Tag: Feminism

How a Cosmetics Company is Subverting the Chinese State

How a Cosmetics Company is Subverting the Chinese State

An ad by cosmetics company SK-II recently went viral in China. The ad tackles the topic of “leftover women,” women in China who are not married by age 25. Watch the ad below.

The ad has had millions of views and has sparked debate and discussion around the country. Some people believe the ad is empowering. Some think it is pandering. Personally, I think the ad is daring not only because it empowers women, but because it directly undermines the Chinese government.

The derogatory term “leftover women” (剩女; shèngnǚ;) was coined over a decade ago by the All-China Women’s Association, an organization that was founded in 1949 as the leader of the women’s rights movement but has become little more than a Party mouthpiece to help keep women in their place. The term refers to women over 25 (it was 27, but apparently the age has been lowered in recent years) who are not yet married and thus unlikely to get married. Even though these women are typically not married because they have been furthering their education and careers, they are considered a drain on society because they are not getting married and giving birth to the next generation. Even though China’s explosive rate of leftover men is a much larger problem, shengnan (剩男) are not similarly criticized and the term doesn’t hold the same meaning. Men can get married at any time in their lives and are expected to get married later as they pursue their careers. Since there are at least 20 million more men in China than women, it is unavoidable that many of these men will never marry.

Leftover men are viewed victims who don’t have a choice but to remain single; leftover women are viewed selfish for choosing to remain single.

The Chinese government has been behind this calculated attack on urban, educated women from the beginning. China has been hurtling toward a demographic disaster since the inception of the one-child policy in 1979, but China has only been taking steps to correct this course in recent years. By focusing on “leftover women,” the Chinese government was able to shift the blame the countries lack of employees to women who are getting jobs instead of getting husbands and pivot away from blame on the one-child policy. o-CHINESE-STUDENTS-facebook“Yes, we are in a bad situation, but it wouldn’t be this bad if those women were hunting for husbands as hard as they are hunting for jobs,” the government seems to say. By not taking one of the millions of leftover men into her bed and giving birth to the next generation of Chinese workers, unmarried women in China are not doing their duty for the Chinese State.

The Chinese government has even ramped up its attacks on unmarried women in recent years. Especially since the adoption of the two-child policy, you expect to see more attacks against “leftover women” because these women are actively working against China’s efforts to increase its population.

I’m surprised that the SK-II ad was approved by Chinese censors and it hasn’t been removed. The message that women don’t need to get married or have kids is totally contrary to the message the Chinese government has been sending women for over a decade.

And that is why this ad is so subversive. This ad glorifies the leftover woman. It empowers them. It calms their parents’ fears. It tells women that they can be good Chinese daughters on their own. And that’s pretty awesome.

Top 10 Posts of 2014

Top 10 Posts of 2014

Well, I for one am happy to see the back of 2014. As much as I love living in Shenzhen, it is so much better than living in Changsha, 2014 was one nightmare of a  year.

But the blog and my writing career are doing much better, which is awesome. So, in case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts from 2014.

1) Be aware of the boob massage.

This is a post I actually wrote almost two years ago, in Jan 2013, but it consistently drives traffic. It didn’t have the most hits in a single day, but over time it has received more hits than any other post. I guess I should write more posts about boobs.

2) The Housekeeper From Hell – Beware of Annie LQQ Photo20141225144909aw.

This post was my highest hitting for a single day ever, at 995 posts (my OCD freaked out at seeing that number). My goal was to warn other people about the dangers of being too trusting when hiring ayis and to warn expats in Shenzhen about Annie specifically. The hits on the blog were nice though. Guess I need more traumatic events to happen more often.

changsha-pooper-300x1803) It’s Not OK to let your kids poop in public. 

Seeing kids poop and pee in public is all too common in China. And far too many people try to dismiss such behavior as cultural. It isn’t. It’s disgusting, rude, and unsanitary. It needs to stop.

4) Penny Dreadful is Pretty Dreadful – Part One and Part Two

I love the Victorian era, so Penny Dreadful raised a lot of hopes for fans of the genre that it would be an awesome show. Alas, it was pretty terrible, especially since it aired at the same time as Ripper Street and Copper, two shows that were excellent representations of the genre that were cancelled too soon.  In fact, I think it’s pretty terrible that the show that showed women and minorities in the worst light was renewed while Ripper Street and Copper, which both elevated the roles of women and minorities, were cancelled. It says a lot about our society, and nothing good.

5) Book Review: Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity in Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost.

