Preserving the Erased Decade of the Chinese Feminist Movement

Special Feminist

For young people in China, feminism has permeated every aspect of their social media experience. There is a plethora of media targeting young women, including talent shows, film, TV dramas and podcasts by and for women. Women - and the media written for them - seem to be the secret sauce for boosting page views and leveraging capital. A string of recent viral stories about domestic violence have dominated online debate. Feminist ideas continue to feature in these discussions, alongside the anger and anxieties of average women.

Despite the expansion of the pan-feminist community and the growing presence of women’s voices, little has improved when it comes to systematic gender discrimination and misogyny. Despite the #MeToo movement, there has been little progress on anti-sexual harassment protection mechanisms in universities and other public spaces, and those who have spoken out have yet to see justice. There is still a compulsory cooling off period before you can get a divorce, despite widespread opposition to the move. In 2020, China dropped three places to 106th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Difference Report. And a persistently gender-skewed birth ratio tells us that we still live in a patriarchal society.

What is hampering the feminist movement? The continued presence of misogyny and social stigma, intensified authoritarian controls over every aspect of our lives, as well as government censorship that silences the most active and outspoken. These things set hard limits on how creative and critical the feminist movement can be, and divide the women’s rights community..

The movement has become cut off from its own history, so that the new generation of online activists know nothing of events that took place more than 10 years ago. When we lose a coherent narrative and historical context, it’s much harder to pass on the experiences of our predecessors, to reflect on the past, and hold a vision for the future. It’s easy to lose sight of the main goal.

Yet activists remain the movement’s only hope of a breakthrough. So we are retelling the stories of the feminist movement here, laying bare its ideas and ideals, in the hope of empowering the future agents of change.

mimiyana signature —— Mimi Yana, Contributing Editor @ WHYNOT
Lü Pin

Lü Pin is a Chinese women’s rights activist and the founder of Feminist Voices. She is a gender studies scholar and commentator of current affairs. Lü has decided to remain in the United States after the police arrested the Feminist Five in China in 2015.

Liang Xiaomen

Liang Xiaomen, whose real name is Liang Xiaowen, is a Chinese youth women’s rights activist and lawyer. Liang participated in “Occupy the Men's Room” and “Shave Heads to Protest Gender Inequality in Education.”

#MeToo victim

A #MeToo victim, who bravely stepped forward to accuse a prominent public figure of sexual harassment. She actively engages in public discussions and involves in gender issues. With her digital influence, she connected and supported many other sexual harassment victims and survivors.

Zheng Churan

Zheng Churan, also known as Datu (literally Big Bunny), is a women’s activist in China and one of the Feminist Five arrested by the authorities. She has organized multiple street protests for women’s rights. Zheng was named one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2016.

Xiao Meili

Xiao Meili is a women’s rights activist in China. She has organized campaigns such as the Feminist Walk, Women’s Armpit Hair Competition, and Bloody Brides to advocate for women’s rights. Xiao is the founder of feminist blog “Youdian Tianyuan,” literally “Somewhat Countryside.”

Li Maizi

Li Maizi, whose real name is Li Tingting, is a women’s rights activist in China. Li is one of the Feminist Five. In 2015, she and her partner held a wedding in Beijing, hoping to promote the legalization of same-sex marriages in China.

A Leilei

A Leilei joined VaChina, a UK-based feminist group, in 2018. She is a long-time activist on women’s rights issues. She is also involved in activism against racial discrimination.

Qiqi

Qiqi is a youth women’s rights activist. Currently she is a student in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Qiqi started the #MeTooInChina on Weibo, and she also designed logo of the homonym “#MiTuinChina” (literally #RiceBunnyinChina).

