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China Sex & Gender

Silence! The Xianzi Versus Zhu Jun Court Case Has Begun

Manya Koetse

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As the Xianzi versus Zhu Jun court case begins, Chinese official media stay silent and social media posts are being removed.

On December 2nd, 13:30 Beijing time, a landmark court case commenced in Beijing’s Haidian district court, namely that of Xianzi versus Zhu Jun, the famous 56-year-old TV host and actor.

Xianzi (弦子) is a nickname for Zhou Xiaoxuan, a 27-year-old scriptwriter from Beijing who published a personal essay on social media in 2018 in which she accused Zhou Jun of sexually assaulting her while she was interning at CCTV for the Art Life (艺术人生) TV show in 2014. On Weibo, she is active under the name of ‘Xianzi and her Friends’ (@弦子与她的朋友们 over 271,000 followers).

Xianzi accuses Zhu of forcibly kissing and groping her in his dressing room, where she had come to interview him on June 10th, 2014. She had managed to escape the situation when another person entered the room. As previously reported by New York Times, Xianzi ran to the police after the incident had occurred. They reportedly urged her to drop the complaints.

For years, Xianzi stayed silent on the case, until that day in July 2018 when the American ‘Metoo’ campaign was in full swing and Xianzi spotted a friend’s story of experiencing sexual assault. Xianzi then posted her own story online, and it went viral.

The person she accuses of sexual intimidation, Zhu Jun, is a household name in China. In his teenage years, Zhu joined the People’s Liberation Army where he also joined the Military Band. He later started a career as a professional actor and became a familiar face on the Chinese state media outlet CCTV in 1993. He frequently appeared as a host for the annual CCTV Spring Festival Gala, the most-watched live broadcasted program in China.

Zhu Jun’s portrait photo on Baidu’s Baike.

After Xianzi’s story gained widespread attention, Zhu Jun did not only deny all accusations, he also proceeded to sue Xianzi for damaging his reputation and for inflicting emotional distress, demanding a compensation of 655,000 yuan ($99,800). In October 2018, Xianzi filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit against the TV host and is asking for a public apology as well as 50,000 yuan ($7600) in damages.

As the court case was ongoing on Tuesday afternoon, Weibo feeds were filling up with people showing their support for Xianzi, even though the hashtag page for “Go Xianxi” (#弦子加油#) was taken offline.

Information about the court hearing is spread on Chinese social media.

Photos that quickly spread on Weibo showed dozens of supporters of Xianzi standing outside the court demanding justice. Some were holding posters showing the “Me Too” hashtag. Photos of Xianzi standing outside the court before entering also made their rounds.

Xianzi holding a sign saying “we will prevail”

Many people on Weibo are eager to hear the outcome of the case and complain about the lack of coverage of this news in Chinese media. This week, official Chinese news channels have stayed silent on the topic.

People are also complaining about the apparent online censorship of hashtags and comments relating to the case: “When I checked at 3 pm this afternoon, I saw plenty of Weibo posts relating to this hashtag. Now they’re all gone.”

“All content relating to the Zhu Jun sexual harassment case is gone from Douban,” one commenter said, referring to another popular Chinese social media platform: “I’m puzzled.”

Some commenters also claimed that images, such as the one pictured above, were being taken offline. At the time of writing, one of the few hashtag pages that was still open and being used to discuss this topic (#弦子诉朱军性骚扰案今天开庭#) also seems to have been deleted.

Even a hashtag that was previously used by state-run news site The Observer (#弦子诉朱军性骚扰案将于12月2日开庭#) has by now been taken offline.

While waiting for more news to come out, some creative expressions of support are also coming out on Weibo, including drawings and edited photos.

Meanwhile, videos circulating online show how food and warm drinks were delivered to the ‘Friends of Xianzi’ waiting in the dark in front of the courthouse.

Update Dec 3, 0.15 Beijing Time

Footage of Xianzi leaving the courthouse was shared on social media on late Tuesday night, with her thanking all her supporters who have been waiting outside in the cold all day.

For now, the latest news is that the trial is being adjourned.

By Manya Koetse

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

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

China Sex & Gender

Censorship of Chinese 6B4T & Feminist Groups Prompts Wave of Support for “Douban Sisters”

Even those who don’t agree with ‘6b4t’ views condemn Douban’s recent crackdown on 6b4t and feminist groups.