This really old post (from 2012), and I’m glad to see it still getting so much traffic because this is possibly the worst book written about China. I still get mad just thinking about. The book is just so wrong on so many levels, I can’t stand it.

photo-224x3006) Erotic, Antique Chinese Art (NSFW)

Ok, ok, this article is a bit of clickbait since you can find so many more examples of erotica around the web, but I just had to share this artwork I found in Macau. I should have bought the damn thing.

7) Why China Needs Feminism – So All People Can be Held Responsible for Their Actions.

I’ve done a few posts on why China needs feminism, but this one was the most popular, and one that had me fuming. Not only was a 16-year-old girl raped and the man not charged, the girl gave birth to twins and the rapist is not legally responsible for the children! Read this one to get your blood boiling.

385320_194877007320481_683405251_n8) A Visit to a Karen Hilltribe Village.

This post was part of my Two Americans in China in Thailand series from almost two years ago (I can’t believe our Thailand trip was two years ago!). The trip was amazing and I highly recommend people interested in traveling abroad to go to Thailand. Beautiful country, fascinating history and culture, and delicious food! Out of all my posts about Thailand, though, I think this one is the most popular because of the amazing pictures. When we visited the Karen people, I felt like I worked for National Geographic. The people are beautiful and the “giraffe neck women” are something I never thought I would see in my life. Really amazing trip.

9) China’s New Two-Child Policy Leading to More Sex-Selective Abortions?

This was one of the most depression posts of the year. China recently relaxed some rules regarding the one-child policy to allow more families to have two children. While this is far more of a pittance than many people think it is, it quickly starting some very disturbing trends, including more abortions of female fetuses.

10) Why Guangzhou Closing Its Baby Hatch Changes Nothing.

In China, often the most helpless receive the least amount of help. Child abandonment is rampant here. In the past, babies were usually abandoned because they were girls. While this still happens, the largest number of babies that are abandoned have health issues. Some of the health issues are simple and can be easily corrected while others are life-threatening. China’s one-child policy and the country’s worthless health care system both contribute to this sad state of affairs.

Thanks so much for reading! Be sure to keep up with all the news and posts here at Two Americans in China through our mailing list, Facebook, and Twitter. Here’s to a great 2015!

Surprise, Bustle, breastfeeding isn’t shamed in China

Surprise, Bustle, breastfeeding isn’t shamed in China

f04da2db148414e2aabf53I’ve been casually following the debates surrounding the topic of mothers breastfeeding in public in the U.S. I say casually because it isn’t something that affects me personally, but is a frequent topic on websites that center around women and feminism, so I read the stories but don’t generally get worked up about it. But I just read a story over on Bustle that really hit a nerve. I have never been to that site before, so I don’t know if it typically publishes this kind of garbage or if it is a fluke. The title asked “Are breastfeeding curtain on Chinese public buses pro-woman or anti-feminist?” I took the bait and clicked. The article is about how a bus company in Zhejiang Province installed curtains for nursing mothers who wished to use them. There really isn’t a story here. Mothers are not forced to use them, some women appreciate them, others just don’t use them, so…I got nothing.

The part that pissed me off, though, was where the writer, Aria Bendix, said, “In a climate where public breastfeeding is often met with dirty looks and occasionally being asked to leave a restaurant or store, what does it mean that women are encouraged to hide behind a curtain in order to feed their children?”

It’s pretty clear that Bendix has NO FUCKING CLUE what is going on in the world outside of a few buzzy news stories in the U.S. In China, there is no anti-breastfeeding climate. Women are allowed to breastfeed their kids whenever, wherever they want and no one treats them with disdain. The only problem with breastfeeding in China is that the rates are too low because of a culture that believes formula is better and most new mothers work. Almost anywhere you see kids, you will see a mother breastfeeding and no one gives it a second thought. It’s a baby, and it’s eating. No one cares.

Aria Bendix, you need to step back and realize that just because a few shitty Americans have a very narrow cultural view of something does not mean people on the other side of the world have similar beliefs, issues, or problems. You should learn more about a culture before you impose your erroneous, predetermined understanding on it and hold it up as click bait.

What’s in a name? Surnames, China, and Feminism

What’s in a name? Surnames, China, and Feminism

last-name-300x253My surname is not my husband’s surname. My surname is not the surname I was born with. My surname I took from my first husband. I kept it after the divorce because by that time the name was mine. I went to university as Amanda Roberts. All of my years of hard work were under that name. All of my scholarship was under that name. All of my professors, professional contacts, and friends knew me by that name. My degrees are in that name. Like Tina Turner, who kept her husband’s surname after her divorce, I embraced the name as mine. It’s mine and who I am.

