Chinese women take the spotlight
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.