Intellectuals debate #MeToo in China: Legitimizing feminist activism, challenging gendered myths, and reclaiming feminism

Qi Ling, Sara Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

This study focuses on the intellectual debate over #MeToo in China provoked by an article written by a well-known Chinese scholar and public intellectual Liu Yu. Raising such countervailing issues as women's supposed complicity in sexual harassment and the drawbacks of digital activism in comparison with legal action, Liu's article marked a crucial moment in the public awareness and discussion of #MeToo and digital activism in China in 2018. By analyzing the critical responses to Liu's argumentations, we examined the discursive impact of these critical efforts to destabilize Liu's hegemonic reading of the sexual harassment culture in China. We show how Liu's critics offered a compelling defense of #MeToo, deconstructed enduring gendered myths, and had a significant impact in terms of reclaiming feminism in China. We argue further that the critics' intellectual and deliberative efforts exemplify China's local struggles in the global #MeToo movement and feminist activism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-916
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Communication
Volume70
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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