My surname has never been an issue for me or my husband. In fact, it never really occurred to him that I might take his name. He even forgets that my family has a different surname than me. The only hiccup is when people meet me first and then my husband, they sometimes call him “Mr. Roberts,” but we usually just laugh it off and politely correct them (I don’t think anyone has ever accidentally called me “Mrs. Anderson,” but don’t even get me started on the “Mrs.” thing. I hate that prefix so much.). No one has ever been rude or overly inquisitive about it, but maybe it is just a small learning experience for people about making assumptions. But for some women, whether or not to take a husband’s surname upon marriage is a big freaking deal. Today, Huff Post Women put up an interesting article sharing the experiences of women who didn’t take their husbands’ surnames and the various responses they have gotten. It’s an interesting read. I found number 6 weird, though. As a couple who travels extensively, my husband and I have never had issues with boarder crossings, passports, or visas because of having different surnames. I think she is probably exaggerating the “problems.”

The article really stood out to me, though, because Zoe (my goddaughter) and I had a long talk about surnames just last weekend. The only issue with having two surnames in our family is what name do we give the kids (when they arrive). Anderson? Roberts-Anderson? Something totally new like Zarkov?
babyWe haven’t settled on a solid answer yet, but we still have plenty of time.  In China, surnames are much more fluid than in the West. According to Zoe, Chinese women never take their husband’s name. I don’t know if that is exactly true because I have met a few women who have the same last name as their husbands here. However, there is not as much variety in family names in China as there is in America, so it is possible that those couples just happened to have the same surname before they married. It wasn’t something I ever thought to ask at the time. Anyway, for me and my husband to have different surnames is completely normal in China, which I find refreshing.

When it comes to the children, though, there is a lot of flexibility. Chinese children do not automatically take their father’s name. According to Zoe, children will often take the family name of the half of the family who is higher class or has more money.  With Zoe, for example, she took her father’s name, but several of her cousins have their mothers’ name. Another option is that the children take the family name of whichever side of the family lives closest to them and provides the most care. Since the one-child policy came into effect and since most women in China work outside the home, it is extremely common for one pair of grandparents to live with (or very close) to their adult children to help care for the baby. If the primary grandparents are the mother’s parents, the baby might take their name regardless of social hierarchy.

I think the fluidity of a person’s name is intimately tied with gender and identity. At one time in most Western cultures, a woman was considered the property of men and her name reflected her ownership, be it her father or husband. Chinese culture, too, has always been painfully patriarchal, so a woman kept the name of her father to keep her tied to her birth family. But a woman’s identity shouldn’t depend on her relationships to the men in her world. She should have the right to strike out and forge her own identity. The same is true of men. An increasing number of men in the West are taking their wives’ names, choosing a new identity that reflects them and the family they want to create separate from the name of their fathers. For children, what surname they have at birth shouldn’t be the most pressing concern on a person’s list since they might change it themselves one day anyway.

What do you think? Did you change your name when you married? If not, have you faced problems or gotten flack? Did you have trouble settling on a surname for your kids? I’d love to hear your stories and opinions!

Beijing College Students Advertise The Vagina Monologues With Their Vaginas

Beijing College Students Advertise The Vagina Monologues With Their Vaginas

vagina 1What the Vagina say? According to female students from Beijing Foreign Studies University, many things. To promote their upcoming performance of The Vagina Monologues (which EVERYONE should see!), the girls took pictures of themselves holding signs with phrases like “my vagina says: I can be sexy, but you can’t harass me,” and “my vagina says, “someone can enter if I say so.”

Rock on, ladies!

Of course, in typical misogynist fashion, many internet users have completely missed the point and have decided these girls are all sluts in need of public shaming. But unlike the sea of cowardly internet trolls out there, these girls clearly demonstrate that talking about sexuality and taking control of your sexual identity is nothing to be ashamed of and proudly show their faces. China needs feminism, and this is exactly the kind it needs.

"My vagina says: Virginity is bullshit!"
“My vagina says: Virginity is bullshit!”
The Vagina Monologues has been shown around China since 2009, though often advertised with the word “vagina” censored. But that isn’t unique to China. In America it is still often referred to in ads a “The V Monologues.”
"My vagina says: I want respect!"
“My vagina says: I want respect!”

You can see all of the original pictures the students posted on Sina Weibo, but the site is in Chinese.

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