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China Sex & Gender

Liberal Writer Li Jingrui Angers Chinese Feminists: “Weaklings and Warriors Are Not Defined by Gender”

Why do prominent mainland liberals speak out against Chinese feminism?

Boyu Xiao

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While Chinese feminist social media accounts are facing an online crackdown, a major discussion has erupted on Weibo after prominent liberal writer Li Jingrui voiced her negative stance on the feminist movement in the PRC today. The incident highlights the existing conflict between ‘mainland liberals’ and ‘mainland feminists.’

In the days following International Women’s Day, discussions on feminism in the PRC have been buzzing on Chinese social media.

A discussion that particularly received attention on Chinese social media this week is one that is taking place between mainland liberal thinkers and Chinese feminists on the issue of women’s power struggle in China.

The discussion was triggered when Li Jingrui (李静睿), a well-known female author and supporter of Chinese democratic activists, spoke out about China’s feminist movement. An online crackdown affecting various feminism-related social media accounts fuelled the debate.

 

FEMINIST VOICES SILENCED

“The account won’t be reactivated because it has posted ‘sensitive and illegal information.'”

 

On the eve of March 8, the renowned feminist Weibo account ‘Feminist Voices‘ (@女权之声), which had over 181,000 followers, was pulled offline after it had actively posted about Women’s Day during the day. The Feminist Voices’ Wechat account also disappeared the next day.

The ‘Feminist Voices’ Weibo and Wechat account were taken offline on and after March 8.

The Feminist Voices platform’s founding editor Lü Pin (吕频) spoke out on Twitter about the issue, saying that she was told by Sina Weibo’s customer service staff that the account would not be reactivated because it has posted “sensitive and illegal information.”

Lü Pin stated that preceding the account’s deletion, Feminist Voices had encouraged people on Weibo to announce their “anti-sexual harassment declaration” in response to the international #MeToo campaign.

Besides Feminist Voices, other accounts were also affected by the online crackdown around Women’s Day 2018. Amongst them was the ‘Feminist Forum’ (女权主义贴吧), which saw more than 19,000 Weibo posts erased from the internet by late February.

 

THE LI JINGRUI CONTROVERSY

“I would never use my female sex as an excuse for being weak. Weaklings and warriors are not defined by gender.”

 

While the heightened censorship caused outrage amongst many feminists on social media, a controversial post by the liberal writer and former legal journalist Li Jingrui (李静睿) popped up on Weibo. Li is well known for her involvement in social justice movements together with her husband Xiao Han (萧瀚), a prominent liberal scholar.

One of the Weibo posts by Li Jingrui triggering debate on Weibo.

In her post, Li addressed the Chinese feminist movement, writing:

I have no interest in the concept of social collectives, and I have no strong sense of gender awareness. I like to cook and do housework. I don’t feel angered when I do these things, nor do I feel enslaved. Instead of focusing on gender issues, I prefer to study and discuss broader political and cultural issues, and spare no efforts to lead a serious and full intellectual life. I feel no hostility towards the male sex, and I do not feel like fighting them. I just feel guilty that I know there are certain things I really want to fight, but I do not have the guts to do so. I would never use my female gender as an excuse for being weak. Weaklings and warriors are not defined by gender. Lin Zhao* stood on the barricades. I hope I’ll [continue to be] be aware of power and treasure freedom – I’ll always fight for it. This has nothing to do with being a woman. It is a matter of humanity. Gender is not an obstacle, nor should it ever be an excuse.”

*Lin Zhao is a prominent Chinese dissident who was imprisoned and later executed during the Cultural Revolution for her criticism of Mao Zedong’s policies.

Shortly after Li Jingrui published her post, she received a lot of criticism from the online feminist community, of which many people previously supported Li for her contribution to civil rights activism in China, and for the fact that she and her husband address politic issues while facing strict censorship.

