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Harmonizing the Resistance, Resisting the Harmony: A Critical Discourse on the Reconstruction of Indigenous Theory of Gender Justice in Hong Kong

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In Hong Kong, even though the Bill of Rights Ordinance (the localized version of ICCPR), Sex Discrimination Ordinance and a series of legal reforms were enacted and introduced respectively in 1991 and 1994, gender discrimination in legal discourse still persists. Chinese customary law, which only recognises the male's right to build small houses in the New Territories, remains an exception under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance; and the oppression of (female) sex workers is not yet recognized. Some politicians argue that discrimination is inherent in the Han-Chinese culture of harmony, which is impossible to understand from the Euro-American individual-centric perspective of gender equality. They further quote Daoist YIN-YANG cosmology where YANG/Male/Masculinity is supreme; and Confucian Constant Virtues where women are marginalized as examples showing that Han-Chinese culture, where harmony is hegemonized, cannot tolerate or accept gender equality. This paper adopts a critical perspective in examining the above arguments and points out not only that a “pure” version of patriarchal socio-legal culture in the name of harmony hegemony does not exist, but (indigenous) culture should always be meticulously and critically represented in order to reproduce “justice”. I would also argue that it is possible to scrutinize and explore the spaces of resistance within the Hong Kong Han-Chinese socio-legal culture, where foreign theories of gender justice/equality and related legal reforms can be examined.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Law and Business, Shue Yan University


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