China’s New Feminists

Bearing the torch from centuries-old activism – Leta Hong Fincher

When I visited Hangzhou in November 2015 –roughly half a year after the Feminist Five were released – two feminist activists in their twenties invited me to tour the city’s most scenic landmark, West Lake, in the middle of a rainstorm. We paid an old man to row us across the lake in a small boat covered with an awning to keep us semi-dry. As the rain fell, Gina (a pseudonym) – who worked at the Weizhiming Women’s Rights Center – and Zhu Xixi, a feminist PhD student at Zhejiang University, told me how state security agents had summoned them for questioning several times since the detention of the Feminist Five. Gina’s landlord had just threatened to evict her after coming under pressure from the police, while Zhu Xixi was warned that she might be expelled from her university.