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Panel 2: Feminist Stirrings & Social Media in Mainland China

16 May 2016, 6:15-7:45pm

This panel looks into body politics and technologies of sexuality in mainland China as they are developed by netizen communities and specifically by young feminists and emerging queer movements. What are the technologies of resistance and survival such as body art, theater and online writing or photography? How do activists and artists navigate political sensitivities and the politics of representation?

Transcending Boundaries, Making Creative Resistance – A Study on the Young Feminist Activist Group and Their Online Activism in China

Holly Hou Lixian, Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


My talk mainly examines two important queer-feminist online activities the Young Feminist Activist Group had made in China: “Nudity against Domestic-Violence” in 2012 and “Take Feminist Five to Travel around the World” during the well-known case of Feminist Five’s Detention in 2015. I will argue that the Young Feminist Activist Group has transformed the social media, such as Weibo and Facebook, into their new stage for activism so as to challenge state-patriarchy and to conduct creative resistance that could not be realized in the offline activism in China. I will also point out that Young Feminist Activist Group’s online activism is featured with “queerness” that is de-centered, de-organized and theme-shifting with different netizens’ participation, so that such feminist activism could transcend the boundaries beyond hetero-patriarchal system and framework of either gender or sexuality, and form a widely open coalition with participants from both inside and outside the gender/sexuality movement in China for their creative resistance.  

About the Speaker

Holly Lixian Hou is now pursuing her Ph.D studies in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has been conducting research on the lala (lesbian) movement, queer politics, feminist activism, cyber-activism and civil society in China. She has published articles on the emerging feminist cyber-activism in China, as well as on the history and development of LGBT movement in China. She is also involved into the gender/sexuality movement in China for over 5 years as both a participant and a researcher.

Case Studies on Young Feminist Activists Using New Media

Xiao Meili, distinguished guest, China


- Examples of young feminist activist movements on new media

- Background: the voice of feminism and femininity on social media

- Connections online & offline: Guangtoujie Liangxia Education Bureau

- Testing the sensitivity of the media: naked chest movement to stop domestic violence

- Crowdfunding + the media: Meili's feminist journey on foot

- Supporting the Feminsit Five: the five heads of freedom

- Online Participation: Women's underarm hair and lifiting competitions

- Crowdfunding anti-forced marriage and anti-sexual harassment advertisements

About the Speaker

Xiao Meili (b. 1989, Sichuan province) is a prominent women’s rights activist who most recently made international headlines when she started a contest calling for photos of women’s unshaven armpits. From September 2013 to March 2014, Xiao walked 2,300 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Beijing to Guangzhou to raise awareness of China’s handling of sexual abuse on college campuses. She is also known for starting China’s “bloody wedding dress” meme in 2012 to protest domestic violence, and once starred in a Chinese adaptation of The Vagina Monologues. She penned a New York Times editorial in May 2015 called “China’s Feminist Awakening.”


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