Book Talk: The Feminist Awakening in China

Colloquium | February 1 | 3 p.m. | UC Berkeley Extension (Golden Bear Center), IEAS Conference Room (510A)

 Leta Hong Fincher

 Lü Pin

 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for 37 days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf, and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Feminist Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists and online warriors that is prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s urban, educated women. In Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China, Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses a unique challenge to China’s authoritarian regime today.

Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other leading Chinese activists, Hong Fincher illuminates both the difficulties they face and their “joy of betraying Big Brother,” as one of the Feminist Five wrote of the defiance she felt during her detention. Tracing the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through the #MeToo movement, and describing how the Chinese government has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles, Betraying Big Brother is a story of how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.

 ccs@berkeley.edu