I. THE UNFORGETTABLE HISTORY:
THEY WERE IN THE STREETS

Commentary

“We Must Identify the State as the Originator of Women’s Problems”: Feminist Voices and the Birth of the Young Feminist Activitist Group

A young group of women’s rights activists emerged in China around 2012, many of them college students. Using cutting-edge activist techniques like public performance art, they openly called for gender equality. A media-savvy crowd, they quickly began educating and connecting with the wider public on feminism and civil rights. Some of them are still active today: Xiao Meili, Zheng Churan, Liang Xiaomen, Li Maizi, Zhang Leilei, Zhu Xixi, and Xiong Jing, to name but a few. They are inspiring the next generation of activists both in China and in the diaspora.
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A Timeline of Feminism in China

2012
The “Occupy Men’s Room” campaign
The 'Occupy Men’s Room' campaign
In February 2012, women’s rights activists Li Maizi, Zheng Churan, and others organized the first “Occupy Men’s Room” campaign in a free public restroom by Yuexiu Park in Guangzhou. The activists entered the men’s room multiple times and drove the men away while inviting women waiting in the long line for the women’s restroom to use the men’s. They also displayed posters that read, “The ‘easier’ it is for women to use public bathrooms, the more gender equality we enjoy” and “If you love her, don’t let her wait!” The activists called for resolutions to such issues as the disproportional number of men’s and women’s toilet stalls and the long wait time for public women’s restrooms. They suggested increasing the number of toilet stalls in women’s restrooms and establishing unisex restrooms.
Zheng Churan calls for the elimination of gender restrictions in hiring policies in her letters to China’s top 500 businesses
Zheng Churan calls for the elimination of gender restrictions in hiring policies in her letters to China’s top 500 businesses
Zheng Churan, then a senior at Sun Yat-sen University, rode her bike with 500 advocacy letters to the post office on campus. In her letters to the CEOs of China’s top 500 businesses, she suggested the companies eliminate the gender restrictions in their hiring policies. She also called for the businesses to publish equality statements on their employment policies and to address the unfair demands and limitations on female applicants when recruiting college graduates. Zheng Churan has also organized several campaigns against gender discrimination in the workplace, including inviting the head of the Guangdong Department of Human Resources and Social Security to a walk through a street market and filing complaints against hiring announcements that contained gender discriminating requirements.
“I may look hot, but you shall not harass me”
'I may look hot, but you shall not harass me'
On Jun. 20, 2012, the official account of the Shanghai Metro Line 2 posted a picture on Sina Weibo of a woman in a semi-transparent dress, with the caption: “If you wear something like this, you are sure to be harassed. Ma’am, please respect yourself!” The post caused a backlash online, especially by feminist activists. On Jun. 24, 2012, Chen Xiangqi planned and held a performance art play on Shanghai Metro Line 2 with another volunteer to protest sexual harassment. One of them donned a black robe while the other wore a metal “breast piece.” The pair held signs that read, “I want my coolness but not the sexual offenses” and “I may look hot, but you shall not harass me.” These slogans soon trended online and attracted significant public discussion.
Activists rally to support Kim Lee’s fight against domestic violence
Activists rally to support Kim Lee’s fight against domestic violence
On Aug. 31, 2011, Kim Lee, the wife of Crazy English founder Li Yang, posted images of injuries she sustained from domestic violence. She filed for divorce in October of the same year. The domestic violence case attracted media attention and online discussion. Several women’s rights activists and anti-domestic violence volunteers gathered in front of the court to show support for Kim Lee before the third hearing on Aug. 9, 2012. They delivered a scroll containing 1,000 signatures garnered online against domestic violence, and they asked Kim Lee to deliver “A Joint Letter to the Judge on the Stance against Domestic Violence.” The supporters also sang a parody of “Too Precious to be Hurt” after the hearing to call for a fair ruling by the court.
Activists shave their heads to protest gender inequality in college entrance exams
Activists shave their heads to protest gender inequality in college entrance exams
Colleges and universities announced National Higher Education Entrance Examination (Gaokao) scoring lines for admissions in early July 2012. The media noted that many colleges and universities have different minimum score requirements for male and female students, with a higher score for females, sometimes with a gap as wide as 40 points. As reports of this disparity became widely known, public concerns and protests arose. Four women’s rights activists, Xiao Meili, Liang Xiaomen, Li Maizi, and Ouyang Le, shaved their heads at the foot of Guangzhou Pagoda in a performance art exhibit to express their concern about gender inequality in higher education. They also penned a joint letter to the Ministry of Education that called for the ministry to promptly address gender discrimination in college entrance exams.
Online nude picture protest call for anti-domestic violence legislature
Online nude picture protest call for anti-domestic violence legislature
On Nov. 7, 2012, many women’s rights groups and public interest groups collaborated to launch a “Ten Thousand Signatures for Domestic Violence Law” campaign via different online channels and platforms. To maintain continued interest in the campaign and attract more participants for signatures, Xiao Meili and other women’s rights activists posted semi-nude pictures on Sina Weibo, calling for more to sign the petition. Xiao, whose hair just regrew a couple inches from the hair-shaving protest in August of the same year, wore bright red clothes and posed topless in front of an all-white background. “Shame on domestic violence and glory on the flat chest” were written with a black marker on her bare chest. 15 more people including men, women, and transgender individuals posted their nude or half-nude pictures on Sina Weibo to promote the campaign. Based in different cities, these voluntary participants took action to support women’s rights.
Protest calls for the abolishment of the gynecological exam requirement in government agency’s hiring policy
Protest calls for the abolishment of the gynecological exam requirement in government agency’s hiring policy
As the annual national civil servant exam came to an end, more than 10 women’s rights activists in Wuhan, Hubei rallied in front of the Department of Human Resources and Social Security of Hubei Province to protest the gynecological exam requirement in the civil servant employment policy. The protesters held signs that read, “You don’t need a gynecological exam to become a civil servant” and “What’s menstrual history got to do with civil service?” Some of the activists wore pants that bore the characters for “no gynecological exams for civil servants.” In the rally, they also sang a self-composed song, “Free from Physical Exams.”
The “Bloody Brides” anti-domestic violence protests
The 'Bloody Brides' anti-domestic violence protests
Dec. 10 is Human Rights Day across the globe. In Beijing, Guangdong, and 11 other cities, more than 20 women’s rights activists held a performance arts demonstration named “The Bloody Brides.” They also submitted requests for government public information to their local police stations: what have you done to address domestic violence? Women’s activists Xiao Meili, Li Maizi, and Xiong Jing dressed themselves in bloodied wedding gowns as “Bllody Brides” on Valentine’s Day the following year to walk along the pedestrian street of Beijing’s Qianmen, while volunteers handed out anti-violence flyers to onlookers.
2013
Flash mob performance of “A Homophobe Killed the Lesbians“
Flash mob performance of 'A Homophobe Killed the Lesbians'
To commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, some activists organized a flash mob at Beijing’s Yinding Bridge in Houhai and Metro Line 6. In the performance, three pairs of women kissed each other in public, and a male passerby yelled, “Die, homosexuals!“ The women were frightened and collapsed. The red signs on their bodies read, “A Homophobe Killed the Lesbians.“ Xiao Hang, who organized the event, hoped that the public could understand homosexuals better and stop discriminating against them. She specifically used “lesbians“ in the play because lesbians were relatively more neglected than gay men.
Protest against Meituan’s firing of a pregnant employee
Protest against Meituan’s firing of a pregnant employee
On Jun. 18, 2013, several Chinese women’s rights activists including Xiao Meili, Li Maizi, and Xiong Jing rallied outside of Meituan for a protest. They dressed themselves as pregnant cooks, doctors, nurses, and women in other professions to support the Meituan employee fired over her pregnancy. The firing incident caused heated discussions online. Bao Yating was hired in May 2011 as Media Director for Meituan Network. When she was three months pregnant, the company notified her that her employment contract had been terminated without any conditions.
“Meili’s Stride for Women’s Rights”
'Meili’s Stride for Women’s Rights'
Then-24-year-old women’s rights activist Xiao Meili launched an anti-sexual assault campaign called “Meili’s Stride for Women’s Rights.” She departed Beijing in mid-September, passing through Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, and other cities, before finally reaching Guangdong 114 days later. Xiao trekked through six provinces and traveled over 2,500 kilometers. Her objective for this walk was loud and clear: “Women must be free from sexual assault.” During her walk, she submitted letters providing suggestions and applications for government public information to local departments of education, urging the authorities to take concrete measures to prevent sexual assaults on campuses. In total, she sent 165 letters and submitted 165 applications. She received interviews, hosted sharing sessions, and collected signatures during her walk to call for broader public awareness and participation.
2015
Global support for the Feminist Five detained by the government
Global support for the Feminist Five detained by the government
On the eve of International Women’s Day 2015, Wang Man, Mai Tingting, Zheng Churan, Li Tingting (Li Maizi), and Wu Rongrong, who were planning a public advocacy event to fight against sexual harassment on buses that day, were arrested by police in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Beijing. The five were detained with the criminal charge of “looking to pick a quarrel” for 37 days. More than 300 civil society groups worldwide issued statements demanding the release of the Feminist Five. In London, Seattle, New York, Seoul, Tokyo, Hongkong, and New Delhi, people rallied for their release. In China, many signed a petition for their release, while some rallied outside of the detention centers.
Qiubai files three lawsuits against the Ministry of Education for homophobic content
Qiubai files three lawsuits against the Ministry of Education for homophobic content
