Chi­nese women take the spot­light

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Ke Rensi

One of my hob­bies is man­ag­ing a fem­i­nist Weibo page with friends. We write com­men­taries, trans­late English videos and de­sign in­fo­graph­ics about gen­der is­sues in China. The gen­der ra­tio of our team is 1:1, a fab­u­lous ra­tio we hope our coun­try ac­com­plishes in lead­er­ship po­si­tions across eco­nomic sec­tors. Culling through the news feed ev­ery day, I’m con­fi­dent that we are not build­ing cas­tles in the air.

In mid-Jan­uary, Tu Youyou, the first Chi­nese Nobel lau­re­ate in medicine, took Chi­nese so­cial me­dia by storm, again, as her re­search team con­firmed that di hy­dro artemis in in is ef­fec­tive in treat­ing lu­pus ery­the­mato­sus. A few days later, mixed mar­tial arts fighter Xiong Jing­nan, “The Panda,” be­came the first Chi­nese ever to be crowned the cham­pion in ONE Cham­pi­onship in Jakarta, In­done­sia and Kung Fu Cha Cha, a fe­male four-per­son row­ing team from Shan­tou Uni­ver­sity, be­came the world’s fastest fe­male team to row across the At­lantic.

Ex­cit­ing news about Chi­nese women is one of the rea­sons why I love be­ing a fem­i­nist Weibo blog­ger. It has been eas­ier than ever to spot fe­male role mod­els in China. Ac­cord­ing to hu­run.net and forbes.com, China boasted the world’s largest num­ber of self-made women bil­lion­aires in 2017. They also seem to be more char­i­ta­ble than their male coun­ter­parts as one-third of them have launched phil­an­thropic projects. With re­search in­sti­tu­tions and the me­dia grad­u­ally pay­ing more at­ten­tion to fe­male suc­cess sto­ries, women of my gen­er­a­tion will be more con­fi­dent than those of my mother’s gen­er­a­tion.

As a mat­ter of fact, we are al­ready more con­fi­dent. I am sur­rounded by as­sertive fe­male blog­gers with mas­ter’s de­grees and above, which is not sur­pris­ing since China’s fe­male mas­ter’s de­gree hold­ers out­num­bered their male coun­ter­parts in as early as 2010. In 2016, over 60 per­cent of the ap­pli­cants to do­mes­tic mas­ter’s de­gree pro­grams were fe­male. Women’s ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment has a clear im­pact on their eco­nomic fu­ture. A con­comi­tant trend is the talk about de­lay­ing and even for­go­ing mar­riage and child­bear­ing. When I hear sto­ries about women net­tled by their par­ents-turn ed-grand-par­ent-wannabes, I feel happy for them be­cause now more than ever their quib­bles are un­der­stood and val­ued.

In 2016, Chi­nese fem­i­nist blog­gers wrote ex­ten­sively about Ode to Joy 2 and The First Half of My Life. Both TV shows have fea­tured opin­ion­ated fe­male leads and gen­er­ated over 10 bil­lion views on the in­ter­net. It is man­i­fest that showrun­ners have fig­ured out what kind of fe­male char­ac­ters would reap great rat­ings in to­day’s China. Although many fem­i­nists have reser­va­tions about the above two shows and call for more TV se­ries fea­tur­ing mid­dle-aged ac­tresses and truly in­de­pen­dent fe­male char­ac­ters, I be­lieve it’s only a mat­ter of time when Chi­nese ac­tresses over age 45 won’t have to be rel­e­gated to mi­nor roles like quar­rel­some mothers and fas­tid­i­ous mothers-in-law. If there is any change that I wish to see about fem­i­nist blog­gers in China, I wish to see more male fem­i­nists. Some fem­i­nists heap op­pro­brium upon men who lag in gen­der ed­u­ca­tion. Dis­parag­ing la­bels like “straight men cancer” are thrown around in Weibo de­bates, but they don’t seem to do a great job at rais­ing men’s con­scious­ness about gen­der in­iq­uity. China has made great strides in em­pow­er­ing women, un­de­ni­ably with the sup­port of many awe­some men, so I sug­gest that fem­i­nist blog­gers tone down the speech to en­gage more po­ten­tial male al­lies.

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