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 civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists, and online warriors prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s educated, urban 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 regime 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 regime 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.
“A vital and necessary book in a world hostile to women and girls. Leta Hong Fincher’s account of a powerful network of activists is a foundational text on feminism in contemporary China, rich with scholarship and a grasp of history. It is a book to inspire and to guide all of us who insist on fighting the patriarchy globally.”
“A provocative, sharp-edged account of Beijing’s push to cajole women to marry and fix the country’s sagging birth rates. A must-read for students of feminism.”
“Writing with rigor, passion, and indignation, Hong Fincher introduces a group of Chinese feminist activists who refuse to be intimidated by China’s powerful patriarchal state. Offering a detailed account of the women’s critiques of increasing gender inequality in China, Betraying Big Brother is a singular account of a Chinese—and now global—movement that will not be silenced”
“In Betraying Big Brother, Leta Hong Fincher unlocks a fundamental truth: the subjugation of women is a key feature of authoritarian power. But in telling the harrowing story of the detention of China’s Feminist Five, she may also have discovered the strongman’s Achilles’ Heel: a broad-based feminist movement poses an existential threat to a patriarchal state.”
“In her vivid and comprehensive work on China’s emerging feminist movement, Leta Hong Fincher explores the coming of age of a generation of young activists in an authoritarian state increasingly hostile to social protest. A must-read for all seeking to understand China’s feminist activists, hear their voices, and experience the day-to-day reality of their lives.”