“Fascinating…revealing…riveting”

"In Hong Fincher’s estimation, the official hostility toward feminists in China as part of a global rise of authoritarianism and backsliding of democracy will affect not only China’s women but its economic future and will have worldwide repercussions. This is a fascinating and earnest book." - Publishers Weekly Review of Betraying Big Brother

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for 37 days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf, and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Feminist Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists and online warriors that is prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s urban, educated women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses a unique threat to China’s authoritarian regime today.

Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other leading Chinese activists, Hong Fincher illuminates both the challenges they face and their “joy of betraying Big Brother,” as Wei Tingting—one of the Feminist Five—wrote of the defiance she felt during her detention. Tracing the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through the #MeToo movement, and describing how the Communist regime has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles, Betraying Big Brother is a story of how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.

Advance praise

A vital and necessary book in a world hostile to women and girls. Leta Hong Fincher’s account of a powerful network of activists is a foundational text on feminism in contemporary China, rich with scholarship and a grasp of history. It is a book to inspire and to guide all of us who insist on fighting the patriarchy globally.
— Mona Eltahawy, author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution
A provocative, sharp-edged account of Beijing’s push to cajole women to marry and fix the country’s sagging birth rates. A must-read for students of feminism.

— Mei Fong, author of One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment
Writing with rigor, passion, and indignation, Hong Fincher introduces a group of Chinese feminist activists who refuse to be intimidated by China’s powerful patriarchal state. Offering a detailed account of the women’s critiques of increasing gender inequality in China, Betraying Big Brother is a singular account of a Chinese—and now global—movement that will not be silenced
— Rebecca E. Karl, author of Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth Century
In Betraying Big Brother, Leta Hong Fincher unlocks a fundamental truth: the subjugation of women is a key feature of authoritarian power. But in telling the harrowing story of the detention of China’s Feminist Five, she may also have discovered the strongman’s Achilles’ Heel: a broad-based feminist movement poses an existential threat to a patriarchal state.
— Rebecca MacKinnon, author of Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom
In her vivid and comprehensive work on China’s emerging feminist movement, Leta Hong Fincher explores the coming of age of a generation of young activists in an authoritarian state increasingly hostile to social protest. A must-read for all seeking to understand China’s feminist activists, hear their voices, and experience the day-to-day reality of their lives.
— Carl Minzer, author of End of an Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival Is Undermining Its Rise

Leta's first book, the critically acclaimed Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed 2014), was named one of the top 5 China books of 2014 by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile, one of the best foreign policy books in 2014 by FP Interrupted and one of the best Asian books of 2014 by Asia House. Leftover Women was named on New Left Review's list of favorite books to read for International Women's Day in 2017 and 2016. In 2018, it was named on Time Out Beijing's list of best books on women in modern China. 

 Photo by: Nora Tejada

Photo by: Nora Tejada

Leta has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine, BBC, CNN and others. She is the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for television feature reporting. Fluent in Mandarin, Leta is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University's Department of Sociology in Beijing. She has a master's degree from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree with high honors from Harvard University. She has often been quoted by news organizations such as BBC, CNN, Washington Post, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, TIME and The Economist on the subject of women and feminism in China. Named by the Telegraph as an "awesome woman to follow on Twitter," Leta was a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University and recently moved to New York.