About

Fact: The Chinese pronoun for ‘wife’ (fūrén) translates as ‘husband’s person’.

Zhēn de ma? 

Fact: Chinese clinics still offer ‘electroshock’ gay conversion therapy. Many gay men and lesbian women commit to fake marriages to disguise their true sexuality.

Zhēn de ma? 

Fact: 13 million abortions are performed every year in China. 60% of abortions are done for unmarried women under the age of 26.

Zhēn de ma? 

Zhēn de.

真 Zhēn is Mandarin for ‘real’, ‘true’ or ‘genuine’

Zhēn de is roughly pronounced as jen-duh. An accurate pronunciation can be rendered by saying jen in a high, unchanging tone, and the duh with no tone.* The Chinese phrase rhymes closely with the English word gender. Put the Chinese and English side by side, and you have “real gender”.

Zhēn de Gender aims to explore the multiple realities of gender and culture in contemporary Asia.

I am passionate about challenging the gender binary, combatting sexism and fighting for equal rights for women around the world. I have been writing about gender issues for several years, and women’s issues have long taken priority in my reading and research.

One of the phrases that I associate most with learning Chinese, is: 真的马? Zhēn de ma? Which translates as “really?”

When I found myself using the phrase “Zhēn de ma?” increasingly in relation to women’s rights, sexism and other gender-related issues in China, I decided I had to start writing about these problems with a specific focus on Asia.

Living in Beijing, China, this site is a means for me to embrace space-time compression and contribute to global discussion of culture and gender.

Zhēn de Gender started life as something of a life-style blog, named Catherine and the Lion, where I shared personal stories of navigating post-university life. As I began to write for several different platforms, the breadth of content I posted increasing rapidly. A recent re-focus of my interests and aims as a British writer based in China led me to re-brand the site.

* Mandarin is a tonal language, so the pitch of the voice changes the meaning. The same single syllable can be at least five different words, depending on the tone.

To hear proper pronunciation of Zhēn by a native speaker, please follow this link.

One thought on “About”

  1. So pleased you have decided to follow my blog! really chuffed!
    As to zhende/zhendema….I never say zhendema, nor do any Chinese I know, we all just say “zhende?!” in a tone of incredulity. It is such a useful phrase. You can easily fool other Westerners that you speak Chinese if you pretend to be on one end of a phone conversation that goes like this:

    “Wei…”
    Hao de, hao de,……dui, zhende!!! ..ah ah, dui, hao de….zhende? ah, ah, zai jian!”

    Fortunately I am now a little more fluent than that, but if you listen to people talking on their mobiles, you will be surprised how often that accurately reflects the conversation!
    Will be reading your blog regularly.. zai jian!! Herschelian

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exploring the realities of culture and gender in contemporary Asia

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