On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for thirty-seven days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, labor activists, civil rights lawyers, performance artists, and online warriors prompting an unprecedented awakening among young Chinese women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses the greatest challenge to China’s authoritarian state today.
Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other leading Chinese activists, Hong Fincher illuminates both the difficulties they face and their “joy of betraying Big Brother,” as one of the Feminist Five wrote of the defiance she felt during her detention. Tracing the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through the #MeToo movement, and describing how the Communist Party has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles, Betraying Big Brother is a story of how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.
Leta Hong Fincher is a journalist, scholar and author of Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso 2018), which was named one of Vanity Fair‘s top eight political books of fall 2018. Dr. Hong Fincher has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine and others. She won the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for her China reporting and is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University’s Department of Sociology in Beijing. She also has a master’s degree from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Harvard University. Her first book was the critically acclaimed Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed 2014). Hong Fincher was a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University and recently moved to New York.
January 30, 2019 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz