Contrary to (mainly western) feminist paradigms, for Chinese women the advent of birth control is not automatically synonymous with “freedom”. Within the collective cultural memory, family planning holds the cultural weight of painful state control, as legislation to reduce family sizes in the early Maoist period was enforced through forceful means.
Thirty-one Months Later: Adapting to Life in China
When I first arrived in Beijing in September 2014, I knew almost nothing about the country I’d just moved to. I was embarking on a new life that didn’t seem to have a sell-by date – I had no idea how long I’d stay or even when I would next go home. While many of [...]
Hedonism, Reproductive Health, and Fighting Repatriation: Lijia Zhang on her Debut Novel Lotus (Interview: Part 3)
They refuse to use femidoms because they are too big to swallow. In a raid, sex workers will swallow any condoms they have on their person, because condoms (used or unused) will be used as hard evidence by the police.
Ovaries: Putting Reproductive Health on the Line at Work
I’ve vowed to myself that my body is my public, political sphere as well as my private, personal sphere. It’s my mannequin on which to display my beliefs, my vehicle in the fight for gender rights, my pathway to strength and to weakness. I’m not afraid to bare the truth to the world. What doesn’t help is feeling that the system is pitted against me because I speak a different language, because I am a foreigner, and because I am a woman.
Sexuality, Contraception and Challenging the Patriarchy: Lijia Zhang on her debut novel Lotus (Interview: part 2)
Inspired by her grandmother’s deathbed confession of being sold to a brothel, Lijia Zhang injects her cutting social criticism into her first novel, Lotus. The book delves deep into the sex industry in contemporary Shenzhen, following a young migrant woman, Lotus, who is eager to escape her life as a prostitute.
Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair Photo is Exactly What Feminists are Fighting For
British actor and pioneer of the UN’s HeForShe campaign, Emma Watson has faced criticism for the publication of a photo in which her breasts are partially exposed. The image is one of a series taken by acclaimed fashion photographer Tim Walker, with styling by Jessica Diehl. It accompanied Watson’s recent cover story interview for Vanity [...]
Betel nut is Burma (Myanmar)'s most common addiction. Little parcels of tobacco and Areca nuts wrapped in lime-coated betel leaves are passed around and chewed. Coating leaves in lime, Yangon, Burma, Jan 2017 © ZhendeGender Betel is commonly chewed by cab drivers who use the drug concoction to stay awake for long hours on the [...]
How did gender, culture and politics balance out in 2016?
2016 was characterized by sexism across the board, from President-elect Trump and Duterte to the Olympics and the music industry. But the world has made some serious strides towards equality and liberation in 2016, with female heads of state taking power worldwide, and women standing strong together in the face of adversity.
May Thant on gender roles in sex and marriage in contemporary Burma (interview: part 2)
If I got pregnant or had children before I got married? I would get shame, and my parents wouldn’t call me their daughter.
Words and Women: Gloria Steinem
What would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? Downloadable copy of Steinem's 1978 essay If Men Could Menstruate.