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Sexuality, culture and identity

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Thursday 16:30 – 18:20

Lecture venue

Course description

What is human sexuality? How can we understand erotic desires? Why are some forms of sexualities being constructed as ‘normal’ while others are being considered as ‘deviant’? This course introduces students to how human sexuality is formed by social, economic, political, and cultural factors. We will study closely how new forms of intimacy question our common ways of understanding romantic relationships and erotic desires. We will also examine the intersectionality of various factors including gender, class, race, ethnicity and health status that affect how we have come to understand sexualities.

By specifically focusing on Asian cultures, students will be introduced to readings that cover feminisms, gay and lesbian studies, queer theory, and contemporary sociological theories on the body. At the end of this course, students will come to understand how political their sexual life is, namely ender politics, sexual politics, body politics, and politics of intimacy. Key lecture topics include feminisms and feminist movements, transgenderism and intersexuality, beauty myth, HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, sexual morality and religion, sexual rights, LGBTIQ+ movements, disability and sexuality, sex work, pornography, urban space of desire, BDSM, sexual violence, and sexuality education.

Course learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • To gain a basic understanding of gender and human sexuality.
  • To examine sexual identities and sexualities in different Asian cultures.
  • To understand the intersectionality of social factors embedded in human sexuality.
  • To develop critical thinking and apply theories on understanding sexuality.
  • To apply presentation skills and to develop writing competence for group projects and essays.


Tutorial Presentation and Participation15%
Reflective Essay25%
Written Response10%
Pink News Analysis10%

Required reading

Bartky, S.L. 1999. “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power”. Pp. 103-118 in Feminist Philosophies, edited by Janet A. Kourany, James P. Sterba and Rosemarie Tong. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Boyle, Karen. 2014. “Feminism and Pornography”. Pp. 215-231 in The SAGE Handbook of Feminist Theory, edited by Mary Evans, Clare Hemmings, Marsha Henry, Hazel Johnstone, Sumi Madhok, Ania Plomien and Sadie Wearing. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Butler, Judith. 1990. “Subject of Sex/Gender/Desire”. Pp. 3-44 in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge.

Chiang, Howard. 2017. “Intimate Equality and Transparent Selves: Legalizing Transgender Marriage in Hong Kong”. Culture, Theory and Critique 58(2): 166-181.

Escoffier, Jeffrey. 1998. “The Invention of Safer Sex: Vernacular Knowledge, Gay Politics and HIV Prevention”. Berkeley Journal of Sociology 43: 1-30.

Green, Adam Isaiah, and Perry N. Halkitis. 2006. “Crystal Methamphetamine and Sexual Sociality in an Urban Gay Subculture: An Elective Affinity”. Culture, Health & Sexuality 8(4): 317-333.

Jackson, Stevi. 2006. “Gender, Sexuality and Heterosexuality”. Feminist Theory 7(1): 105-121.

Jackson, Stevi and Sue Scott. 1996. “Sexual Skirmishes and Feminist

Factions: Twenty Five Years of Debate on Women and Sexuality.” Pp. 1-34 in Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader, edited by Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott. New York: Columbia University Press.

Jones, Tiffany. 2011. “A Sexuality Education Discourses Framework: Conservative, Liberal, Critical, and Postmodern.” American Journal of Sexuality Education


Kong, Travis S.K. 2006. “What It Feels Like for a Whore: The Body Politics of Women Performing Erotic Labor in Hong Kong”. Gender, Work and Organization 13(5): 409-434.

Kong, Travis S.K., Sky H.L. Lau and Eva C.Y. Li. 2015. “The Fourth Wave? A Critical Reflection on Tongzhi Movement in Hong Kong”. Pp. 188-201 in The Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia, edited by Mark McLelland and Vera Mackie. London: Routledge.

Kong, Travis S.K., Sky H.L. Lau and Amory H.W. Hui. 2019. “Tongzhi”. Pp. 1603-1609 in Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History, edited by Howard Chiang and Anjali R. Arondekar. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Plummer, Ken. 1995. “Intimate Citizenship: The Politics of Sexual Story Telling.” Pp. 144-166 in Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds. London: Routledge.

Rampton, Martha. 2015. Four Waves of Feminism, assessed at


Richardson, Diane. 2000. “Constructing Sexual Citizenship: Theorizing

Sexual Rights”. Critical Social Policy 20(1): 105-135.

Rubin, Gayle. 2007[1984]. “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality”. Pp. 150-187 in Culture, Society and Sexuality: A Reader, edited by Richard Parker and Peter Aggleton. Abingdon: Routledge.

Weeks, Jeffrey. 2017. “The Invention of Sexuality”. Pp. 18-68 in Sexuality. New York: Routledge.

Wolf, Naomi. 1991. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are used against Women (extracts from Pp. 131-150). New York: Anchor Books.

Wong, Angela Wai-ching. 2013. “The Politics of Sexual Morality and Evangelical Activism in Hong Kong”. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 14(3): 340-360.

Yau, Carmen. 2019. “Sex and Stigma: The Impact of Structural Violence on

People with Disabilities in Taiwan”. China Journal of Social Work 12(2): 100-118.

Recommended reading

Andersen, Margaret L. 2011. “Women, Power, and Politics”, “Women and

Social Reform: Liberal Feminism”, and “Contemporary Frameworks in Feminist Theory”. Pp. 325-357, Pp. 358-384, and Pp. 385-416 in Thinking about Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. “On Postmodern Uses of Sex.” Theory, Culture

& Society 15(3): 19-33.

Cheung, Eleanor Pui Kei. 2012. “Transgenders in Hong Kong: From

Shame to Pride”. Pp. 263-284 in Transgender China, edited by Howard Chiang. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Coole, Diana. 2013. “The Body and Politics”. Pp. 165-188 in The Oxford

Handbook of Gender and Politics, edited by Karen Celis et.al. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kong, Travis S.K. 2006. “What It Feels Like for a Whore: The Body

Politics of Women Performing Erotic Labor in Hong Kong”. Gender, Work and Organization 13(5): 409-434.

Kong, Travis S.K. 2012. “A Fading Tongzhi Heterotopia: Hong Kong Older

Gay Men’s Use of Spaces.” Sexualities 15(8):896-916.

Weeks, Jeffrey. 1999. “The Sexual Citizen”. Pp. 35-52 in Love and

Eroticism, edited by Mike Featherstone. London: Sage.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Office opening hours adjustment