Conversation

03.20.18

What Is the Significance of China’s #MeToo Movement?

Aaron Halegua, Kevin Lin & more
As the #MeToo movement has swept America, it has also made waves in greater China. On the mainland, the most widely publicized incident involved Luo Xixi’s allegation in a January 2018 Weibo post that her professor at Beihang University, Chen Xiaowu...

Books

02.07.18

Leftover in China

Roseann Lake
Editor’s note: After we originally posted this video interview about Leftover in China, questions were brought to our attention about the book. We took the video down while we reviewed these concerns, and we determined that the interview is suitable to run on our book video platform.W. W. Norton & Company: Factory Girls meets The Vagina Monologues in this fascinating narrative on China’s single women—and why they could be the source of its economic future.Forty years ago, China enacted the one-child policy, only recently relaxed. Among many other unintended consequences, it resulted in both an enormous gender imbalance—with predictions of over 20 million more men than women of marriage age by 2020—and China’s first generations of only-daughters. Given the resources normally reserved for boys, these girls were pushed to study, excel in college, and succeed in careers, as if they were sons.Now living in an economic powerhouse, enough of these women have decided to postpone marriage, or not marry at all, spawning a label: “leftovers.” Unprecedentedly well-educated and goal-oriented, they struggle to find partners in a society where gender roles have not evolved as vigorously as society itself, and where new professional opportunities have made women less willing to compromise their careers or concede to marriage for the sake of being wed. Further complicating their search for a mate, the vast majority of China’s single men reside in and are tied to the rural areas where they were raised. This makes them geographically, economically, and educationally incompatible with city-dwelling “leftovers,” who also face difficulty in partnering with urban men, given urban men’s general preference for more dutiful, domesticated wives.Part critique of China’s paternalistic ideals, part playful portrait of the romantic travails of China’s trailblazing women and their well-meaning parents who are anxious to see their daughters snuggled into traditional wedlock, Leftover in China focuses on the lives of four individual women against a backdrop of colorful anecdotes, hundreds of interviews, and rigorous historical and demographic research to show how these “leftovers” are the linchpin to China’s future.{chop}

Features

12.20.17

Pickup Artists with Chinese Characteristics

Robert Foyle Hunwick & Wu Hao
“If you don’t teach her a lesson, someone else will,” Fei explained during his two-hour “Sexual Assertiveness” session, concluding a week-long tutorial offered by Puamap, a team of “professional” seduction artists, marketers, and makeover men. One...

Books

11.30.17

Finding Women in the State

Wang Zheng
Finding Women in the State is a provocative hidden history of socialist state feminists maneuvering behind the scenes at the core of the Chinese Communist Party. These women worked to advance gender and class equality in the early People’s Republic and fought to transform sexist norms and practices, all while facing fierce opposition from a male-dominated Chinese Communist Party leadership, from the local level to the central level. Wang Zheng extends this investigation to the cultural realm, showing how feminists within China’s film industry were working to actively create new cinematic heroines, and how they continued a New Culture anti-patriarchy heritage in socialist film production. This book illuminates not only the different visions of revolutionary transformation but also the dense entanglements among those in the top echelon of the Party. Wang discusses the causes for failure of China’s socialist revolution and raises fundamental questions about male dominance in social movements that aim to pursue social justice and equality. This is the first book engendering the People’s Republic of China high politics and has important theoretical and methodological implications for scholars and students working in gender studies as well as China studies. —University of California Press{chop}

‘My Parents Say Hurry up and Find a Girl’: China's Millions of Lonely ‘Leftover Men’

Wanning Sun
Guardian
When Liu returned to his childhood village to celebrate Chinese New Year, his parents had arranged a familiar and depressing task for him: a series of speed dates. Over a week back in rural Jiangxi province, he met half a dozen potential wives in...

China’s Hottest New Boy Band Is Actually Made up of Five Androgynous Girls

Zheping Huang
Quartz
Acrush is made up of five women mostly in their early twenties, who all have edgy short hairstyles and dress like a bunch of boyish hearthrobs.

In China, a Lonely Valentine’s Day for Millions of Men

Didi Kristen Tatlow
New York Times
That’s because China’s gender gap remains huge. There were 33.59 million more men than women in China in 2016, according to figures from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics that were issued last month 

Media

01.28.17

China’s Feminists Go to Washington

Kim Wall
Zhang Ling was dressed like a revolutionary from the Spanish Civil War. With a long braid emerging from a scarlet beret and clad in trousers a color she described as “communist red,” Zhang had driven her Honda from her home in upstate New York the...

Researchers May Have ‘Found’ Many of China’s 30 Million Missing Girls

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
A new study proposes the births of many of the 'missing' girls were simply not registered...

