Taking Feminist Battle to China’s Streets, and Landing in Jail 1 Favorite 



Feb 2 2012


Beijing, China

The young Chinese feminists shaved their heads to protest inequality in higher education and stormed men’s restrooms to highlight the indignities women face in their prolonged waits at public toilets.

To publicize domestic violence, two prominent activists, Li Tingting and Wei Tingting, put on white wedding gowns, splashed them with red paint and marched through one of the capital’s most popular tourist districts chanting, “Yes to love, no to violence.”

Now five of them — core members of China’s new feminist movement — sit in jail, accused of provoking social instability. One of the women, Wu Rongrong, 30, an AIDS activist, is said to be ailing after the police withheld the medication she takes for hepatitis. Another, Wang Man, 33, a gender researcher, was said to have had a mild heart attack while in custody.

In 2012, as she, Li Tingting and another woman prepared for a Valentine’s Day protest against domestic violence in Beijing, she described the childhood trauma of watching men pummel their wives in public — including her own father. “People thought that women deserved beating,” she said, according to a video made at the time. “The worst thing is people tolerate it and accept it as a natural part of life, but no one believes beating a man is O.K.”

As a project manager at the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, Ms. Wei helped stage an annual AIDS Walk on the Great Wall, attended women’s conferences in India and South Korea, and started collecting footage for a documentary about bisexuality in China.

“She has so much passion and energy. You can find her at every event, whether it be about H.I.V., gender issues or bisexuality,” said Fan Popo, a filmmaker who made a movie about the staging of “The Vagina Monologues” and subsequently became Ms. Wei’s roommate after she moved to Beijing. “I would always joke that she has more film projects than me.”

In early March, Ms. Wei and the other detained women were preparing to stand outside subway stations and distribute stickers and leaflets to highlight the scourge of men who grope women on crowded trains and buses. But beginning on March 6, the police moved in, detaining nearly a dozen people in several cities. After a few days, all but Ms. Wei and the four others were released.

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