Hong Kong is famous for being a melting pot of cultures. After living here for 4 years, I can say that my view of the world has expanded significantly. I’ve been exposed to so many different cultures, religions, personalities, and even sports. However, I still have not experienced much diversity amongst gender.
What is gender?
I think I can speak for the majority of us when I say that as children, we were taught that the world was only populated by males and females. This is known as the gender binary. This is the framework for thinking about gender that only sees a person’s gender as one of two things. This binary is created by gender essentialism, the belief that males and females are born with things that make them inherently male or female. This belief is incredibly restrictive. It does not acknowledge people who don’t fit within the binary.
The gender spectrum is the more inclusive way of thinking about gender. This embraces the idea that biological sex, gender identity (what gender you identify with), and expression of gender (how you express your gender on the outside) exist on a complex spectrum.
If you still need a little clarification, this video from Laci Green explains the concept of gender as well as multiple different genders!
Being such a business centered community, I felt like Hong Kong would be the perfect place to discuss gender equality/inequality within the workplace, and just in daily life. I wanted to learn more about my community and make connections with the people I met in hopes of gaining new and interesting stories.
Over the course of a few days, I went out into the city and asked random people the same questions as I ask all of you in the polls below. Although there are only 3 stories here, responses ranged from very detailed stories to one worded answers. I want these stories to encourage people to learn more about the gender inequality in their own cities, as well as promote equality whether you conform to the “norms” or lie somewhere on the spectrum.
“Sometimes when we were eating, my grandmother would give my brother a chicken wing or any of the other good food, and she wouldn’t give me any. If she would, it would be the food that no one else really wanted. Other times, if I were to go outside to play or hang out my friends, she would think I’m so bad, but if my brother did the same thing, she would allow him.”
“How old were you when you realized that the things that were happening to you were unfair?”
“I haven’t personally experienced anything that I’m aware of.”
“Have you witnessed anyone being treated unfairly because of their gender?”
“I’m from an old fashioned village in the New Territories. In more traditional families around Hong Kong, males come first and females are typically second. As backwards as it sounds, it’s still true.”
“I’m from the Philippines. The people there in the Philippines are very friendly and caring and loving. I don’t see people treating others badly.”
“Have you noticed any difference between Hong Kong and the Philippines?”
“Since Hong Kong is full of a lot of different cultures, it is difficult to tell if someone is being treated badly due to their gender. A lot of awful things happen to both women and men, but with all of the cultural differences, it is nearly impossible to tell.
From doing this project, I was able to learn about the different people from Hong Kong. Although I was unable to find people from all over the gender spectrum, I think I was able to get a lot of insight about inequality in Hong Kong. I was expecting for everyone to have at least one story of a time they have experienced an advantage/disadvantage because of their gender, and I was shocked but also pleased when the majority of the people I talked to did not have a story. I am completely aware that I did not talk to enough people to confidently say that there is a low amount of inequality in Hong Kong, but from these interviews as well as personal experience, I am able to say that the inequality levels in Hong Kong are significantly lower than those of the United States.
By doing this project, I had hoped to encourage people to come out with their stories to make others more aware of what they are going through. I also wanted to be able to learn more about my community, from people in the community. I think that the interviews are a good way to make people feel more comfortable when talking about their experiences, and I am hoping that this encourages more people to talk about the times in which they have experienced or witnessed inequality.