What I think about what Beijingers think about feminism

The following video “Beijingers on Feminism” was uploaded by the Shanghaiist earlier today*. It’s really interesting and I think everyone should watch it.

So what is my take on it? First of all, it is unfortunate that the word “feminism” has such a bad rap here in China. It’s almost as bad as its reputation in America. As an American feminist is China, it is bothersome to hear “yes, I support equal rights,” and “yes, women need to earn the same money for the same pay,” and “yes, I think the way women are treated is archaic” followed by “oh, but I’m not a feminist!” from people in both countries. It really drives me batty.

Sorry to have to tell you this, but if you support any feminist ideals, but reject the term “feminism,” you are actively hurting the very women you claim to support. 

Rejecting “feminism” rejects the people who are taking action to end sexual oppression in the world. To make “feminism” a dirty word, is to make “equality” a dirty word. And to the people who say “why don’t use just use another word” is like saying “well if you don’t like ________ in whatever city you live, why don’t you move?” Why should we have to move? Why should we have to change our name? There is nothing wrong with feminism. Feminism is about equal rights for men and women. Women are not the ones who made “feminism” dirty and we aren’t going to change it. Besides, even if we changed the word, haters would follow. It wouldn’t matter if we were called equalists, femophiles, or the pro-puppy league, the tenets of feminism would stay the same and people who reject equality would continue to hate us. The name isn’t the problem, but we can all work to reclaim it from the muck. This is why I started publically identifying as a feminist, because I do actively support feminist ideals and I don’t need to hide that.
Secondly, I thought it was interesting that all the men in the video rejected the idea of being called “feminists,” not because of their beliefs, but because of their gender. Clearly, men in China need to be more educated about what feminism is and how it benefits men and women. As I said above, feminism is about equality, not about putting one sex above the other, so men can (and should) be feminists, too!. In fact, here are some of the reasons why men need feminism too from Everyday Feminism:

[Men,] have you ever felt:

  • Pressured to be tough, aggressive and competitive beyond your comfort zone?
  • Ashamed of your interest in cooking, fashion, dance, or some other activity because you were told it made you “gay” or “a girl”?
  • Offended by media representations of helpless adult men who cannot feed, clothe, or bathe themselves without the help of a woman?
  • Helpless when dealing with feelings of sadness, hurt, and shame because you were taught to believe that emotions show weakness and that “real men help themselves”?
  • Alone when you suffered an injury but had to “handle it”?
  • Afraid of being called a “sissy,” “wimp,” “f*g,” “p*ssy,” or “b**ch,”?
  • Ambivalent about what it means to be a “real man”?

If even one or two of these is true, then you need feminism.

Overall, I really like the video. It shows that many women in China want and need feminism. It’s clear, though, that we have a long way to go.
*According to YouTube, the video was made by Vera Peneda who works for CCTV News. Of the video, she says. Vox pop, multimedia project Feminism in China, coming up soon.”