated to narrate their experience and perceptions of “无痛分娩” (epidural analgesia). Multidimensional aspects of the uncertainty about epidural analgesia are revealed in narratives. Supportive communication can be located in narratives. New mothers provide informational and emotional social support to other women and promote epidural analgesia. Many accounts describe the negative interactions with obstetricians and how obstetricians disempower women by denying the appropriateness of timings that women request epidural analgesia and downplaying the necessity of addressing labor pain. Women reject the disempowerment by highlighting the intolerability of labor pain and delegitimizing labor pain tolerance, emphasizing women’s agency, advocating interventions, and underlining the importance of maternal well-being.

Women Who Ran Away  Negotiating to Live in Manchuria from the 1910s to 1950

Speaker: Kiki Zhao
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, San Diego
Abstract: My paper centers on the Chinese women who worked as prostitutes, forced or voluntarily, in the first half of the 20th century in Manchuria. Some ran away: from brothels to seek refuge in local shelters or avoid police and their raids not to register and pay prostitution tax. By examining why and how they ran away and what happened afterward, this paper also discusses the changing concept of womanhood and the status of women by situating their stories in Manchuria’s fluctuating social, economic, and political conditions as regimes changed hands.  Since no previous scholarship has studied non-elite Chinese people living in the warlord and the Japan-backed Manchukuo periods, my paper adds value to studying the history of Manchukuo. Adding to existing scholarship that has studied prostitutes and the prostitution industry in metropolises south of Manchuria, my paper furthers our understanding of non-elite working Chinese women in a new region. By focusing on the runaway women’s agency and society’s shifting views on women and prostitutes, my paper reveals that these women’s actions of running away, suing, refusing a suitor, and defying government regulations, challenged the male-dominated patriarchal social and political order. These defying actions disturbed the urban physical and moral space the regimes and elites constructed. By running away from and against the wills of the more powerful, the runaway women negotiated to live their own lives regardless of how limited choices and space they were left with.