Some of the main problematic points of Li’s post as addressed by disgruntled feminists on Weibo are the following:
– That Li considers feminism as a social collective.
– That she reinforces the stereotype that feminists hate cooking and cleaning, and that they dislike men.
– That Li is unaware of her privilege to be able to choose if she wants to cook or clean, but that many women do not enjoy that same privilege.
– That she implies that her intellectual goals are more important and of a ‘higher standard’ than feminist goals are.
– That she hints that feminists are cowards who hide behind their gender.
– That she does not realize that feminists pursue the same human equality and freedom as she herself does.

Another issue that caused some consternation online is that Li’s husband Xiao Han also left a comment on Li’s post saying he agreed with her stance. Some commenters used this against Li, saying that she is “brainwashed” by her husband and relies on him to build her self-worth.

 

BROADER POLITICAL TOPICS

“My friends who are lawyers, public intellectuals, or Tibetan, have no platform to have their voices heard.”

 

In response to the controversy her post evoked, Li Jingrui published another post on March 8 in which she reiterated her idea that there are more important matters in China’s public debate than feminist issues.

Li Jingrui

In this post, Li warns Chinese feminists that they still enjoy relative freedom of discussion compared to other activists in the PRC. Li mentions that lawyers, public intellectuals, and her “Tibetan friends” have since long been silenced and have no platform to speak from, something which seems to have already been “taken for granted.”

Li’s post, in which she writes: “My friends who are lawyers, public intellectuals, or Tibetan, have no platform to have their voices heard.”

Li explains that, instead of a focus on Chinese feminism, she would rather see attention shifted towards more “broad political topics” and to those whose voices are consistently silenced.

Her second post again received much criticism, with some commenters from feminist circles arguing that they were all facing “high censorship,” and that those topics undergoing more censorship were not necessarily more important than those facing less control.

Li’s main opponents come from a new generation of young Chinese feminists (both male and female) and online influentials such as Zhou Yun (周韵, @一音顷夏) or ‘@Linsantu.'[1]

But Li also received much support from like-minded commenters, including from influential accounts such as Luo Zhiqiu (@洛之秋) and Dagudu (@大咕咕咕鸡).

People speaking out for Li claimed that Chinese feminists are not “real feminists,” but “feminazis” (女权纳粹) or “countryside feminists” (中华田园女权: a term to describe women who label themselves as feminists but cherry pick the rights they think they should have).

In their defense of Li Jingrui, these commenters say that people such as Li and her husband are fighting the “real fight,” and are in touch with reality, supposedly unlike the Chinese feminists they attack.

 

MAINLAND LIBERALS VERSUS CHINESE FEMINISTS

“Li Jingrui just prioritizes human rights over women’s rights, what’s wrong with that?”

 

This is not the first time that China’s ‘mainland liberals’ clash with feminists. In “Mainland Liberalism and Feminism” (大陆自由派和女权主义 2016), Weibo blogger @bdf84 writes: “We may think that liberals pursue freedom and democracy, and oppose the oppression of totalitarianism. And since feminists oppose the oppression of women, the two are seemingly natural allies. But this is not true.” [2]

Although both mainland liberals and feminists care about people’s equality and oppression, their perspective on how oppression works and freedom can be attained is radically different. Whereas feminists mostly seek to explain (female) oppression through social and cultural (gender) constructions, mainland liberals are concerned with political systems, and generally, do not believe that culturally constructed power dimensions constitute oppression.

Now that the Li Jingrui has gained much attention on Chinese social media, there are also some people who do not understand the two sides of the discussion. “Since when do human rights oppose women’s rights?”, one netizen (@文盲摇曳有声) wonders. “Li Jingrui just prioritizes human rights over women’s rights, what’s wrong with that?”, others write.

But the two sides of the discussion show no signs of mutual understanding, as some feminist commenters respond with much indignation and are met with derision by their opponents.

