Xi Jinping’s authoritarian rise in China has been powered by sexism

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China’s strongman authoritarianism under President Xi Jinping has taken an alarming turn for the worse. With Sunday’s announcement that China’s Communist Party will abolish presidential term limits, Xi is poised to stay in office beyond the end of his second term and likely be China’s paramount ruler for many years to come.

China Dropped Its One-Child Policy. So Why Aren’t Chinese Women Having More Babies?

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In late 2015, when China eased its decades-long policy limiting most couples to having only one child, some heralded the change as a move toward greater reproductive freedom. But the government was only embarking on another grand experiment in population engineering: This time it was urging women — though only the right sort — to reproduce for China.

China Is Attempting To Muzzle #MeToo

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When Xiao Meili entered her freshman year at the Communication University of China in 2008, she was inundated with sexist messages that made her feel bad about herself.

"In high school, we were never allowed to wear makeup, then when we started university, all of a sudden, becoming a 'pretty woman' became a very important responsibility," said Xiao. "I tried hard but it was just impossible for me to live up to all these ridiculous standards placed on women."

Dissent Magazine fall issue 2016: China's Feminist Five

When Chinese police detained feminist activist Li Maizi on the night of March 6, 2015, they held her in a small, unheated room of a Beijing police station, with the temperature falling to below freezing. The interrogations began immediately: Why was she organizing subversive activities about sexual harassment? Who was she working with? Who funded her organization, Yirenping? Li was freezing, hungry, and angry. She refused to cooperate with the men interrogating her.

CNN: China's 'leftover women' choosing to stay single

After years of being badgered by her parents to get married, 26-year-old Zhang Yu finally had enough.

"I have decided never to marry or have a child," said Zhang, a university graduate from Changsha, Hunan province, who moved to Shanghai earlier this year to escape her family and jumpstart her career.

Zhang's vow to never marry is rare in a country where educated women are constantly told by their families, friends and the state media that they will be lonely and miserable if they do not find a husband quickly.

Yet some women are fighting back by rejecting marriage altogether.

Dissent Magazine: Women’s Rights at Risk

On the face of it, Wu Mei (not her real name) represents the modern Chinese woman who has achieved spectacular success. Just thirty-one years old, she makes around one million RMB (roughly $150,000) a year as an attorney in Beijing, a salary that likely places her in the top 1 percent income bracket in China. Slender and beautiful, she could be the perfect cover model for a magazine feature on “China’s richest women.” Yet, as she speaks, a darker picture emerges. Wu recently managed to obtain a divorce from her abusive husband after five years of marriage, but only by giving up her home, her life savings, and most of her belongings.

NYT: Missing out on a real estate boom

  Chinese parents will help a male relative buy a home before a daughter. Searching real estate listings in Hong Kong. (ALEX HOFFORD FOR THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE)

Chinese parents will help a male relative buy a home before a daughter. Searching real estate listings in Hong Kong. (ALEX HOFFORD FOR THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE)

SHANGHAI — Wendy is a sales manager in Shanghai, and until last year, she was in control of her destiny. Wendy, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, had saved tens of thousands of yuan after graduating from a university and was about to realize her dream of home ownership by making a down payment on an apartment in Shanghai. Then her parents persuaded her to help her male cousin buy a house instead.

Ms Magazine: Wives Caught in China’s “Web of Abuse”

When Wang Mei’s husband first hit her in their Shanghai home, Wang (a pseudonym) instantly acted to protect herself and her newborn baby by calling 110, China’s number for emergency help. That call unleashed a torrent of retaliatory violence and harassment, not just from Wang’s husband but from his extended family as well. Two years later, she has given up her home and only child, a son. She lives with the threat of death if she ever tries to reclaim him.

Ms. Magazine: China’s “Leftover” Women

  Photo from flickr user  doioutsidethebox  under  Creative Commons 2.0

Photo from flickr user doioutsidethebox under Creative Commons 2.0

Last week, 26-year-old newlywed college graduate Li Fang (a pseudonym) explained to me over dinner why she had been in such a rush to marry: 

If I hadn’t gotten married now, I would still have to date for at least one or two years. Then I would already have passed the best child-bearing age and I would be a leftover woman.