The feminist movement is in full force and is a nationwide revolution that is still breaking down barriers to this day. We see it so much in our everyday lives that it has become a normality. In other parts of the world, it is not so fortunate for women to speak their minds and fight for their rights. In China, the most populated country on the planet, the gender ratio from men to women is in a serious crisis right now.
Currently, there are approximately thirty-four million more men than women in China and the consequences are soon going to take effect. In the next 10 years, the number of opportunities for couples to marry will diminish significantly as men will soon find themselves struggling to find a mate. As this crisis continues, the emergence of Chinese feminism is slowly, but surely, making its presence felt. China’s Women’s Network has developed a feminism TV channel named Youku, currently has more than 200,000 followers.
So why, in a country that holds the most people in the world at 1.4 Billion, is the feminism movement progressing so slowly? How has the extreme gender imbalance affected women in China? And what are feminists activists doing about the issues facing women in China? This is a pivotal moment in China’s society, and if they cannot bring a light to the issues women face in their country, their country could be on the verge of a collapse.
The reason for the gender imbalance started “in the 1950s and 1960s.
China’s leader at that time Mao Zedong instructed the nation to have as many children as possible in order to bury the United States in population. His instructions sent the birth rate soaring to 5.8 children per couple” according to Worldpress.org. Because of his new proposal, it was the beginning of many problems facing China. Due to his instructions population raised and China’s resources plunged because of a widespread scarcity of food causing thirty million deaths. After Mao Zedong’s reign, a new leader named Deng Xiaoping emerged. China’s new leader proposed “China’s one-child policy to limit the nation’s population growth.” according to Worldpress.org. This system lasted from 1979-2016. Due to this policy along with a cultural preference for sons, women had gender-selective abortions causing the births of an excessive amount of males.
Ever since the gender imbalance which is thirty-four million more men than women in China, women face the threat of human trafficking as it’s on the rise. Because of the extreme gender imbalance, men felt that they were affected by this and wanted more women available to them. “Often men kidnap women and sell them to villages. Trafficked women are often then forced into marriage and therefore suffer from prolonged sexual exploitation.” (Wikipedia.com)
“Women from surrounding countries especially women in Vietnam, are increasingly kidnapped as well and brought to China as a black-market solution to ensure that men have the women they need.”(Worldpress.org) Issues like this are happening too often for China and other countries to not do anything or at least bring more light to such a serious problem.
According to the U.S. Department of State in 2017, China ranks third in worst countries for human trafficking. China is also a tier 3 country which is the countries that make little or no effort of bringing trafficking issues to justice. Human trafficking in China will still be an issue as long as the Chinese government keeps on ignoring what’s happening to women and fails to make an effort to address the roots of the problem.
Women in China also face sexual assault due to the gender imbalance. “Sexual assault has become an increasing issue in China and more and more women are subject to these targeted crimes” (Clevland State University.) Due to the high number of single men they make up the higher number of rapists in China. Some of the citizen’s of China are starting to notice the high rise of sexual assaults and wanting to change that. They are starting to take part in the #metoo movement. It started when a woman named Luo Xixi came forward and posted a story online on how she studying under a famous professor and how he tried to coerce her into having sex with him, more women came out with their story involving the same man and he was later on fired. In an article by Vox, it talks about the movement and how it’s growing in China. It states that in a small amount of time that “more than a dozen Chinese women have come forward on social media with accusations of sexual assault and harassment against prominent activists and television personalities.”(Vox.com) I think it’s great how more and more women are getting comfortable enough to come out and talk about their experiences with being a sexual assault survivor especially in a place where it’s taboo in China to talk about issues such as those.
“The Chinese government tries their best efforts to suppress the #metoo movement but women are refusing to be silenced.”(Vox.com) The Chinese government is okay with the reporting on the movement and even taking action in isolated cases like the case of the professor, but because the movement was getting too popular they censored it in a way of staying in control. The government tried censoring the word “me too” online but women found their way around that problem with using the word “rice bunny” because the word sounds like “me too” in Chinese. The Chinese government still has traditional views on things such as women. They believe that “it is a virtue of women to be submissive to the wishes of others.” This way of thinking has been around for a long time and has been believed by many people in many different places around the world. That way of thinking was thought by many men before the first wave of feminism and after and still went on through the second wave. Although in our society thinking that way is old-fashioned, men still feel that way about women and it still affects women in big ways. In America, we have come a long way with the way we perceive women but in China, they still think that women must do what men say. The Chinese government is turning a blind eye at the troubles women face and they don’t take action when it’s clearly needed.
