Long U.S.-China Institute: The Feminist Awakening in China

Tuesday, January 22 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Humanities Gateway, 1010

Hosted by the Long U.S. China Institute

Based on her latest book, Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher will delve into the feminist movement taking place in today's China, from its development to the implications of its rise.

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for thirty-seven days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists, and online warriors prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s educated, urban women. In Betraying Big Brother, Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses the greatest challenge to China’s authoritarian regime today.

Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other leading Chinese activists, Hong Fincher illuminates both the difficulties they face and their “joy of betraying Big Brother,” as one of the Feminist Five wrote of the defiance she felt during her detention. Tracing the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through the #MeToo movement, and describing how the Communist regime has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles, Betraying Big Brother is a story of how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.

Speaker Bio

Leta Hong Fincher has written for the New York TimesWashington Post, The GuardianDissent MagazineMs. Magazine, BBC, CNN and others. She won the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for her China reporting.

Fluent in Mandarin, Hong Fincher is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University's Department of Sociology in Beijing. She has a master's degree from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree with high honors from Harvard University. Hong Fincher’s second book, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso), was named one of the best books of 2018 by Vanity FairNewsweek, Bitch Media, Foreign Policy Interrupted and Autostraddle.

Leta's first book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed 2014), was named one of the top 5 China books of 2014 by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile, one of the best foreign policy books in 2014 by FP Interrupted and one of the best Asian books of 2014 by Asia House. Leftover Women was named on New Left Review's list of favorite books to read for International Women's Day in 2017 and 2016. In 2018, it was named on Time Out Beijing's list of best books on women in modern China.

Named by the Telegraph as an "awesome woman to follow on Twitter," Hong Fincher was a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University and recently moved to New York.

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