Qiubai, a then-undergraduate at Sun Yet-sen University in Guangdong, discovered many materials in the university library that labeled homosexuality as a mental disease. Based on the concern that such material may mislead homosexuals in the self-identity stage, Qiubai and more than a dozen classmates filed complaints to the State Press and Publication Administration and the Department of Education of Guangdong. She also held posters outside of the Guangdong Department of Education to raise awareness in the department and the public. Later, Qiubai sued the Guangdong Higher Education Press. After her appeal was rejected, she tried to hold the Ministry of Education accountable. She sued the ministry three times for administrative inaction, but eventually the court did not rule in her favor.
Li Maizi’s lesbian wedding ceremony
Li Maizi’s lesbian wedding ceremony
Encouraged by the legalization of same sex marriage in the United States, women’s rights activist Li Maizi and her partner Xiao La decided to hold a wedding of their own. They hoped the event would promote recognition of same sex marriage in China. The wedding did not boast luxury cars, nor were there complicated rituals or fancy wedding gowns. Gift money was not accepted, and the guests paid for their own meals. The venue was decorated moments before the ceremony by the friends who came to celebrate: some rainbow flags, a few photo posters of the couple, and an eye-catching sign that said, “Freedom for Women’s Rights, a Woman and a Woman Want to Get Married.”
2016
Crowdfunded “Anti-Forced Marriages” advertisement campaign launches
Crowdfunded 'Anti-Forced Marriages' advertisement campaign launches
The “Anti-Forced Marriage Alliance” was formed by a small group of young singles online who advocated for autonomy in marriage decisions. Many of the members had sustained pressure from their parents urging them to get married. At a time when ads by online dating services such as Baihe.com were prevalent, the core members of the “Anti-Forced Marriages Alliance” developed an “Anti-Forced Marriages” advertisement campaign to respond to those dating ads and to provide a different perspective for the public. The group successfully raised 38,000 RMB through crowdfunding to pay for a lightbox ad. The advertisement campaign finally made it into the busy Beijing Dongzhimen Subway Station.
“Celebrate 3/8 Women’s Day, Not 3/7 Girls’ Day”
'Celebrate 3/8 Women’s Day, Not 3/7 Girls’ Day'
On the eve of International Women’s Day, the “Celebrate 3/8 Women’s Day, Not 3/7 Girls’ Day” social media movement was launched by famous journalist and women’s rights activist Li Sipan and Guangzhou New Media Women’s Network, a gender equality advocacy organization on Sina Weibo and other Chinese social media platforms. The purpose of the campaign was to take a stance from the feminist perspective against the stigmatization of the term “women” (with the nuance of being older). It also aimed to counter the trend on Weibo targeting young women to promote “3/7 Girls’ Day” sales that subsequently led to their refusal to celebrate Women’s Day. The movement received support from feminist activists who held signs that read, “Celebrate 3/8 Women’s Day, Not 3/7 Girls’ Day” and other slogans demanding gender equality at rallies around China.
2017年
Zhang Leilei sends letters to NPC deputies calling for the establishment of an anti-sexual harassment mechanism
Zhang Leilei sends letters to NPC deputies calling for the establishment of an anti-sexual harassment mechanism
Women’s rights activist Zhang Leilei sent 325 “Recommendation Letters to the NPC Deputies Regarding Anti-Sexual Harassments on Public Transportation” on the eve of the Two Sessions. She hoped that the NPC deputies would propose a bill to establish a mechanism that prevents and deters sexual harassment on public transportation. This was the third year in a row that women’s rights activists sent out similar letters to NPC deputies during the Two Sessions. Subsequently in 2018, Zhu Xixi, another women’s rights activist, took up the task and sent her recommendation letters to NPC deputies.
A walking billboard for anti-sexual harassment
A walking billboard for anti-sexual harassment
Women’s rights activists started a crowdfunding project for an anti-sexual harassment advertisement around March 2016. They raised 40,000 RMB in one and a half months. However, the idea was passed round, avoided, and rejected by relevant agencies and departments, and eventually the advertisement was not launched. Having no alternatives left, Zhang Leilei decided to promote awareness through a walking billboard. She carried this billboard every day for one month, and she invited 100 people to join her and carry a billboard. The 100 spots were quickly claimed online by users from various locations around China. Then many people shared images of them carrying the billboard around in different places.
2018
#MeTooinChina
#MeTooinChina
On Jan. 1, 2018, Luo Xixi, a graduate of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ doctoral program, reported that Professor Chen Xiaowu sexually harassed her in 2012 while she was a doctoral student in the program and that Chen had sexually harassed several of his female students. Her complaint was a catalyst for the #MeToo movement in the new year, bringing many women from academia, public interest charity groups, and religious organizations to come forward. Alumni from a few dozen colleges and universities issued joint or public letters to ask their alma maters to establish mechanisms to curtail sexual harassment on campuses. However, after the case of Zhu Jun came to light, the #MeTooinChina movement was heavily suppressed when it collided with the great powers within the system. Several #MeToo victims were sued by their alleged attackers for defamation. Women’s rights activists and #MeToo martyrs worked non-stop to support and advocate for the victims while expanding the line of support overseas.
Protests over the banning of Feminist Voices accounts
Protests over the banning of Feminist Voices accounts