Meanwhile, as fierce online debates continue, Li Jingrui has deleted the posts on her Weibo account related to the discussion. “My personal life has come under attack,” she says: “It’s useless. In the future, I will not participate in these kinds of discussions again.”

On Twitter, the editor of Feminist Voices is not involved in these discussions – she is mourning the account’s erasure during the recent crackdown. “The trace of us has been totally erased from social media in China,” Lü Pin writes: “We are still in shock.”

By Boyu Xiao & Manya Koetse

[1] As described by Hariette Evans on Wagic.com, these new feminist communities are often transnational. @Linsantu, for example, is a Columbia University graduate, whereas Zhou Yun is a PhD candidate at Harvard University’s Sociology department.

[2] A 2013 article by Li Sipan (李思磐, alias of the political sociologist Li Jun) titled “Why don’t Chinese mainland liberals support feminism?” (“中国大陆自由主义者为何不支持女权主义?”) is also fully focused on this polarized discussion.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Boyu Xiao is an MPhil graduate in Asian Studies (Leiden University/Peking University) focused on modern China. She has a strong interest in feminist issues and specializes in the construction of memory in contemporary China.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    docphd

    March 15, 2018 at 5:39 am

    Both sides are full of ideologues intolerant of differences and uninterested in human beings other than in an abstract sense. How is that different from the mentality of Red Guards? U know what? AT least the communists know how to run a huge mess of a country that is China. These anti-chicom ‘freedom fighters’ can’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

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China Sex & Gender

Papi Jiang Receives Online Backlash for Giving Son Her Husband’s Surname

As a role model for female empowerment, Papi Jiang should not have given her child her husband’s last name, ‘feminists’ on Weibo say.

Manya Koetse

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An independent woman such as self-made superstar Papi Jiang should not have given her child her husband’s last name, Chinese self-proclaimed feminists say. The issue became top trending on Weibo this week.

China’s favorite online comedian and Weibo superstar Papi Jiang (papi酱) has received online backlash for giving her baby her husband’s surname.

The online controversy erupted on Mother’s Day, when Papi shared a photo of her and her baby on her Weibo account, that has some 33 million followers.

The Weibo post that became unexpectedly controversial, screenshot by What’s on Weibo before post was removed.

Papi Jiang (33) recently became a mum and wished all mothers a “Happy Mother’s Day” in her post, which addressed how being a mum is one of the most tiring tasks she has ever faced in her life. The internet celebrity also posted about suffering from mastitis (inflammation of the breast) while breastfeeding.

Underneath the post, Weibo users started a discussion on Papi Jiang being a mum and why such a successful self-made woman had opted to name her baby after her husband, instead of giving him her own surname.

Dozens of disappointed fans, internet trolls, and self-proclaimed feminists accused Papi of not being an “independent woman,” and some even suggested Papi was a “married donkey” (婚驴) for “blindly following the common rules of a patriarchal society.”

Papi Jiang (real name Jiang Yilei) is a Beijing Central Academy of Drama graduate who rose to online fame in 2015/2016 with her sharp and sarcastic videos that humorously address relevant topics in Chinese society.

She has been a highly successful as a career woman; since as early as 2016, companies offer millions to get Papi Jiang to promote their brand in one of her videos.

The comedian is often seen as an online role model for female empowerment; not just because of her economic success and independence, but also because her success is not based on her looks – which generally is the case with many female online influencers in China. Proudly identifying herself as a “leftover woman” in the early days of her rise to fame, and not afraid to use vulgar language, she was a breath of fresh air in China’s ‘Big V’ culture.

Papi once said that the most important person in the life of an independent woman is herself.

The vlogger already learned that fame can be a double-edged sword back in 2016, when she was targeted by online censors for spreading “vulgar language and content.”

This week, the controversy over the surname of Papi’s child temporarily became one of the most-searched hashtags on Weibo (#papi酱孩子随父姓引争议#), and some Chinese media outlets also reported the issue.

