Women's rights stuck in mire of outdated values

By Ke Qianting Source:Global Times Published: 2012-10-8 19:45:03

With the social development of China, especially after the establishment of the PRC and the 1995 World Conference on Women, women in China have been granted basic civil rights such as education, work and political participation.

Since 1995, China has set up a number of organizations on women's affairs, and the women's liberation movement should have developed rapidly. However, the movement has stagnated.

The sense of gender equality has not yet been realized. Education on gender has not started in primary and middle schools. The basic role of women is still focused on femininity, but not on being independent individuals and citizens. The idea that women are citizens who have basic rights and can take part in social affairs is not commonly acknowledged.

Many literary works which call for the rights of women have been interpreted only as talking about the repression of their day. The media has focused extensively on extra-marital affairs. Many social problems have been blamed on women. Female sexuality has become a taboo.

Besides, feminism has been demonized. Feminists have been misrepresented as those who hate men and have a strong desire for power. However, what feminists fight for is equality in the current social system.

Facing rigid social classification and sexual discrimination, women can only resort to the protection of traditional notions of the family if they cannot go further in their jobs. We should not blame them for their "laziness" and "greed," but should discuss how to make them strive for a better life.

Cultural and systematic elements also block women's development. There are many talented and successful women in society, but they feel regret for not being able to look after families or find a true love. Women, though economically liberated, are still restrained by the cultural cage.

There is a long way to go for women's liberation. The power to realize it comes from consistent efforts by women of different social standing and who have different demands.

Women should take part in the establishment of a civil society and shoulder responsibility in the process of social reforms. Women's liberation not only brings benefits for women themselves, but also acts as a driving force for social development.

If women's potential and capabilities can be viewed as important human resources for national development, there will be more men supporting the struggle for their rights.

The author is an associate professor at the Chinese Department of Sun Yat-Sen University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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