On Mar. 9, 2018, the Sina Weibo account and the WeChat public account of the largest private feminism awareness platform, Feminist Voices, were permanently banned. Before the shutdown, the former had 180,000 followers, while the latter had 70,000. In order to have the accounts reinstated, the staff members advocated for their rights in many ways. Many online users voiced their support, but they were silenced by the social media platforms. On Mar. 16, the seventh day since the ban, several women’s rights activists hosted a “funeral” for the Feminist Voices in some rubble near a cemetery on the outskirts of Beijing. They called the performance art activism “On the seventh day of mourning, we danced on the grave of Feminist Voices.”
Supporting Liu Jinyao in online debates
Supporting Liu Jinyao in online debates
In early September 2018, JD.com CEO Liu Qiangdong was arrested in Minnesota for sexually assaulting a female college student, causing an uproar online. Four months after the district attorney decided not to file criminal charges against Liu Qiangdong, the victim Liu Jingyao filed a civil lawsuit against Liu Qiangdong. The move attracted a significant number of attacks and victim shaming on Chinese social media platforms. Women’s rights activists and volunteers started a hashtag #HereforJingyao in an online petition, and this initiative collected more than 1,000 signatures. The women’s rights activists also started a #Iamnotaperfectvictim self-narrative movement, calling for more victims to share publicly about their experiences, breaking the myth about rate and the stereotype about the victims.
“#MeToo in China” exhibit
'#MeToo in China' exhibit
To commemorate and empower #MeTooInChina, beginning in July 2018, the “#MeToo in China” exhibit toured Beijing, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. However, it was forced to a halt twice. Finally, the exhibit made it to New York. The exhibit was organized by a group of feminist activists and volunteers in China and abroad in just over half a month. The exhibit displayed items curated and exhibited in China – the victim’s narratives, short videos of the victims, items from the victims, the seven MiTu cases, the printout of the MiTu logo, the chronicle of anti-sexual harassments in China, and the national movement that called for Lei Chuang to voluntarily surrender to the police. What is more, “Resisters Unite!”, a record detailing how Chinese women’s rights activists were suppressed inside and outside of the system, was added to the exhibit.

II. WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM NEXT ?

The detention of five Chinese feminists in 2015 as they planned an anti-sexual harassment campaign was a huge blow to the movement. Li Maizi, Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting, Wang Man, and Zheng Churan were held for several weeks on suspicion of picking quarrels and stirring up trouble on Mar. 6, two days ahead of International Women’s Day, and released on bail with conditions that set further limits on their freedom.

In 2018, Beihang University fired a professor, Chen Xiaowu, after he was publicly accused by his former PhD student Luo Xixi on social media of sexual harassment and assault. Luo’s #MeToo whistleblowing was among the first to make headline news in China, and Chen’s dismissal represented an initial victory for Chinese women.

The #MeToo, or Rice Rabbit, movement has since spread at an unprecedented rate, with women’s stories of sexual harassment and assault fueling public debate and pointing institutions in the direction of change. But the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s army of censors wasn’t far behind. #MeToo content continues to be deleted as soon as it is posted.

Meanwhile, a landmark sexual harassment case involving a popular Chinese state-run TV personality and a former intern who was inspired by the #MeToo hashtag campaign and the victims of Harvey Weinstein remains mired in uncertainty amid an ongoing crackdown on the feminist movement in China.

Former TV intern Zhou Xiaoxuan, who is now 28, went viral on Chinese social media in 2018 after she wrote a long account of her alleged sexual harassment by Zhu Jun in a dressing room during her internship at state-run CCTV in 2014. But a lawsuit she brought stalled, with Zhu not even turning up to defend himself in court.

While #MeToo has swelled the ranks of online activists, who have a range of social media tools at their fingertips, the CCP is increasingly using armies of pro-government trolls to stage an online backlash.

The torrent of online abuse from government-backed anti-feminists is also dividing the feminist movement, with individuals left feeling isolated and confused by the onslaught.

Commentary

Feminism in China after #MeToo

Xiao Meili, an activist continuously involved in the Young Feminist Activist Group since the early days, is an expert in using artistic creations to get involved in feminist issues. After #MeToo began, she ran a down-to-earth feminist podcast called “A Little Pastoral” and actively participated in local feminist activities. From the perspective of an activist, she recalled the achievements and difficulties of the #MeToo movement and the feminist activists in the post-#MeToo era.
Xiao Meili discusses the heavy blow to feminist activists and the feminist movement after the Feminist Five incident in 2015, and how it subsequently established the basis of all women’s rights actions, and even helped launch the #MeToo movement. Li Maizi, who suffered in prison as one of the Feminist Five, more than anyone can understand Xiao Meili’s difficult but exciting growth as a feminist activist.
Narrative

Li Maizi’s Honest Spoken Account: “I have not committed a crime. Feminism is innocent.”

In the 37 days she spent in a detention center as one of the Feminist Five, Li Maizi saw a multitude of life extremes, and became more convinced of her feminist ideals. In this personal oral history, Li Maizi recounted her life’s journey along the way and restored the image of an optimistic and fearless actor. Let us gain a new understanding of this historical calamity through her personal perspective.
Li Maizi deepened her understanding of feminism through her own experiences. While under persecution, she shouted “Feminism is innocent.” This sense of justice forms the support of their continuous struggle. Zheng Churan, also one of the Feminist Five, also armed herself with the weapon of law to tenaciously resist when she was dragged through the mud by well-known social media accounts. After losing cases twice, she developed a new understanding of the plight of the feminist movement.
Commentary

The Story of a Doomed Lawsuit

In March 2018, a blog called CoolLabs published two posts on WeChat and Weibo claiming that Zheng Churan and Feminist Voices were behind an international prostitution racket. Zheng filed a lawsuit. She writes about her disenchantment with the idea of using legal channels to fight for women’s rights after this case was dismissed on a technicality.
Zheng writes about court-based injustice as an example of social injustice. Structural oppression encourages the growth of a wilder form of online feminism that is beginning to take root in mainstream culture.
In-Depth Report

