Feminism in China has been a long, continuous battle that has lasted for centuries, and the movement continues to gain momentum today, despite obstacles. Modern Chinese feminists look to increase gender equality in the workplace, tackle harmful gender stereotypes, and fight against domestic violence.
While feminist voices in China are looking to make a change and tackle women’s issues by amplifying and sharing their voices online, they seem to be facing a significant challenge: Overcoming censorship. Postings regarding feminist activism are difficult to access and don’t show up when searched for in Chinese search engines, according to an article by The Miscellany News.
Lü Pin, a founding editor of Feminist Voices, experienced this censorship firsthand in 2018. Feminist Voices was a social media account that had garnered 180,000 followers that got banned from multiple platforms on International Women’s Day in 2018. The account addressed a number of issues including sexual harassment, domestic violence, and gender discrimination.
Pin told The Miscellany News that “feminism is a highly controversial topic in China,” since many view it as a radical Western ideology threatening East Asian culture based upon family and tradition. Authorities justified the shutdown of feminist accounts and posts online by arguing that these activists want to disrupt social order.
The birth rate in China has slowed despite the government easing its one-child policy, a result of the increasing number of educated single females choosing to delay marriage and childbearing in order to build their careers. In May, China announced that it will allow up to three children after a major decline in birth rates. However, this is not expected to dramatically impact the decision of many women to wait to have children.
The government has taken a family-centered approach to increase the birth rate, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping emphasizing the importance of motherhood during his International Women’s Day speech: “Without women, there would be no continuity of the human race or human society,” he said.
Human rights organization Amnesty International discussed how despite the change in the one-child policy, it is still a violation of sexual and reproductive rights. “Governments have no business regulating how many children people have. Rather than ‘optimizing’ its birth policy, China should instead respect people’s life choices and end any invasive and punitive controls over people’s family planning decisions,” said the group’s China team head Joshua Rosenzweig to BBC News.
Feminist leaders in China persist with their goals and refuse to be silenced despite censorship attempts. According to the South China Morning Post, censoring feminist groups online “over ‘extremism’ has backfired and led to greater visibility for radical feminism”. Despite challenges facing feminist activists, passionate youth activists have invigorated the movement, especially amongst students.
Photo by Edward Xu via Unsplash.