SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Challenging Heterosexual Monogamy: Women Who Experience Extra-marital Sex in Taiwan



Professor Chen Mei-Hua

Date: 6 July 2020Time: 11:00 AM

Finishes: 6 July 2020Time: 12:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Summer School

As part of the 2020 SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School, we kindly ask that you register to attend.

This event will be held online through Blackboard Collaborate.

*Please be aware that all Summer School event times follow British Summer Time (BST)


Extra-marital sex (EMS) is a common practice in Taiwan, yet sociological research on EMS is obviously under-developed. A few studies show women who involve in EMS are demonized as promiscuous and suffered from sexual stigma, but we know little about how these women actually feel about these sexual experiences when casting aside societal judgements. Based on interview data with 25 women who involve in EMS, this study aims to reveal the ways these married women make sense of their involvement in EMS, and how EMS as an occasion for them to reflect on their sexual selves. According to interview data, the majority of interviewed women (aged between 26 and mid-50s) are less willing to tolerate ‘bad relations’ with husbands; some even plan to get divorce. They also feel less anxious about adultery lawsuits from their husbands. A few interviewees deliberately seek for married men as sexual partners to avoid pressure of more intimate obligations from single men. For women who rarely experiences intimacy and content sexual relations in their marriages, EMS provides satisfying relationships and opens up their journeys for intimate and sexual self. Above all, a few interviewees report that they fall in love with lesbians in EMS in the first time of their life. My interview data suggest that these women’s EMS engagement is not only about transgressing the boundaries of gender and sexual morality, but also challenging heteronormativity and experiencing a new sexual self.


Chen Mei-Hua Profile

Mei-Hua Chen  (PhD, Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York, UK)

Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan. Currently teaches Gender and Sexuality, Masculinities, Gender and Work. I have been published articles on issues such as sex work and sexuality in well-known journals both in Chinese and English. Recently my research focuses on migration and sexuality. Current research aims to examine the ways in which migration has an impact on Chinese migrant sex work in Taiwan, and how sexuality intersects with gender, class, nationality and global economic hierarchy in Taiwanese men’s sex tourism in China. 

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

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