Manya Koetse

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What is 6b4t? That is the question popping up in several places on Chinese social media this week after the popular networking platform Douban closed down several feminist groups and targeted the keyword ‘6B4T.’

Douban (豆瓣) is an influential Chinese social media platform that allows users to discuss and review books, music, films, and other topics. The platform has a ‘group’ (小组) function, with groups being like online forums revolving around a particular topic where Douban users can subscribe, post, and interact.

On the night of April 12, Douban closed down more than ten Douban feminist groups, of which some were linked to ‘6b4t’ views.

6b4t is an online movement that originated in South Korea and is about female empowerment and independence that shifts away from patriarchal society and male-dominated fields in popular culture and beyond.

The ‘6B’ stands for no husband, no children, no boyfriend, no male sex partner, not buying any products/brands that are unfriendly to women, and offering support to single women. The movement received some media attention earlier in 2019, when it was still about ‘4B’ or the ‘4 no’s’ (no marriage, no kids, no boyfriend, no sex; the ‘single women support’ and ‘refusal of buying misogynistic products’ were added later). The ‘4T’ stands for the rejection of shapewear (corsets), religion, otaku culture, and idols.

 

“A devastating blow for Chinese radical feminists”


 

The censorship of 6b4t-related groups on Douban sparked sharp criticism and anger online. On Twitter, ‘HAL 10000’ (@dualvectorfoil) called the crackdown “a devastating blow” for Chinese radical feminists.

The Twitter account FreeChineseFeminists (@FeministChina) posted a screenshot of Douban’s notification that the ‘6B4T’ group had been removed, with the platform calling it an “extreme” and “radical” “ideology.”

On Weibo, many commenters also spoke out against the removal of the feminist Douban groups.

“I am 6b4t and although it might seem extreme in the eyes of some, I am not harming anyone at all,” one person wrote, with another commenter adding: “This is completely limited to myself, I do not influence others.”

“I’ve been 6b4t for years without even realizing,” one Weibo user jokingly wrote: “I’ve been single forever!”

Another person admitted: “I don’t really look at Douban, and I don’t really understand 6b4t, but blowing up those groups like this goes too far.”

 

We have to firmly support our Douban sisters”


 

The account of Xianzi, the woman who became famous for the Xianzi versus Zhu Jun court case, also commented on the Douban censorship on April 13:

I am not a follower of 6b4t at all, but I firmly support my Douban sisters and oppose how the feminist Douban groups have been shut out. First, 6B4T clearly is an important branch of contemporary online feminism – shutting these groups out is shutting out discussions on female topics. Seconds, the viewpoint of 6B4T is not radical at all, it just asserts that women do not need to enter heterosexual relationships and can break away from masculine control. This is completely up to women themselves and has nothing to do with anyone else. When even such a viewpoint is banned, and women insisting on being single are still seen as rebellious — this is the fundamental reason why we have to firmly support our Douban sisters.

Many people support Xianzi’s statement, and meanwhile, the hashtag “Women Let’s Unite” (#女性们团结吧#) also took off on Weibo, with many commenters calling on women to let their voices be heard.

“If someone is covering your mouth to try and silence you – scream louder,” one person wrote.

The hashtag was also used to address issues of domestic abuse, a topic that has received a lot of attention on Chinese social media over the past year. In October of 2020, the death of the female vlogger Lamu, who was burnt by her ex-husband, also sparked an online movement that called on authorities to do more to protect and legally empower female victims of domestic abuse.

The ‘Women Unite’ hashtag page had received over 47 million views by late Tuesday night. Another relating hashtag, ‘Douban Feminism’ (#豆瓣女权#) was viewed over 40,000 times.

 

You can disagree, but you can’t silence them”


 

While the search for ‘6b4t’ gave few new results on the Douban site at the time of writing, there were still some older posts on the topic.

One noteworthy one is that by user *Blossom*, who took the time earlier this year to explain what 6b4t means to her, saying “6b4t is an act of struggle, it is not a discipline.”