China Mourns First Female J-10 Pilot After Death in Training

BBC
China is mourning the death of Yu Xu, the country's first female J-10 jet pilot who was killed during an aerobatic training session on Saturday...

For Chinese Women, a Surname is Her Name

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
Keeping a surname is not an expression of marital equality, but of powerful patriarchal values. A married woman continued to be identified by her father’s lineage.

Media

04.15.16

A ‘Lost’ Daughter Speaks, and All of China Listens

A woman in her mid-40s cradled a scrap of blue cloth checkered with red. “Have you seen this before?” she asked. “Do you recognize this pattern?”I held it up to the light and noticed the cotton edges had frayed and tattered over years. “We already...

Wanted in China: More Male Teachers, to Make Boys Men

Javier Hernandez
New York Times
Worried that a shortage of male teachers has produced a generation of timid boys, Chinese educators reinforce traditional gender roles in the classroom.

Books

12.16.15

One Child

Mei Fong
When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China’s poorest and increase the country’s global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy’s repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China’s future: whether its “Little Emperor” cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China’s growth.Weaving in Fong’s reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning. —Houghton Mifflin Harcourt{chop}

Not Enough Women in China? Let Men Share a Wife, an Economist Suggests

DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
New York Times
“No one is forcing anyone to accept ‘one wife, many husbands!’ ”

China’s Other Women

Hannah Beech
Time
Under Mao, China promoted socialist equality for women, but the market-reform era has left many commodified in a country where mistress can be a career choice.

Teaching ABCs of The Birds And The Bees

Zhang Qian
Shanghai Daily
Pupils eagerly participate in a class about sex and gender difference at a school in Shanghai.

If China Wants More Children, It Needs to Get out of the Nation’s Bedrooms

Isabel Hilton
Guardian
The social and economic impacts are well documented: the world’s most rapidly ageing population, a growing labour shortage, a heavy and unfunded pension burden, an unknown number of undocumented “illegal” children and a gender imbalance of...

Media

06.26.15

A Chinese Feminist, Made in America

Nancy Tang
In August 2010, two weeks after turning 18, I traveled about 6,700 miles from Beijing, China to attend Amherst, a liberal-arts college in Massachusetts in the northeastern United States. I packed a copy of Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw’s...

Excerpts

03.16.15

The Education of Detained Chinese Feminist Li Tingting

Eric Fish
It is probably fair to say no woman has ever taken more flak for walking into a men’s room than Li Tingting. In the run-up to Women’s Day in 2012, the feminist college student was distressed by the one-to-one ratio of public restroom facilities for...

Media

03.10.15

China’s Good Girls Want Tattoos

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
“It seems that Chinese men don’t want to marry a girl with tattoos,” complained one such girl on the Chinese online discussion platform Douban. She posted a picture of her body art, an abstract design on her lower back. “In East Asian cultural...

Features

11.06.14

No Women Need Apply

Lijia Zhang
“Applicants limited to male.” 23-year-old job-hunter Huang Rong (not her real name) noticed this line in a job announcement only after she had heard nothing from the recruiter and gone back to check the advertisement online. She had graduated from...

Sex in China: An Interview with Li Yinhe

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Li Yinhe is one of China’s best-known experts on sex and the family. A member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, she has published widely on sexual mores, women, and family issues. Li also runs a popular blog, where she has advocated for...

Sinica Podcast

06.16.14

The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by David Moser and Leta Hong Fincher, newly-minted Ph.D. and author of Leftover Women, a book which gazes into the state of women’s rights in China, and documents the way state-sanctioned propaganda...

Viewpoint

04.23.14

From Half the Sky to ‘Leftovers’

Mei Fong & Leta Hong Fincher
The three-plus decades since the inception of the ‘one child’ policy have resulted in a huge female shortage in China. The country is now seriously unbalanced, with 18 million more boys than girls. By 2020, there will be some 30 million surplus men...

Books

03.05.14

Sporting Gender

Yunxiang Gao
When China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics—and amazed international observers with both its pageantry and gold-medal count—it made a very public statement about the country’s surge to global power. Yet, China has a much longer history of using sport to communicate a political message. Sporting Gender is the first book to explore the rise to fame of female athletes in China during its national crisis of 1931-45 brought on by the Japanese invasion. By re-mapping lives and careers of individual female athletes, administrators, and film actors within a wartime context, Gao shows how these women coped with the conflicting demands of nationalist causes, unwanted male attention, and modern fame. While addressing the themes of state control, media influence, fashion, and changes in gender roles, she argues that the athletic female form helped to create a new ideal of modern womanhood in China at time when women’s emancipation and national needs went hand in hand. This book brings vividly to life the histories of these athletes and demonstrates how intertwined they were with the aims of the state and the needs of society. —University of British Columbia Press{chop}  

For China, a New Kind of Feminism

Didi Kristen Tatlow
New York Times
Sheryl Sandberg’s brand of self-strengthening feminism has made its way to China, receiving mixed, but generally positive, reactions among various audiences.

