A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf

This is an essay talking about women and fiction based on Virginia Woolf’s lecture in 1928. It shows me a deep insight of the struggles and invisible cages that professional women were facing through the history. I am glad that I am in a generation which awareness on sexual equality is raised, and though the issue still exist in the world, I haven’t experienced any serious obstructions that will affect my career or anything I want to do so far (credits to the city I was born) by my sexuality – except actually there’re some other things are in the way- the space.

Woolf talked about how important for a woman to have independent and interrupt-free space in both physical and mind, and that is why women need to have money and then to own a room of their own. I think this is true for all the mankind that create. Space and money is very important for artists. How to support myself to live and have time and space to keep painting, this is the problem I am facing, especially the high rents and limited space in Hong Kong that people are lucky if they have a decent size of space just for living.

In Hong Kong, living space, or land issue is frequently being brought out – political reasons behind the high rents, people spending their whole life to work and pay for their luxury tiny flat, poor people can only afford to live in cage houses or even worse, coffin homes/cubicles. Coffin home is like its name, the living space is a size of bed for £240 to £450 a month.

The Hong Kong government always implant the idea that Hong Kong’s house problem is because if overpopulation and land shortage. The saying of overpopulation actually shows how ridiculous the government is – on one hand they are saying Hong Kong is having overpopulation, on the other hand they gives Hong Kong residency to 150 new immigrants from mainland China every day, making Hong Kong over-overpopulated.

A kitchen-toilet complex in a cage home (by Benny Lam)
A Kitchen-toilet Complex in a Cage Home (by Benny Lam)
Coffin Home in Hong Kong

On the topic of land shortage, there is a non-profit organisation named Liber Research Community that undertake independent research with the development of Hong Kong. They took a research on the brown field (deserted rural land in the New Territories like container yards, car parks, recycling yards) in Hong Kong and discovered that there are plenties of brown fields that are suitable to develop for public housing, which the government ignored it before and rather promote on levelling hills and reclaiming land from the sea. This raised the awareness of the public and the government finally promised to conduct a survey on the distribution and use of all brownfield sites in Hong Kong. Liber Research Community act as the monitor of the policy-making process and conduct further research on brownfield sites.

There are many interruptions and blocks for professional women who work on creative career, but it seems not just women but everyone is having the same problems. It doesn’t matter to our sexuality, the source of resistance is the same for all mankind – or at least for the people in Hong Kong.


Further Reading

Liber Research Community on Brownfield Site Research

Boxed in: life inside the ‘coffin cubicles’ of Hong Kong – in pictures

Life Inside Hong Kong’s ‘Coffin Cubicles’

My week in Lucky House: the horror of Hong Kong’s coffin homes

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