“No Excuse For Groping”: A Weibo Post Provokes Chinese Feminist Advocacy
Last week, many people saw a photo on Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) of two girls wearing black veils in the subway in Shanghai and holding the sign: "I can be sexy, but you can't harass me."
This act is actually a protest in response to a message posted by Shanghai Number 2 Subway Line's official Weibo. The original post on June 20 featured a picture of a female passenger dressing in a revealing dress and commented: "If you wear clothes like this, no wonder you will be sexually harassed. Girls, respect yourself."
What really accelerated the protest was the fact that many organization and individual Weibo users backed this statement. "Wang Bilei service group," the staff that works at Shanghai Subway's airport station, responded by saying that, "These days, a lot of young people wear all kinds of strange, revealing clothes, inciting normal people to have inadequate behavior."
"Does that mean all women should be harassed in a swimming pool?" some female Weibo users fought back, asking Shanghai Subway to give a public apology.
However, Zhongshanyufen, a verified user labeled "star staff on Shanghai Number 2 Subway" wrote, "Why do we have to apologize? Wearing revealing clothes in public shows that the woman doesn't have self-respect. The original post is plausible because the official shows its public responsibility." Ironically, Zhongshanyufen herself is a woman.
This incident has fostered a rare debate on equal rights and feminism on China's cyber space. As feminism somehow has a negative connotation in Chinese language, many people refuse to say they are feminists. Nevertheless, many pro-feminism users on Weibo take this chance to spread their belief.
Among the advocates is a popular user named "LittleCan." She initiated an advocacy entitled "There's No Excuse for Groping." In addition to constantly arguing with those who blame women for being sexually harassed, she also posts translation of Western feminist articles and provides related knowledge to educate the public about the concept. Moreover, she invites female victims to stand up and tell their stories by commenting on her posts with or without exposing their real names.
In a recent post, LittleCan says, "60 years ago, French women couldn't have their own bank account. Without their husband's permission they couldn't go out to find a job. But look at them today! Everything we do today will be of significance for the future!"
Even though the Shanghai Subway's Weibo still has not apologized, this incident and its aftermath show that there is hope for Chinese women to stand up for themselves. It still takes time for the society to understand their belief, but this happens to every society around the world that has fought for such rights. This is at least a positive start for the health growth of the Chinese civil society.