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Homework answers / question archive / 1Chinese Feminism and made-in China feminism ABSTRACT Social relations bred social culture

1Chinese Feminism and made-in China feminism ABSTRACT Social relations bred social culture


1Chinese Feminism and made-in China feminism


Social relations bred social culture. After Chinese mankind entered the farming civilization in farming society, there was the social relationship between male oppressing females first, a set of moral, value and social theories were derived to rationalize and legitimize this oppressive behavior. After the liberation of technology and productivity, with the improvement of human ideology, feminism began to flourish. Women's rights are part of human rights, and the status quo of women's rights and gender equality in various countries are different. In China, feminism is the most popular and controversial topic in recent years. Supporters and opponents of feminism are polarized, and there are extreme radicals for both. The restriction of Chinese political and historical traditional concepts on all social movements has formed a superimposed bondage to feminism, resulting in a limited and shallow spread of feminism. The superposition of various scenes has formed a unique "made-in China feminism".


According to news from Reuters 14th April 2021: Several Chinese feminist channels on Douban, a popular social networking forum in China, were suddenly closed this week, causing anger on the Internet (Reuters). Chinese feminism is like a special existence independent of international feminism. It also has a special name: "Made-in-China feminism". It is a school of social and activist practice thought spawned from the collision of Chinese traditional ideology and "Western" feminism with gender theory(Wu). Feminism has drawn young Chinese urban women to participate more in the struggle for discourse power and material practice. Controversies and social conflicts due to China's feminism even caused the breakdown of society and created a new type of gendered structure of power.


Current China Feminism Social Scene

Pastoral feminism

In March 2015, the Chinese authorities detained five feminism supporters (Devichand). According to the news report, they are members of a group of young female activists who are expressing their anger on the Internet and on the streets of the "toxic vitality of sexism in China”(Wu). The incident aroused international outrage and prolonged discussions on China's radical feminism and arrest charges. To this day, the discussion about feminism has continued unabated, and there has been a wave of enthusiasm on Chinese social media. After the emergence of the watershed of the five dimensions of feminism in 2015, on the one hand, the government has strengthened its control over political activism; on the other hand, organizations with the label of “feminism” have become more capable of arousing the social topics and social issues(Wu).

Currently, social media has strengthened the communication and connection between people, but it will also intensify the spread of new concepts and trends. Weibo[footnoteRef:1] is one of China's largest social media, countless topics about feminism have attracted millions of netizens to comment and repost. In recent years, with the prevalence of feminism and related issues on Chinese social media, "Chinese pastoral feminism" has become a buzzword, it is a satirical criticism of those who fail to fully understand or misunderstand Western feminism(Liu). According to Wikipedia, there is no a definition of pastoral feminism on the Internet, which is a name for a blind and extreme feminist born in a highly networked social environment that originated in China(Wikipedia). [1: Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging (weibo) website. Launched by Sina Corporation on 14 August 2009, it is one of the biggest social media platforms in China, with over 445 million monthly active users as of Q3 2018.]

Pastoral feminism is known for its double standards: talking about women's rights in terms of interests and talking about tradition in terms of responsibilities. Pastoral feminists have the fundamental purpose of obtaining gender benefits, blatantly adopting double standards, and trying to obtain concessions from men by scolding men. This is a result of the collision of Western thoughts and traditional Chinese thoughts. There are two examples from Weibo: Free love is feminism, but wedding gifts[footnoteRef:2] are also feminism; gender equality is feminism, but husbands hand over property is also feminism (Weibo). According to the survey of the article Feminism on Weibo: a citizen sociolinguistics perspective, the overall connotation of feminism on Weibo is negative. The most popular definition of pastoral feminism is that Weibo users conclude: "This is Chinese man created a way to insult Chinese feminism because they think Chinese feminism is rude and vulgar"(Liu) . According the the “Article Anatomy of a buzzword: Three meanings of “Chinese pastoral feminism” in social media”: “‘Chinese pastoral feminism’ re-defines the rights and responsibilities women should have, while both these new ones have been in linguistic absence for a long time from a hegemonic cultural discourse in which gender equality has been legalized and realized superficially neglecting the realistic gender structure”(nd). Pastoral feminism has gradually developed into feminism that requires privileges rather than equal rights. Pastoral feminism on social media has aggravated the dissatisfaction and opposition of a large group of people in the society, resulting in the creation of the radical anti-feminist groups. [2: In China's traditional perspective, the man should prepare a new house and money-gift before getting married. The house varies from 50,000 to 5 million, and the money-gift ranges from 20,000 to 2 million, depending on the price of each place. ]

The radical rhetoric of idyllic feminism has swept the mass media. Radical remarks and strong protests have aroused widespread international attention. Some people regard it as the awakening of "Made-in-China feminism". At the same time, however, the voice of opposition in China has become stronger, and pastoral feminism has become a derogatory and dirty term((Leung)). The greater the popularity of unique made-in-China feminism, the slower the progress of equal rights, and may even regress. The pastoral feminist group is actually a stumbling block to the affirmative movement.


