Zenobia Chan


This paper describes my roles as a housewife, previously, and a doctoral student, currently. It examines crossing the border from the family domain to the university domain from a gender perspective. When I was a housewife, I was stigmatised by society and without any prospects. As a doctoral student, I am considered a worthy woman and my life has been romanticized. The analogy of cooking soup represents my life as a housewife, while writing papers represents my life as a doctoral student. Describing this dramatic transition from seven years as a soup-cooking housewife, to a third-year, paper-writing, doctoral candidate, I will explore two major aspects - both from a gender perspective: (1) What do cooking soup and writing papers mean to a housewife in Chinese culture? (2) How do I experience my new role as a doctoral student, compared to my role as a housewife? Following this discussion, I call for a deconstruction of the femininity of cooking soup and the masculinity of writing papers. The paper closes with an attempt to empower housewives to challenge the dominant discourse that defines a woman as useful or useless in contemporary society.