Feminists in Shanghai celebrate their victory over China’s patriarchy

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/2 17:03:39

Even today, many Chinese women still suffer gender discrimination. Males enjoy unfair advantages in the job market. The unresolved issues of inappropriate gender ratios in public toilets, sexual harassment and domestic violence also plague modern society.

To bring more awareness of gender perspectives and provide a platform for feminism-inspired artists to express themselves, Chair Club hosted the 5th annual Ladyfest Shanghai 2017, a celebration of female and "femme identifying" musicians and performers.

A grass-roots organization, Ladyfest Shanghai was formed by a group of female friends with the mission to create an event that is a celebration of female empowerment aimed at promoting a dialogue for gender equality.

The Shanghai Ladyfest community is part of a global mechanism held in 60 cities across the world. "It is a global concept that brings people together to celebrate women's power, to celebrate girls' freedom," one of the founders of Ladyfest Shanghai, Kerry Long, told the Global Times.

Ladyfest Shanghai attempts to bring an awareness of feminism into Chinese society, without fighting but through celebration. It is a platform to offer opportunities for individuals who usually stay behind to make a step forward and challenge the gender unfairness.

"We support all kinds of individuals, both men and women. We help them develop themselves by doing this platform for all of us," added Long.

Female and "femme identifying" musicians and performers at Ladyfest Shanghai 2017 Photos: Courtesy of the event organizer

Artistic expressions

This year, Ladyfest Shanghai brought together more than 10 females whose artistic expressions span jazz, rock, soul, hip-hop, spiritual music and mandala dancing. Although the name of the event brought the idea of grand celebration, its real format was more about relaxing and enjoying a circle of like-minded people.

The cozy environment and spiritually enriching performances fostered mutual inspiration, exchange of experiences and visions of femininity and equality. The event welcomed people of any gender. Tied to the global vision of Ladyfest, the concert created a synergistic community that supports and empowers freedom of expression beyond constraints of culture, race or gender identity.

Actualizing women's rights dialogue in China hasn't always been easy due to the specific features of Chinese culture. Confucian values dictate a system where men have authority in the political, family and religious spheres of everyday life. Thus, women in China traditionally were considered essentially obedient and submissive to men.

In addition, closely linked with class issues, the terms "man" and "woman" were assumed to be socially constructed categories. In this manner, feminism in socialist China suffered misconceptions between "equality" and sameness.

However, in the 21st century, in tandem with the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the concept of gender equality started gaining traction. "With the rise of the peasant movement, women in many places have now begun to organize rural women's associations; the opportunity has come for them to lift up their heads," Mao Zedong noted in his "Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan" later in March 1927.

Female and "femme identifying" musicians and performers at Ladyfest Shanghai 2017

Taitai power!

In modern China, where men and women walk shoulder to shoulder in all walks of life, they are considered to have the same rights. Nowadays, Chinese women have a right to education; to vote; to have equal rights in family law; to be free from sexual violence; to work; and to own property.

What is more, in Chinese megalopolises such as Shanghai, women are even famous for their superior qualities in terms of running businesses and personal relationships. "In China, a Shanghainese wife (taitai) is a synonym for a woman with high maintenance cost and who is not willing to do any housework. Shanghai women are thought to be more independent and a little more business oriented," wrote blogger Zhang Li on his website "My new Chinese wife."

However, despite the legally established concept of gender equality in China, Chinese women are not truly equal to their male counterparts. There are still women's rights violations taking place behind the scenes. Nonetheless, feminist campaigns like Ladyfest Shanghai are trying their best to muster public support.

This article was written by Catherine Valley

Female and "femme identifying" musicians and performers at Ladyfest Shanghai 2017

Newspaper headline: Ladyfest!


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