Gendering the Nation and Nationalizing Gender/Sexuality in Contemporary China
1: "Boxers Made-in China": Patriotism, Androphobia, and Pink Feminism of an Online Community
Friday, March 25, 2022
3:30pm – 5:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of Chicago, United States
In 2020, the prevalence of social violence against women in China including sexual harassments, wife murder cases, and revisions of divorce law led many feminists to call it the “witch-hunting year”, noticing the degrading status of gender equality compared to ten years ago. On the other hand, awakened by the spates of disturbing social events, online communities such as Douban and Weibo have witnessed waves of pro-feminism discussions as well as a bourgeoning group of young feminist netizens who proudly call themselves “female boxers” (nv quan shi)-- an anti-stigmatization move since many misogynists in China used “boxer” as a derogatory term for feminists. However, in contrast to their liberal-activist predecessors, these newly emerging feminist netizens display an unprecedented patriotism toward the Chinese nation while strongly criticizing the state’s unjust treatment of women. Although many of them blame gender inequality on the patriarchal tradition of Chinese society, they refuse to admit any foreign (liberalist) influence, but appeal to a socialist feminist tradition particularly “made in China.”. How should one make sense of their critique of patriarchal structure combined with a deep distrust of “Chinese men,”, yet, maintaining a steadfast belief in the “Chinese nation”? Based on data collected from an online community with methods of digital ethnography, I argue in this paper that not only should such patriotic feminism be understood as self-protecting strategies facing the state’s crackdown on liberal feminists, it also suggests an alternative path of female self-authorization redefining personhood, rights, and power outside the bounds of liberal politics.