Malformed marriage market

According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, in just six years, the number of people getting married for the first time in China fell by 41%, from 23.8 million in 2013 to 13.9 million in 2019. This is the result of changes in the concept of marriage, especially among young women, some of whom are increasingly disappointed in the role of the marriage system in exacerbating gender inequality (Gan). In China, unmarried women at the age of marriage are called "leftover women", but the source of pressure to promote women's marriage has become stigmatization of women. Women who are labeled as “leftover women” are usually considered to be women leftover by men, and not getting married is their fault. The article "The Making made-in-China Feminist," mentioned: "Changing gender and class relations in post-socialist China have led to the revival of patriarchal values and the rise of a highly competitive marriage market. The women who are in the China marriage-market are like a commodity that can be bought and sold. Various “labels” determine their “prices.”(Wu 14). "Price" in the article refers to a new house for the new couple and the gift money for bride parents. Usually the funds for the new house and the gift money are provided by the men’s parents. The gift money is given to the bride’s parents. This is a traditional Chinese marriage custom. In buying and selling marriage, gift money represents a woman's worth, and some regions and ethnic groups directly call it a women-worthy gift. Women's commercialization of marriage traditionally has survived to this day. Although many Chinese women are affected by patriarchal restrictions, including being labeled as "leftover women," these women are not stereotyped or desperate. Instead, they look for new identities as independent women in society to fight against.

However, marriage is one of the key topics in the discussion of idyllic feminism. More and more women are speaking on the Internet, vowing not to marry forever. "Anti-Marriage" has become the main target currently being attacked by anti-feminist organizations. According to one poster, "Marriage and childbearing are women's largest sunken cost." (Gan) Numerous videos and articles such as postpartum depression, family conflicts after marriage, conflicts between childbearing and employment are circulating wildly on the Internet. After the Chinese government terminated its one-child policy, the situation became more serious. After the opening of the second-child policy in 2015, there was an uproar among young women because the surrounding social and cultural pressures not only forced women to devote more time and energy to their families, the pressure of society and public opinion makes independent women in the new era disgusted, and aggravates the anti-marriage wave, and the acceptance rate of female employees in the workplace dropped, and even employers appeared discriminate against those who have given birth to a child (Wu 5).



Chinese feminism in workplace

Gender discrimination is not uncommon in China's labor market. According to a piece of news reported by the New York Times: Bella Wang from Tianjin, China as a married woman without children, she would have to sign a “special agreement” promising not to get pregnant for two years. If she broke that promise, the company said, she could be fired, without compensation (nd). Many surveys show that interviewing female employees for positions in China usually includes some privacy issues: whether they are married, whether they plan to have children within two years, whether they plan to have a second child, and even some positions explicitly require not to accept women. According to Human Right Watch: "In the Chinese government’s 2020 national civil service job list, 11 percent of the postings specify a preference or requirement for men"(nd). The imminent aging crisis has caused the Chinese government to relax strict "only child" birth restrictions and encourage people to have a second child. Women are facing dual pressures from childbirth and the workplace. The workplace does not want female employees to take maternity leave, while the family and society want women to give birth. Women are forced to choose between occupation and family.

As mentioned above, the radical remarks caused by the Pastoral feminism have met with equally strong opposition. Some critics regard feminism as a stigmatizing label for dissatisfaction with women. And this form in which women are disrupting the universal patriarchal social order is widely called "Made-in-China Feminism" or "C-fem" (Wu 8). According to the The Making of Made-in-China Feminism': "The first and most pronounced type of C-fem we identified in our research is what we call the “entrepreneurial” strand"(9). Entrepreneurial C-fem encourage Women pursue autonomy and give up traditional wives’ duties, such as rushing and self-sacrifice, to maximize their personal returns(Wu 11). The spread of the goal pursued by C-fem not only prompted the rise of the anti-marriage wave, but at the same time, C-fem also gave "leftover women'' another definition: "leftover" and "success" have the same pronunciation in the Chinese. The same also implies that C-fem regard women who are not pursuing marriage but pursuing their own values and careers as successful(nd). This phenomenon is most prominent among unmarried female workers and white-collar workers in cities. Most of this group believes that the "most comfortable way of life" is to remain single and childless. They believe that the universal marriage system will conquer women, even if Women are oppressed. They input these opinions into the Internet in large quantities. However, under the strict control of social media in China, their comments will be forced to delete, and even social accounts will be forced to delete (nd).

