Lu Pin, a trailblazing feminist leader in China, founded Feminist Voices, an online journal devoted to women’s issues, in 2009 when she felt it was time to speak out against the Chinese government’s lack of policy regarding LGBT and women’s issues.
Pin, a visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, addressed Boston College students in a talk about her feminist activism in her home country of China on Wednesday evening. The event is a part of the Daniel C. Morrissey ’88 and Chanannait Paisansathan, MD, Lecture Series in Asian Studies and was hosted by the Asian studies program and the history department.
“I received messages from many people,” she said regarding her feminist work in China. “I had found a community I had never heard from before—Chinese feminists. By 2011, a new feminist community was coming together.”
The creation of Pin’s feminist journal and the emergence of a more vocal feminist movement in China prompted groups of small women to protest against domestic and sexual violence in China.
The first of these demonstrations took place on Valentine’s Day in 2012. A group of women dressed in bloody bridal gowns marched the streets of Beijing to protest the prevalence of domestic violence in relationships in China. The women who marched had personally witnessed or dealt with domestic violence and spoke out against how acceptable these acts were. For too long, Chinese women have suffered in silence, they said. The slogan of the march was “Love is not an excuse for violence,” and the women chanted this phrase as they walked through the streets.
“We need to develop more ways to organize to gain more participation. As long as the movement has a strong goal, we can create change.”
Pin also discussed the “Bald Sisters” protest that took place in Guangzhou. To take action against discriminatory admission rates at the university in Guangzhou, a small group of women shaved their heads and held signs, speaking out against the difference in gender criteria to enter the university. Women would have to score higher than men on the exams to be admitted to the university.
In response, the Bald Sisters took action and spoke out against these unfair policies. Questioning Chinese authority openly was extremely risky, so many women supported the movement online, posting pictures of their shaven heads on social media. To the women’s delight, the minister of education eliminated a majority of the gender biased policies in the university’s admission.
“Feminism is still considered radical in China,” Pin said. “Because it is considered radical, the movement has attracted some bold, young people.”
Five young Chinese women who were bold enough to hold protests in China were arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to the Chinese government. Once news of their arrests became public, #FreeTheFive became a trending topic on social media. Although the women were released on bail, they remain under close surveillance by the Chinese government.
“I think this is a very difficult time for feminist activism globally. People should start at a small scale an attack the patriarchy at different places,” Pin said.
Pin hopes American feminists will pay attention to the feminist movement in China. In the age of the Internet, she encouraged BC students to support the cause via social media. The main page for the feminist activism in China is called “Free Chinese Feminists” and has over 5,000 likes.
Despite some setbacks, Pin has a positive attitude toward the growing feminist movement in China.
“We need to develop more ways to organize to gain more participation,” she said. “As long as the movement has a strong goal, we can create change.”
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor