Memos from Asia

Recent Developments in the Feminist Movement in China

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“Marriage is the only thing that makes a woman successful in life.”
“You cannot have careers and ambitions, and you cannot decide not to have children.”
“Even if you are as beautiful as a beauty pageant, you still think you are not perfect.”
“If you are raped, it must be your own problem.”

The above-mentioned problems have been going on for thousands of years since human civilization evolved from matrilineal society to patrilineal society, and they are likely to continue in the evolution of human civilization.

“Women Can Hold Up Half the Sky”

In China, “feminism” is a slightly politically sensitive term. So, the term “equality between men and women,” “Gender equality” are more commonly used. And the famous saying “Women can hold up half the sky” by Chairman Mao Zedong liberated millions of Chinese women from the original unfair and unequal prison.

Compared with the past, women in China have relatively equal political and economic status and opportunities. However, Chinese women have not been completely liberated from the culture, or, the traditional cultural ideology that has lasted for thousands of years.

Feminism: East VS West

On the streets of western countries, journalists road picking about the views or ideas of the feminist movement, some women may oppose or support, but basically, they have their own values and attitudes.

But for interviews with Chinese women, only the young generation in their 20s and 30s can be chosen to talk with, while the elderly people don’t care at all. Many of them are even accomplices of feudal thinking. And many young women, who don’t really understand the meaning of feminism, only use it as a talk show to complain for the society, parents, boyfriends, and bosses. After the talk, they are happy and relaxed, turned around, and go back into the familiar routine of life. Perhaps many of them will become mothers who used to teach themselves painstakingly in old age. When they were young, they were accustomed to hearing teachings such as “Give birth early and be a good wife.” After the role changes, they will pass these words on to the next generation.

“ME TOO” Infiltrates into China

Photo of a woman’s day rally, Not taken in China

In early October 2017, the New York Times exposed the sexual assault scandal of senior Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. On October 15, American actress Alyssa Milano wrote on Twitter: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

The feminist movement, which came to be known as the “Me Too Movement,” began to generate buzz on the Internet and on the streets, with many famous Hollywood actresses speaking out in support of the “Me Too” feminist movement.

This movement also came across the ocean and arrived on the other side of the world, China. Many people on Weibo (China’s local Twitter) expressing solidarity with this movement, and some prominent women chose to stand up and accuse those who had been abusers. But more people don’t know how to look at this issue. They don’t know or don’t understand how this event relates to anyone other than those who have been violated.

“Go to the Jail, Scumbag!”

China does not have the loud “me too” voice like western countries, China’s “me too” movement has been proceeding in a particularly vague manner. The small climax of the movement was after the rape conducted by an entrepreneur of JD.com, Richard Liu ( Liu Qiangdong ), and young female writer, Jiang Fangzhou disclosed on social media that she was sexually harassed by a male from upper-sets at dinner, but none of this has caused widespread and continuous discussion in society.

In the early morning of July 25, 2018, a woman exposed on Weibo that she had been sexually assaulted by Zhang Wen (the editor-in-chief of China News Weekly). Young female writer Jiang Fangzhou wrote in WeChat Moments “I have also been sexually harassed by this person, go to jail, scumbag” and recounted what happened。Zhang Wen issued a statement on Weibo at 8 pm on July 25, which mainly talked about the sexual behavior of both parties is based on voluntary. Zhang Wen described the woman’s occupation, age, and love history in detail, emphasizing that the woman had a history of interacting with married couples many times. Regarding the allegations from Jiang Fangzhou, he described: “Jiang Fangzhou, has been single and has made many boyfriends.”

The Biggest Roadblock

Beijing. Cramped female commuters on the Beijing Metro during rush hour

It seems that many Chinese women have a great deal of resentment towards their husbands, families, work, and pressure imposed by society, and this resentment is often mixed with complex emotions. On the one hand, dissatisfaction and resistance to their own situation; on the other hand, they are unable to change it with their own power.

Someone once said, “When the feminist movement arrives, Chinese women will be the first to betray the revolution.” In fact, as long as their husbands go back home on time, empty their shopping carts regularly, help with housework, and raise children and the elderly; As long as their bosses pay their wages on time, and do not reprimand and lay off employees at will, they can freely talk gossip with other colleagues at work. Then they will immediately choose to embrace their husbands, families, and societies. All of a sudden, those weird campaigns and slogans have been forgotten.”

The structural oppression brought about by patriarchal society is a mirror of feminism. Sexual harassment, domestic violence, menstrual shame, and equality at the workplace seem to be different things, but the common root is gender oppression, the lack of respect and equality for women.

There has also been discussion of the embarrassment of Chinese women: struggling between the two values of the traditional Confucian concept of returning to the family and the Western concept of self-first pursuit.

In fact, the struggle for women’s rights is most often narrowly perceived as a gender contradiction between women and men, but the truth is that women, taught by traditional conservative ideology, are the greatest enemy of the feminist movement in China.

Open the Door for the Next Generation

Beijing, China – February 24, 2012:After work, people are catch the subway, packed the entire aisle

Although complete equality is impossible to achieve, the degree of inequality can be changed. This change may take a long time, but we must take courageous steps to “open the door for the next generation.” Fortunately, more and more young generation of Chinese women has gradually realized that women’s right cannot be equalized by relying on patriarchy.

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