Many Ladies Challenge China’s Traditional Female Image

Alia
Offbeat China
In contrary to the traditional Chinese female image of a cute, submissive and clinging lady, nü han zi is tough enough to take care of herself without a man.  

Media

08.12.13

Is Support for Transgender Rights Increasing in China?

In the last few weeks of July, the story of a young transgender couple who transitioned together, which had previously gone viral in the Western media, trended on Sina Weibo, China’s popular microblogging platform. Although some Chinese netizens...

China’s Entrenched Gender Gap

Leta Hong Fincher
New York Times
China’s figures for working women is high because it includes women working in the countryside, and unlike developed countries, nearly half of China’s population is still rural. The picture for urban women is very different.&...

For Chinese Women, Marriage Depends On Right ‘Bride Price’

Louisa Lim
NPR
Most young men getting married in China today are expected to fork out, often providing an apartment, sometimes a car and a betrothal gift, too. Things were much easier when his parents got married four decades ago. 

Media

03.21.13

The Men Are Louder: A Gender Analysis of Weibo

Does Sina Weibo provide an equal platform for expression for both men and women in China? According to a recent study conducted by Sun Huan, a graduate student in Comparative Media Studies and a research assistant at the Center for Civic Media at...

China Could Fix Its Oversupply Of Men By Letting Gays Marry

Gwynn Guilford
Quartz
China has tens of millions more men of marriageable age than there are women.  Legalizing same-sex marriage would help solve China’s hugely problematic gender imbalance.  

Sinica Podcast

01.25.13

The Call-in Show

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
So our show this week isn’t technically a call-in show, given the lack of phones in our studio, but it is as close as we can get it, so thanks to everyone who sent us a pre-recorded question. We had a lot more responses than we expected, and the...

Women in China Leadership Fewer Than Under Mao

Michael Forsythe and Penny Peng
Bloomberg
The chart of the day shows the falling percentage of women in the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee, a group of about 200 members that includes all seven men on the nation’s top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing...

Features

09.18.12

A Mosque of Their Own

Kathleen McLaughlin
The women of Sangpo know well they are the guardians of a 300-year-old custom that sets them apart in Islam and they are increasingly mindful that economic development could be that tradition’s undoing.Sangpo, a dusty hamlet about two hours from the...

Tale of the Dragon Lady: Gu Kaili

Paul French
Foreign Policy
The press has called her China's Jackie Kennedy, Lady Macbeth, and the Empress. There's been no trial, except by the blogosphere; no real evidence, beyond rumor and innuendo. Yet Gu Kailai, the wife of fallen Politburo member Bo Xilai has...

Books

03.29.12

The Gender of Memory

Gail Hershatter
What can we learn about the Chinese revolution by placing a doubly marginalized group—rural women—at the center of the inquiry? In this book, Gail Hershatter explores changes in the lives of seventy-two elderly women in rural Shaanxi province during the revolutionary decades of the 1950s and 1960s. Interweaving these women’s life histories with insightful analysis, Hershatter shows how Party-state policy became local and personal, and how it affected women’s agricultural work, domestic routines, activism, marriage, childbirth, and parenting—even their notions of virtue and respectability. The women narrate their pasts from the vantage point of the present and highlight their enduring virtues, important achievements, and most deeply harbored grievances. In showing what memories can tell us about gender as an axis of power, difference, and collectivity in 1950s rural China and the present, Hershatter powerfully examines the nature of socialism and how gender figured in its creation. —University of California Press

Books

03.02.12

Cinderella’s Sisters

Dorothy Y. Ko
The history of footbinding is full of contradictions and unexpected turns. The practice originated in the dance culture of China’s medieval court and spread to gentry families, brothels, maid’s quarters, and peasant households. Conventional views of footbinding as patriarchal oppression often neglect its complex history and the incentives of the women involved. This revisionist history, elegantly written and meticulously researched, presents a fascinating new picture of the practice from its beginnings in the tenth century to its demise in the twentieth century. Neither condemning nor defending foot-binding, Dorothy Ko debunks many myths and misconceptions about its origins, development, and eventual end, exploring in the process the entanglements of male power and female desires during the practice's thousand-year history. Throughout her narrative, Ko deftly wields methods of social history, literary criticism, material culture studies, and the history of the body and fashion to illustrate how a practice that began as embodied lyricism—as a way to live as the poets imagined—ended up being an exercise in excess and folly. —University of California Press

The Bottom of the Well

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Do Chinese women, as the Communist Party has held for decades, “hold up half the sky?” Or, like the frog at the bottom of a well in a famous Daoist legend, do they see only a little blue patch? Why is it that tens of millions of them are said to be...