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Title: Making lesbian families in Taiwan
Author: Pai, Erh-Ya
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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Benefitting from social changes in the last few decades, single Taiwanese women seem to have gained greater sexual autonomy and freer lifestyle choices. Single lesbians can now more easily pass as heterosexual; however, this is not an easy choice once they form a relationship. Despite increased freedoms, it is difficult for lesbian erotic relationships to be acknowledged in patriarchal families. I argue for an understanding of lesbian relationships that takes account of families of origin and lesbians’ negotiation of the wider social context of Taiwanese Confucian patriarchy. Drawing on a qualitative study of 15 lesbian couples, with data from couple interviews and individual interview for each (i.e. 45 interviews in total), this research explores how lesbians form their relationships and develop their notion of family. Participants were aged between 28 and 40 and most had attended higher education. At the time of the interviews, the length of relationships averaged at seven years and varied from six months to sixteen years. Most couples were living together while two were temporarily in long distance relationships. Individual interviews focused on personal sexual stories, how lesbians developed their sexual identities in various social settings and the ways they negotiated their sexuality with their families of origin. Couple interviews then focused on relationship histories, the ways they committed to and conducted their relationships. Four main areas of analysis emerged from accounts: how lesbians recognised same sex attraction, how that differed from identifying as lesbian and the ways they built up communities and group norms; negotiating sexuality in their families of origin and their relations with their partner’s families of origin; lesbian couples’ relationship practices and their varying experiences of commitment; lesbian couples’ domestic arrangements, including differing degrees of equality that they achieved and how gender role-playing influenced these decisions. By highlighting the specific issues in Taiwan, I argue that it is possible for lesbians to make their lives outside patriarchal families and this is understandable only in their situational contexts.
Supervisor: Jackson, Stevi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available