The World Needs to Hear China’s Feminist Voices

September 11, 2017

 

Not long ago Séagh told me that they wanted to set up an English-language website on Chinese feminism and invited me to write this piece. I felt really honoured. I have had the idea of building a website like this for a long time. I never thought that Séagh happened to be thinking the very same thing. 

 

Looking back at the story so far, I have been just a tiny part in the vast tides of Chinese feminist movements. In 2012, we started promoting feminism in China using activist methods. At that time we worked with the media to launch a series of feminist actions such as 'Bloody Brides', 'Occupy Men’s’ Toilets’ 'Bald Girls Oppose Student Enrolment Discrimination’. We also showed our solidarity outside the court rooms with women who had experienced domestic violence and so on.

 

Our activities went well and were met with a lot of interest. We were the stars of mainstream media. Through our actions, the country’s female toilets started receiving expansions. In 2016 authorities issued the new “Public Toilet Design Standards,” affirming the hard work of feminists. In 2013 Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing Language and Culture University, and Beijing Second Foreign Language University equalised admission criteria for male and female students across a number of language courses. Before this, men could enter those courses with lower marks than women. When these three universities were making this announcement, they also admitted the former policy demonstrated suspected gender discrimination. Between 2012 and 2013, we showed solidarity outside the courtroom with Kim Lee, who had experienced domestic violence multiple times. In the end domestic violence was written into the divorce judgment.

 

However in 2015 the Feminist Five were detained and this led to a very difficult time for the feminist movement in China. Firstly, our actions had been completely politicised and became politically sensitive. Secondly, the Chinese economy was rapidly developing and gender issues had become increasingly unimportant. Thirdly the whole political environment was tightening up and an unprecedented increase in law enforcement power was also taking place.

 

Under such circumstances, the forms of activism we had used before were no longer viable. We had no way of continuing those previous forms of feminist street actions on a large-scale. Instead, we adopted online action and a few small-scale offline actions to expand our activities.

 

However, the Feminist Five incident was also a turning point. For one, it was the first time that the world noticed that China had feminist activism. Secondly, a young generation of Chinese feminists had emerged, gone out onto the international stage, and smashed the Mao-era imaginings that global society had had of Chinese feminism. Thirdly, Chinese feminists began paying attention to topics of discussion about feminism across the world; they were no longer isolated within the context of China and were now working to build up sisterhood between feminists of every country.

 

As such, the Feminist Five received the sustained attention of foreign media. We used our actions to maintain solidarity with the whole world; opposing sexual assault in the United States, supporting the pro-choice movement in Ireland, opposing Trump’s misogyny and so on.

 

So, our difficulty lies in the increasing domestic restrictions of the activism approach, which causes activism to become completely impossible in China. Activism is a global form of advocacy, but this form of common language is disappearing for us in China right now. What is replacing it is a feminist activism with distinct Chinese characteristics. It is much more difficult for international audiences to understand and keep up with compared to activism like that of the 'Bloody Brides' and 'Occupy Men’s Toilets'.

 

The obstructions we are facing right now are not only language barriers, but also the government’s Firewall and the difference between political systems domestically and overseas. If we want to overcome these obstacles, we need to link our domestic feminist activism more closely with those in the English-speaking world.

 

We need something that is both timely and accurate in order to maintain these kinds of connections with the world and ensure global awareness of China’s feminist movement. Moreover, we need something that allows us to seek co-operation and advance the possibilities of sisterhood.

 

For these reasons, I think this website is just that kind of initiative. This website can be an important base for connecting feminists in China and those around the globe. It can let Chinese feminist voices be heard throughout the world. Understanding the current situation of China’s feminist activism is where the change begins. (Translated by Séagh Kehoe and Luoluo).

Li Maizi is an activist for women's and LGBTQIA+ rights in the People's Republic of China. She was one of the Feminist Five who was detained on the eve of International Women's Day in 2015. She tweets @LiMaizi.

世界需要中国的女权之声

 

Séagh在前不久告诉我,要建立一个中国女权主义的英文资讯网站,邀请我写这篇文章,我感到非常的荣幸。首先,想建立这样一个网站的想法由来已久,没想到Séagh就这么和我不谋而合了。

 

纵向来说,我只是滚滚浪潮的女权运动中的小小一员,2012年开始以行动主义的方式开展女权行动,那时候我们和媒体结合,发动了受伤的新娘,占领男厕所,光头姐反对高考招生歧视,法庭外声援受家暴妇女等一系列的女权行动。

 

活动开展的风风火火,我们是主流媒体的宠儿,通过我们的行动,全国范围内的女厕所开始扩建,2016年出台了新的《公共厕所设计标准》,政策层面肯定了女权行动派的努力。2013年,北京语言大学,北京外国语大学和北京第二外国语大学的小语种专业取消双重分数线录取,在这之前男性可以以比女性低的分数进入小语种专业。这三所大学发表看法的同时,承认之前的做法涉嫌性别歧视。2012年-2013年,我们多次在法庭外声援KIM,最终离婚判决把家暴写进了判决书。

 

但是,2015年女权五姐妹被捕,让中国的女权运动面临非常艰难的处境。第一,我们的行动全面被政治化,敏感化。第二,中国的经济腾飞,性别问题变得更加不重要。第三,整个政治环境收紧,警察权力空前加强。

 

在这样的情况下,以前的行动主义的方式已经行不通了,我们无法大规模的重复过去的女权街头行动,而是更多的采用了线上行动和一些小范围的线下活动的方式来开展活动。

 

但是,女权五姐妹事件也是一个契机。第一,它第一次让全世界认识到了中国是有行动主义女权主义者的。第二,年轻一代的中国女权主义者站出来,走向国际舞台,打破国际社会对于中国女权运动的毛时代想象。第三,中国女权主义者开始关注全球的妇女议题,不再被割裂在中国语境之内,夯实了和各国女权主义者的姐妹情谊。

 

因此,女权五姐妹获得了外媒的持续关注,我们用自己的行动来和全世界的保持团结,反对美国性侵害,支持爱尔兰堕胎自主权和反对川普的厌女症等等。

 

因此,我们的困境在于,国内的行动进一步受限,行动主义的方式已经无法运作。行动主义作为一种全球的倡导方式,这样的共同语言正在消失,取而代之的是更加具有中国特色的女权活动,比起受伤的新娘,占领男厕所这些行动而言,很难被国际的关注者及时的了解和跟进。

 

因为我们现在的障碍不仅仅是语言的障碍,还有政府防火墙的障碍以及不同的政治体制的障碍。想要跨越这些障碍,我们就需要把国内的女权主义行动和英语世界紧密的结合起来。

 

我们需要及时的,准确的维持这样一个和世界的链接,保证中国的女权运动在全球的知晓度,进而寻求合作和增进姐妹情谊的可能。

 

因此我认为,本网站就是这样一个产物。此网站可以作为一个中国的女权运动和国际女权运动联结的重要基地,让世界听到中国的女权之声。 了解中国女权运动现状,是改变的开始。

 

 

 

 

 

 

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