Fault Lines in the Movement: The Challenge of the Little Pinks

After the decentralization of the feminist movement, the pan-feminism found on social media formed a new ecology while the context of the early years of activism was not widely known to most people. Behind popular discourses and labels such as “punching,” “anti-marriage and anti-having children,” “married donkeys,” “maternal rights,” “equality fairies” and “pink feminists” conceal the situation and resistance philosophy of the new generation of pan-feminism. When feminism sinks down enough, will it remain unchanged?
A divided movement has proven to be easy pickings for the CCP’s anti-feminist troll army. Lü Pin takes her analytic knife to the body of the gender wars.
Commentary

Backlash: How Victim Blaming and Gender Wars are Poisoning the Feminist Movement

As an early leader of the feminist activist group, Lü Pin is one of the sharpest observers and commentators of today’s feminist movement. After suffering from recent incidents of domestic violence, Ma Jinyu encountered numerous accusations directed towards victims, causing her deep distress. She faced the most difficult to discuss issues in the community and analyzed how the entire environment of violence limits and poisons feminists, making communities break away from their agendas to turn against victims and their supporters.
Under attack from anti-feminist powers within and outside the system, today’s feminist community is facing many problems, but Lü Pin and a group of fellow activists living in outside of China are still looking for ways to help China’s feminist movement using the methods within their reach.
In-depth Report

Rebirth After Catastrophe: Feminist Activists set up Overseas Battlefields

Under continuous domestic political pressure, the Chinese feminist community overseas has brought new possibilities. Through continuous activities and contacts, transnational actors have influenced and connected overseas students and overseas Chinese communities, expanded the front of the feminist movement, and nurtured a new generation of feminists. We talk to them about whether it’s possible to build a movement in exile.

Where are the Seven Chinese #MeToo Cases That Went to Courts Now?

III. TAPPING AREAS OF FUTURE POTENTIAL

Since the birth of Feminist Voices in 2011, women’s rights activists have undergone a tortuous decade-long journey on the road to equality. Like seeds scattered in the wind, weathering harsh conditions, they are nonetheless still everywhere. Click on their images to hear them speak.
We have to accept the fact that we don’t know what the future will bring, nor where the main potential lies.
I don’t want to say that this environment is too toxic, because I’d have to stay away, and that would mean not taking up that space any more.
I am looking forward to learning new things as part of this movement. I just hope I can keep up with it.
I hope that feminism in the future will be a core state policy in China. That is my dream, as an idealist.
I want women’s lives, their statuses and their situations to improve.
I want everyone around me to have the chance to develop. When people develop sustainably, so does the movement.
As feminists, we must practice self-care, so that we can continue to fight in the long-term.
All women and feminists who stand up and speak up against gender-based violence can have their own identities.
Stay calm and stay angry. At least make sure this damn world goes backwards a bit more slowly.
I hope we outlive the patriarchy and authoritarianism, and see the day when reforms happen and we make progress.

New York, London, Chengdu, Beijing, Vancouver. For the first time, WHYNOT is connecting Chinese feminists everywhere, weaving the broken threads of the movement together across time and space.

So feminists will see how big the community has grown, and learn about its long and proud history.

So we know that we are not alone.

As Lü Pin puts it: “Feminism is an unwelcome awakening in an era of totalitarian power.”

This group of young activists have put body, heart and soul into their advocacy for Chinese women and other marginalized groups. In return, they have gotten hardship, displacement and misunderstanding.

We feel fortunate to tell their stories.

credits

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Mimi Yana

EDITOR Rosa Ng

FEATURE WRITERS Mimi Yana, Esther Niu, Angelica S.

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Lü Pin, Zheng Churan, Xiao Meili, Zi

VIDEO PRODUCTION Andy Wang, Valeria Chen

PHOTO & VIDEO Beimeng Fu, Yue Wu, Andy Wang, Valeria Chen

ART DIRECTION Chris Wong

ILLUSTRATION Quai Chan

DESIGN Regina Li, 田园

TRANSLATION Luisetta Mudie, Timothy Ditter, Min Eu

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alex Zhang

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Min Mitchell

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