ChinaFile Presents: Feminist and LGBT Activism in China
NEW YORK, July 28, 2016 — Chinese feminist and LGBTQ activists Li Maizi (Li Tingting) and Di Wang discuss progress in women's equality and gay rights movements in China. They explore how the movements have grappled with traditional social attitudes and interference from authorities, including when Li was detained for 37 days in 2015 for planning an anti-sexual harassment campaign. Journalist Barbara Demick moderates the discussion. (1 hr. 18 min.)
In recent years, a growing movement of feminist and LGBT activists in China has been pushing for greater equality and awareness of discrimination. Their often highly playful visual campaigns — ranging from parading in blood-spattered bridal gowns to protest domestic abuse, to “occupying” men’s rooms to push for more female public toilets — have gone viral and even prompted changes in legislation. But they’ve also drawn unwanted attention from authorities, culminating in the arrest and month-long detention of five prominent feminists, including Li Maizi, ahead of Women’s Day in 2015. Join ChinaFile for a discussion on the state of feminism and LGBT rights in China, and how movements pushing for equality have evolved.
Li Maizi (Li Tingting) has been working with nonprofit organizations and leading “performance art” campaigns in support of feminist and LGBT causes in China since 2011. She was one of the “Feminist Five” arrested in 2015 ahead of Women’s Day for planning to distribute anti-sexual harassment stickers on public transportation and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge that could have resulted in up to ten years in prison if not for her release following an uproar from supporters at home and abroad.
Di Wang has been a queer activist in China since college and is now a Ph.D. student in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with research interests in the areas of gender, sexuality, and social movements, particularly in the emerging new wave of feminist and queer movements in China. She is currently focusing on how marginalized communities like queer women can mobilize around law-related issues (LGBTQ and NGO activities) under an authoritarian government.
Barbara Demick (Moderator) is an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the former Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Beijing. She is the author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, which won the UK’s Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award.
Related Reading on ChinaFile:
“The Education of Detained Chinese Feminist Li Tingting: An Excerpt from ‘China’s Millennials: The Want Generation’,” by Eric Fish
“Dark Days for Women in China? A ChinaFile Conversation,” by Rebecca E. Karl, Leta Hong Fincher, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Eric Fish, Jeremy Goldkorn, Zeng Jinyan, Linda Jaivin, Yaqiu Wang, Dayan Li, Kim Lee, Kathleen McLaughlin, Lijia Zhang, Chang Ping, and Sharron Lovell
“No Women Need Apply: Chinese Women Fight to End Workplace Discrimination,” by Lijia Zhang
“Online Support–and Mockery–Await Chinese Feminists After Release,” by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
“The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory,” edited by Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl, and Dorothy Y. Ko