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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 international symbols, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. Journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher sees the Five as heralds of a much larger feminist movement of civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists, and online advocates prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s educated, urban women. Hong Fincher arrives at Town Hall to share perspectives from her book Betraying Big Brother, describing how the Communist regime has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles—and revealing how such a 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. Sit in with Hong Fincher as she traces the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through #MeToo, and explores how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.
Leta Hong Fincher is a journalist and scholar who has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, Guardian, Ms. Magazine, the BBC and CNN. She is the author of Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle as part of the 2019 Homecoming Festival.