Due to the issues women face in China more and more women seem to join the feminist movement slowly but surely. China’s younger generation of feminists poses a unique threat to the Communist Party by going against the traditional belief’s of the government. Feminism along with feminist activism isn’t very common in China and you can be punished if you partake in activities such as those. Just like in other places around the world they perceive the “F-word” to be “something dangerous and profane.” In 2015 five young Chinese feminist women named Li Maizi, Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting, Zheng Churan, and Wang Man were detained by authorities on the eve of international women’s day. The five women were arrested and according to authorities “on suspicion of picking quarrels and provoking trouble after planning a multi-city protest aimed at bringing an end to sexual harassment on public transport.” (en.hkctu.org.hk)The young women were apart of a vocal feminist group expressing their anger on social media about sexism in China and how its intensifying in recent years. They were detained for thirty-seven days and soon caught media attention. People poured in support for the women and were pushing the Chinese government to release them. The women were soon activist inspirations and called “the feminist five.” After the women’s release, they were considered and still are considered “criminal suspects.” One of the feminist five, Li Maizi, states that “We have to think very carefully about new methods to push forward China’s feminist movement.” This just shows that the feminist movement is something that the Chinese government is not happy about and feminist who wants their voices to be heard about issues affecting themselves or other women is something that is dangerous.
The beginning of feminism has always been controversial, time and time again the movement has always dealt with people not liking what women have to say about the way they are being treated and fighting for some type of change. Chinese feminism is on the rise even though what they are doing is dangerous in some cases. Young Chinese women who are partaking in the feminist movement either in a small or big way reminds me of the second wave of feminism. They are wanting more out of the government which is that they will acknowledge and do something about how they are being treated in society. The Chinese feminists are finding ways for their voices to be heard even when the government tries to keep them quiet. China even censors the word “vagina” when being advertised. Most girls in China don’t know what feminism is but they do know that they are being discriminated. An article called “feminism in China” describes what it’s like to be a feminist there. Twenty-year-old Xu Zihua says that in China “Nobody wants to be called a feminist, otherwise who will want to marry them.” The “F-word” is still something considered a bad thing in many areas of the world and because feminists are stereotyped to be hateful women, some women perceive the feminist movement as something bad and don’t want to be seen as someone who is evil. Even though China and some of its citizens don’t support the feminist movement and women know the consequences of being a feminist activist, they still are fighting for women’s rights and for their voices to be heard. They are tired of the way women are being treated in China. Chinese feminist is going against the way the Communist Party is strongly promoting traditional gender norms. The norm being men get an education and women stay at home having babies. Just like the second wave of feminism, women don’t want to just be wives and moms, there’s more to women then just that.
The Chinese government is looking away when it comes to women’s issues causing women to suffer. More and more women are noticing that they are not being treated in a fair way and they are done being treated so poorly. Due to the high percentage of human trafficking in China and how it keeps on rising throughout the years, it’s affecting women in a big way and it is an to the suffering women are going through. Women want a change and they are fighting against sexual assault. Chinese women are done being afraid and want justice. The Chinese government is trying to quite women who are expressing their concern when it comes to the treatment of women. Because of the one-child policy, it caused many problems that affected women in a big way. Due to it, you see how sexist the communist party is, it caused high numbers of human trafficking and sexual assault. The Chinese feminist movement is on the rise due to all the issues women face because of the government not doing much to help women. Chinese women face punishment when speaking out but they are done being afraid and want their voices to be heard. I believe that I will be hearing more about Chinese feminist and their activist workings. Even though there are no statistics about the number of feminists or the number of feminist activists in China, I believe there will be a high rise of feminists in China in the future.