In the post of February 2nd of this year, ‘Blossom’ explains that 6b4t is a way of resistance where the keyword is “sovereignty,” namely the female sovereignty over her own body. 6b4t is a way to fight for radical feminism, Blossom claims:

In the context of patriarchal society, women are sexually objectified while male sexuality equals power. Under this premise, marriage, childbearing, romantic love, and sexual activity are all about reinforcing the power of men and benefiting them. So we advocate 4b, which essentially is a non-violent and non-cooperative struggle mode, with the same characteristics as workers’ and slaves’ strikes.”

Although there are also people expressing disagreement with the 6b4t movement, many defend their right to have online discussion groups about their ideas.

“You can disagree, you can call them into question, but you can’t cover their mouths to silence them,” one Weibo user wrote.

“We can have groups advocating marriage and childbirth, why can’t we have groups advocating being single and childfree?”, another person asked, with one commenter stating: “I do not advocate 6B4T, but I will defend to the death the right of these women to advocate 6B4T.”

Throughout the years, feminist movements have often become a target of censorship on Chinese social media. Douban previously also censored content relating to the Zhu Jun sexual harassment case, and in the case of demanding justice for Lamu, some hasthag pages were also removed from Weibo. The renowned feminist Weibo account ‘Feminist Voices’ (@女权之声) was permanently banned in 2018, along with other feminist accounts.

“A new era of witch-hunting has started,” one top comment in a thread of 2200 comments said: “Get ready to fight, let your voice be heard!”

A somewhat ironic consequence of Douban’s latest censorship is that many people who had never heard about this ‘radical feminism’ now know what 6b4t is because it became a ‘banned term.’ “I’ve learnt a new word today,” some commenters say, with others vowing to support their silenced ‘Douban sisters.’

By Manya Koetse

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.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

Video Showing Suihua Female Worker Hitting Deputy Director with a Mop Goes Viral on Weibo

The Suihua deputy director was attacked with a mop after female workers accused him of harassing them.

Manya Koetse

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A video showing a woman beating the director of her work department with a mop has gone viral on Chinese social media. The woman who posted the video accuses the office leader of harassing his female subordinates.

The incident took place on April 11th in the city of Suihua, Heilongjiang province. The man who was beaten in the video is Mr. Wang, the deputy director of the poverty alleviation department of the Beilin district of Suihua.

The 14-minute video shows a woman storming into Wang’s office while another woman is behind her, filming. The first woman initially goes to Wang’s desk and throws some stuff on the ground, before she asks the other woman to give her the mop. She then proceeds to hit Wang in the face and head with the mop multiple times. The other woman yells at Wang that she cannot put up with his harassing texts anymore.

At one point in the video, Wang claims he was “just joking,” but the woman claims he is guilty of harassing multiple women in the department. Local authorities investigated the case after the video went viral.

According to Chinese news reports, Mr. Wang has now been removed from his office and Party position for “lifestyle violations of discipline” (for more information on this, China Law Translate has translated the Chapter XI of the Chinese Communist Party Disciplinary Regulations here.)

The woman hitting Wang with the mop reportedly has not been punished for her actions due to “mental illness.”

On Weibo, many people praise the women for stepping up and rebelling against the deputy director, and fighting to protect themselves. Some people call it “courageous” and a “brave revenge.”

“Harassers deserve to be hit,” one commenter writes, with another person adding: “It is good that young people nowadays come forward against older and more powerful leaders.”

There are also people on Weibo who question the reported “mental illness” condition of the woman who hit Wang, with some suggesting she could have not been a state office worker if she suffered from serious mental issues. Others also denounce the fact that the woman was labeled this way, while allegedly having been harassed and finding no help after reporting it to the police. At the same time, a majority of commenters express relief that the woman will not face punishment for hitting Wang with the mop.

Since the outcome of the investigations has not been made public, some netizens demand to see the investigation’s conclusions to know if the official was indeed guilty of sexual harassment and why nothing was done about the female worker’s alleged reports to police about his behaviour.

Over the past year, the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace has been receiving more attention on Chinese social media. In March of this year, a Shanghai court awarded approximately $15,000 to a plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit against a colleague who had sent disturbing text messages to her over a period of six months (link). In December of 2020, a landmark court case of the female scriptwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan versus Chinese famous TV host Zhu Jun attracted major attention on social media.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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