Feminism Around the World: Awesome Activists Protest in China

by Kaitlin Cole

Global Times has spotlighted some awesome feminists in China who have recently staged various grassroots protests that go beyond writing articles or giving speeches.  They focus on pressing women’s issues like sexual harassment and workplace and financial inequality. 

China is a more difficult environment to protest in, as feminism is less accepted there than in the United States (and a lot of people in the U.S. aren’t down with feminism either).  As one activist, Song Jialun, explains, “Women are educated to be somebody’s wife and somebody’s mother, but not herself.”

One of the protests, in August of this year, was the “Bald Sisters” protest, in which four female students from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, shaved their heads in order to protest discriminatory admissions rates.  Only a day later, three more girls in Beijing shaved their heads for the same reason, and men and women who had never met the original “Bald Sisters” shaved their heads in solidarity and posted the pictures online.  

One of the “Bald Sisters,” Xiao Meini, explained the head shaving, saying, “Hair has symbolic meaning for women, so a bald head represents a complete break with the traditional social image of a woman.”  

Another protest was started in June after a subway operation in Shanghai posted a message on its blog, accompanied by a picture of a girl in a sheer dress. “It’s no wonder that some people get harassed if they dress like this,” the post said. “There are plenty of gropers on the subway. Please pay attention to how you dress, ladies.”

Feminists were obviously not pleased with the victim-blaming message.  Two protestors walked through the subway carrying signs that read, “Just because I’m slutty doesn’t mean you can be dirty.”

Earlier this year there was another protest, “Occupy the Men’s Room” (love that title), in which women protested the long lines that always seem to accompany women’s public restrooms.  The protestors requested a law that requires a 1:2 toilet ratio for men’s and women’s restrooms.  I’m sure all of us can relate to having to wait in ridiculously long bathroom lines at sporting events or concerts.

For the “Bloody Wedding Gowns” protests, women wore bloody wedding dresses to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Women’s rights are definitely an international issue, with varying degrees of discrimination being faced in different countries.  So it’s encouraging and cool to hear about rad women from around the world protesting the BS that they have to deal with solely because of gender.  These girls are being the change they want to see in the world, and that’s fantastic.

Images via globaltimes.cn & offbeatchina.com

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