Summary of our project.
According to the Mother’s Choice, there are 6,880 crisis pregnancies each year in Hong Kong. Nearly 60% are unwed females, the majority of whom are under 25 years old. However, even though it is a common issue, it is still a sensitive issue among Hong Kong people. Unmarried pregnant women are not only facing tremendous public opinion pressure, but they are also facing the difficulties in getting help. Since mainstream media do not discuss much of unmarried pregnancy, there are very few ways for these women to access related information. Thus, online social media has become the most convenient way for the unmarried pregnancy to seek help. However, do social media really help the unmarried pregnant women in ways of promoting a better image of them and providing effective support; or do they merely serve as another channel to sustain and reinforce the idea of patriarchy of Chinese society?
Therefore, we would like to investigate the following questions.
How do online forums represent the issue of unmarried pregnancy?
Is that information on social media can really help unmarried pregnant woman? Or they just reinforce the idea of patriarchy?
How do the online forums reinforcing the idea of patriarchy?
We were managed to interview successfully with two women, one of them chose to give birth to the baby at the end, while the other chose to have an abortion. On one hand, we think this is a good combination of interviewees as the two have adopted different approaches when facing the fact that they got pregnant at a young age before marriage. On the other hand, as we only got two interviewees, in order to have a more-rounded investigation, we decided to interview two more people so as to gather more perspectives from different parties, such as the opposite sex and young women who are not pregnant before marriage.
As we wanted to investigate whether the appearance of social media has added weight to the number of ways people receive information on sexuality issues, in this regard, women on gaining information and responses on getting pregnant before marriage, we selected online forums as our context of our investigation. In the interviews, we asked the interviewees whether they had ever browsed any online forums and came across information on sexuality issues about pre-wed pregnancy.
Thus, we speculated all of them had and conducted an observation on three online forums, they are “BeautyExchange”, “BabyKindom” and “MammyDaddy”. We chose to study about these three online forums, it is because these forums are well-known among the Hong Kong online forums, and most of the posts of these forums are talking about the issues on relationship, parenting and so-on, which highly related to our study.
Therefore, it turns out that although we found forums have identified our assumption that social media does sustain and manifest the negative representation of pre-wed pregnant women, there is indeed another form of social media which in fact adopts a different way to positively represent them.
From our study, we think that we are no longer receive information in a passive way with the development of the internet, as we can participate in generating new information or comment and interact with other in an active way. Online social media is then become a new platform for people to carry out discussion and for people especially unmarried mothers to seek advice.
To our research finding, we found that the online forum have its own powerful influence when it comes to perpetuating sexual ideology and patriarchal values. For example, from our observation on those three online forums, most people tend to have negative opinions towards the unmarried pregnant teenager, such as blaming them for having the unexpected pregnancy due to her carelessness and indecision in preventive measures. Also, they tend to think unmarried pregnant teenagers are indecent and having not enough ability to raise a baby on her own. If they decided to give up the baby, they would still be being blamed for killing a life.
Our interview also supports these ideas as the two unmarried pregnant teenagers claimed that they were the victims as being blamed and affecting their decision making. While the other two are having doubt about these unmarried pregnant teenager which do not look good on their situation.
Therefore, we don’t think social media is a good platform for sexual education and information. Since there are too many comment and idea on these social media, which may put an extra pressure on those unmarried pregnant teenagers, such as blaming them for a so call incorrect action. Also, these comment or opinions would affect their emotion and how they think themselves, which may cause a long-term impact on the mental health. At the same time, these social media seem reinforcing the idea that pregnancy is the responsibility of women as they may focus on the women only but omitted that the men should take part of the responsibility. So, even though there may be some useful information and suggestions in the Internet, but likes what had mentioned from the study of the Hong Kong Playground Association, there may be full of danger and distorted sexual information, which it is necessary for us to identify them and use it more carefully, in order to avoid a secondary victimization to the interested party and ourselves.
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