As per China’s Marriage Law of 1980, parents can give their child either the father’s or the mother’s surname. It is relatively unusual for parents to give their newborn the mother’s name, but there has been a recent rise in the number of babies to receive their mother’s surname.

Although Papi faced backlash for supposedly not being ‘independent’ for giving her child her own family name, many of Papi Jiang’s have come to her defense today. According to some Weibo commenters, the people who are criticizing her are “braindead single feminists” or “internet trolls projecting their own unhappiness onto Papi.”

At the time of writing, Papi Jiang’s Mother Day post and the one addressing her mastitis seem to have been removed.

By now, online discussions have also shifted to address what feminism actually is – and whether or not those attacking Papi over her child’s name are feminists or not.

“Some feminists on Weibo are truly ridiculous,” another person writes: “They talk about feminism all the time, but are quick to point their finger at women, what’s that about?”

“I am a real feminist,” one commenter writes: “The core of feminism is all about giving women the freedom to choose. This also means that women have the freedom to give their child the dad’s name.”

To read more about Chinese feminism, also see:
Liberal Writer Li Jingrui Angers Chinese Feminists: “Weaklings and Warriors Are Not Defined by Gender”
Is There No Chinese Feminism?

To read more about Papi Jiang, check out these articles.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
With contributions from Miranda Barnes
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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Memes & Viral

IKEA China Masturbation Video Causes Consternation on Weibo

For some people, IKEA apparently feels a little too much like home.

Manya Koetse

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A video of a woman masturbating in an IKEA store in China has gone viral among Chinese social media users.

In the video, a woman is filmed while fondling herself within an IKEA store while regular customers are shopping in the background. The video is rumored to have been filmed at the store’s Guangzhou location.

In the 2-minute video that is making its rounds, the woman is first posing on an IKEA sofa – without any pants on – pleasuring herself while another person films her.

Another shot shows her masturbating on an IKEA bed with multiple customers passing by in the background, seemingly not noticing the woman’s behavior.

In a third scene, the woman continues to masturbate within one of the store’s showrooms.

Since the pornographic video has spread across Chinese social media like wildfire, IKEA China released a statement on its Weibo account on May 9th, in which it condemned the video.

The Swedish furniture company stated that it is “committed to providing home inspiration for the public” and strives to provide a “safe, comfortable, and healthy shopping experience and environment” for its customers. IKEA further writes it “firmly opposes and condemns” the video.

In 2015, a similar incident went trending on Chinese social media regarding a video of a naked girl and a man having sex in a fitting room at the Sanlitun location of Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo.

Because of the unlikely combination of a ‘sex video’ and ‘Uniqlo’, many people wondered at the time if the viral video was actually a secret marketing campaign meant to spice up the image of Uniqlo – something that was denied by the chain.

Later on, five people were arrested over the sex tape and the personal details of the woman in the video were revealed and shared by Chinese web users.

“This is the 2020 Uniqlo,” one commenter said about today’s IKEA controversy.

Although IKEA has filed a police report against the people involved in the making of the video that has now gone viral, the identities of the woman and her accomplice are not yet known or revealed at the time of writing.

Some netizens suggest the video was filmed some time ago – in the pre-COVID-19 era – since the people in the background are not wearing face masks.

The controversy has not made the IKEA brand any less popular on Chinese social media – on the contrary. On Weibo, thousands of web users have posted about the issue, with many flocking to the IKEA Weibo account to comment.

Underneath an IKEA post promoted with the brand’s slogan “Your Home, Your Way” – that now seems a bit dubious – people are leaving all sorts of comments about the video.

Although some people express anger over the woman’s vulgar behavior, there are also many people who seem to find the controversy somewhat amusing, and many others who want to know where they can find the video.

“I’m asking for a friend,” is one of the comments that is currently recurring the most in threads about the video.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
With contributions from Miranda Barnes
Follow @whatsonweibo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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