Feminism and gender roles in China

beijing-20170104-4Emily Ortiz

On our first day in Beijing, we visited the Communication University of China. There, we attended a seminar with some of the faculty and staff from the Institute of Art. We had the opportunity to discuss a wide variety of topics, and since there was no set itinerary, we could discuss just about anything we wanted. The topics ranged from fake news, to university school songs, to Chinese media, and we even got to speak on the topic of feminism.

Feminism and all things related are topics about which I am most passionate. I am always looking to debate and have a constructive conversation, and I always want to come out having learned something and hopefully having taught someone else.

It is widely known that, in China, men are favored over women. In fact, when the one-child policy was enacted in China, it was said that women were having abortions if it was found that they were having a girl, in the hopes that they could try again for a boy. According to an article from BBC, there were 1.16 boys born for every girl in China, and that “sexually selective abortions” may have been the cause of this.

When the topic of feminism came up during the seminar, I was more than happy to share my opinion. According to the definition of feminism, it seeks for equality of the sexes in every single aspect. If a man can make $40,000 a year at a job, a woman should be able to make $40,000 at the same job. If a man is expected to serve his country in the event of a war (draft or willing service) a woman should be expected to do the same. Similarly, if a man or a woman feels that they should be able to dress a certain way to express themselves, regardless of whether or not it is traditionally expressive of that gender, or regardless if someone else feels that they are showing too much or too little skin, that should be their decision and theirs alone.

The different ideas regarding gender roles worldwide are fascinating to me, and it was interesting to learn how the Chinese people view men and women in their society. I greatly enjoyed sharing my views on the topic and hearing what they had to say as well.


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