What Is Made-in-China Feminism(s)? Gender Discontent and Class Friction in Post-Socialist China
Critical Asian Studies, DOI: 10.1080/14672715.2019.1656538, 2019
26 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 9, 2019
Contemporary Chinese feminism has drawn much attention in academe and popular media, yet its ontological roots and the politics of naming has largely escaped scrutiny. To intervene, this paper first demonstrates that China’s post-socialist transition gives rise to a new gendered structure of power, in response to which urban young women have assembled various discursive and material practices in their struggles. Second, we argue that the social disrupture and shock caused by these practices have led to the popular perception that an undifferentiated “feminism” has been proliferating in contemporary China. Combining historiographical and ethnographic research, we map out the overall landscape of women’s agitations and identified two latent strands of “made-in-China feminism” — with varied sociopolitical significance — that engage with cultural norms at the grassroots level. We further explicate the ways in which the anti-feminist backlash attempts to contain female transgressions at the present conjuncture. In grasping China’s ongoing gender antagonism with its full complexity, this paper discusses the limitations of existing scholarly approaches to contemporary Chinese feminism. Ultimately, our analysis seeks to contribute to the ongoing conversation on imagining a feminist politics in non-Western societies that disrupts the political, economic, and cultural orders all at once.
Keywords: gender, class, feminism, China, postsocialism, neoliberalism, hegemony
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