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Monga Women and Im/possible Feminisms

Sun, June 26, 1:00 to 2:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: BF, 012


Nearly two decades after the Taipei licensed prostitute turned sex worker movement of 1997 (in protest against the city government’s revoking of licenses), the television serial Monga Women (2014) represents historical relations among prostitute, concubine, and primary wife in ways that speak to late nineteen seventies Taiwan feminist fables, late nineteen nineties feminist debates over the impossible feminism of sex as work, and finally twenty first century debates on tongzhi or gay, lesbian and transgender marriage rights. This paper looks at local and international forces that impede alliance in 1997 between working class non-Mandarin-speaking ex licensed prostitutes, some of whom are or have cohabited with married men (concubines), and urban, mostly professional, feminist women in late nineteen nineties Taiwan. The paper reads Monga Women refracted through ethnographic work on petty commodity practices in Southeast China and Taiwan (Hill Gates). Such juxtaposition yields helpful understanding of nineteen nineties feminist divisions over sex work; it also affords a critical take on the stakes of fictional relations among prostitute, concubine, and primary wife, in the age of monogamy.