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Never before have women’s rights in China been discussed as openly as they are now. TV shows and pop songs deal with gender equality and domestic violence. Emotions regularly run high on social networks when women in this still predominantly patriarchal country are urged to have children – and should keep quiet otherwise. The government is still unsure how it should deal with the discontent of predominantly young women. Concessions and repression still hold the balance. Today, on the occasion of stories like Peng Shuai and a woman who was chained up, we take a closer look at the issue.
We are currently seeing a rapprochement between Russia and China – and not just on earth, for example in the Olympic handshake between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. The partnership even stretches all the way into space. Before the end of this decade, both nations want to begin the construction of a joint space station on the moon. For Moscow and Beijing, this is primarily a prestige project. They want to outpace the Americans as quickly as possible, who are also planning new lunar missions. A new space race has begun. And earth’s satellite is merely the first stop on the way.
Women rise up against ‘toxic environment’
In January 2021, Chinese stand-up comedian Yang Li suddenly became famous for her statement that men are “普確信” Pǔ quèxìn: “mediocre, but self-confident.” On China’s social media, the phrase became a feminist slogan within hours. At the same time, a shitstorm broke out over Li, which also cost her some advertising contracts. The tenor: Li’s comedy was inciting “hatred against men”. Gender equality is generally a topic that quickly raises tempers in China. Most recently, the case of a mentally ill woman who was chained up by her husband in the city of Xuzhou caused nationwide outrage. Women were often not even treated as human beings, according to comments on Chinese social media channels such as Weibo.
Never before have gender debates and equality questions been so publicly debated in China as in the past three years. Just like in Western countries, certainties are being thrown into doubt. Feminist-inspired TV shows such as “Hear Her” 听见她说” criticize unhealthy beauty standards and distorted self-image among young women. Pop singer Tan Weiwei addressed real-life cases of domestic violence in her song “Xiǎo juān 小娟,” while rapper Yamy openly ranted about sexual harassment in Chinese show business on her Weibo channel.
Feminism is to a certain extent part of today’s Chinese pop culture. However, artists are walking a fine line. The Chinese government considers a feminist mass movement a danger to social stability. In particular, the wave of solidarity with victims of abuse and assault that has gone around the world under the hashtag “MeToo” is labeled by Beijing as a “tool of foreign forces” to undermine the Chinese system.
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