The protest journey of Feminism groups is politically difficult and tortuous, and the cultural field has become the main battlefield. C-fem and anti-C-fem have produced a new cultural convergence, which means that the form of struggle and the way of speaking have adopted a constantly evolving power structure, therefore "theoretical intervention in the scholarship on Chinese feminism." The importance of is obvious (Wu 14). It cannot be denied that the foundation of Chinese feminist rights does lack theoretical foundation. The strengthening of the theoretical foundation will support women's pursuit of power in the workplace. However, the feminist movement in the workplace is still not as fierce as the feminist rights on the Internet, and countless gender-discriminated women protested ineffective and even swallowed their voices. Feminism in the workplace will be a persistent and difficult battlefield.

History reasons

At the end of 2020, the World Economic Forum released the "Global Gender Gap index 2020 rankings". Among 153 countries, China ranked 106th. The patriarchy is a social system dominated by patriarchy, which is embodied in the social, legal, rectification, and economic aspects. Judging from the "hill thinking" of Chinese people in the book "Chiyou Cai Xiang"[footnoteRef:3]: In the past agricultural era, people mainly performed manual labor, and men had greater labor value than women. Farming civilization requires people to comply with the rules, and the Chinese ancestors lived in an orderly, recursive, and revolving civilization. After the emergence of the political power, the top-level political structure shows a recursive arrangement from top to bottom: the structure of the royal family, private family or the township, will be surprisingly similar in the organizational structure. A supreme authority, a group of obedience who fight in and out became a symbol of society at that time(Qian 189). However, in this kind of social structure under the patriarchal model, women have no power and right, the female is common to be treated as an appendage of men. Three thousand beauties in the emperor’s harem[footnoteRef:4], the men have wives and concubines in groups, and no female officials in the court, Mulan[footnoteRef:5] has become an eternally famous story for her father in the army. [3: "Chiyou Cai Xiang" is a book published by Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House on September 1, 2011. The author is Qian Dingping. "Chi You Conjecture: The Genesis of Chinese Civilization" uses the latest scientific methods to trace how the Chinese nation went from "prehistoric" to the historical genesis and put forward a series of novel and bold academic viewpoints.] [4: A Chinese proverb ????????” is used to indicate that the emperor has many concubines.] [5: Hua Mulan is a legendary folk heroine from the Northern and Southern dynasties era (4th to 6th century AD) of Chinese history. According to legend, Mulan took her aged father's place in the conscription for the army by disguising herself as a man.]

The heyday of ancient Chinese thought and doctrine was almost in the Warring States period. A hundred schools of thought contended, each holding their own opinions, and they were united or contracted. The Confucian thought of Gangchang has become the mainstream of a school, but the sayings such as "father as son, husband as wife" and "three obeys and four virtues" have been superstitious and worshipped by the world for thousands of years. As a result, the status of women was trampled on, and the doctrines were blatantly written into the annals of history. Men had the right to speak, the social trend to commoditize women.

Modem Chinese feminism

The reform and opening-up policy of 1978 gave New China a completely new look, and feminism has also undergone major changes. The translation boom in the 1980s brought the introduction of a number of Western European feminist works, such as Le Deuxième Sexe, Feminist Literary Theory. The government’s reforms during the reform and opening-up period involved gender discrimination. The Labour Insurance Regulations of 1984 stipulated that women retire 5 years earlier than men in certain industries such as construction and high-power electricity work. This kind of legal regulations that seem to protect women has exacerbated gender discrimination in the workplace. "Modern law classifies women, along with "the elderly and the young", as weaker beings who need special protection and support" (Liu Huang Ma 9). Women are seen as weak people who need to be protected, and their working hours are forced to be shortened. However, such protection limits women's access to equal jobs and salaries with men(Liu Huang Ma 11).

Chinese feminism in the 21st century has been more influenced by feminism from abroad, but the collision of traditional and western ideas has produced radical Chinese feminism. The article What is made-in-China feminism(s)? Gender Discontent and Class Friction in Post-Socialist China proposes a new point of view: theoretical intervention in the scholarship on Chinese feminism (Liu Huang Ma 7). It is undeniable that the foundation of Chinese feminism is lack of theoretical support. Under the influence of traditional Chinese culture and the impact of foreign Western culture, the term feminism has been distorted and misunderstood. The support and dissemination of theory can enable people who misunderstand feminism to understand feminism from a new perspective, and only then can Made-in-China feminism move on to the right track and in line with international standards.



Chinese pastoral feminism is seen as stigmatizing women due to radical speech, which has led to anti-feminist groups and social consensus forming a stumbling block on the development of feminism. But Chinese feminism has given rise to women’s rights in the marriage market and in the workplace, it comes to the role of advancement, even though the way forward is full of obstacles. Both anti-pastoral feminist groups and pastoral feminist groups caused by Made-in-China feminism have gone to extremes. The increase in historical and political factors has added a unique color to Chinese feminism. The theoretical basis will support Chinese women’s rights to win more respect and support, and it's significant to appealing the concern of society to the female and advocating the social respect rights of females.

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