Feminists without Feminism: Women’s Online Movement in Contemporary China

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2022

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With the widespread stigmatization of “women’s rights” in China, I observed that young women increasingly reject the identification of “feminists.” In comparison, some of them voice their opinions on social media advocate for “feminist” agenda, such as demands for equal employment opportunities and an end to sexual harassment. This thesis focuses on a cultural phenomenon, which I call “feminist without feminism.” I argue that “feminism without feminists” is symptomatic of the failure of both state feminism and Western neoliberal feminism to address daily issues confronting Chinese women today. Social media provides the space for them to challenge patriarchy on a micro-level, sometimes by strategically avoiding being targeted by censorship or vilified by misogynist netizens. Moreover, I believe this feminism-from-below constitutes a postmodernist/postsocialist rejection of any singular feminist metanarrative. With guerilla-like decentralized tactics, “feminism without feminists” is a creative and strategic form of online activism

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Li, Jinyi (2022). Feminists without Feminism: Women’s Online Movement in Contemporary China. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25366.

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