#metoo is China’s “Canary in the Coalmine”
Episode 9: Chenni Xu
It’s an allusion to caged canaries that miners would carry down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.
On the show this week we had Chenni Xu, corporate communications executive and gender advocate. She has quite an extensive background in corporate communications and consulting, and even beyond that I was quite impressed with all the work she does outside her job to advance gender equity and female voices in media and journalism.
The gender movement is truly the canary in the coal mine for all individual rights in China. Chenni points out that gender rights are key to developing a more egalitarian Chinese society, and will prompt a flood for all sorts of rights in China. Future movements could emulate many of the tactics employed by #metoo.
I have been giving some thought to her poignant comment, and its prompted some reflection on my part.
Canary in the coalmine: You would think that the Communist Party would embrace a movement towards gender equality, given the persistent rhetoric about “women hold[ing] up half the sky.” However, it’s been the opposite with censors deleting online posts and petitions. Despite the lack of support, the success of the gender movement could prove that its possible to advance a social cause safely. If women were eventually able to make gains towards a more equal society in China, that would be a major step on behalf of 48% of the population.
Power of #metoo: To the general public, everything can be tracked back to this one monolithic hashtag. However, the hashtag has many different meanings to many different people. Each individual takes the hashtag and makes it her/his own and posts it on their personal platform. Although it’s easy to track, it’s difficult to contain and dismantle. It’s also easier for women to express themselves, given that there’s less friction to stepping forward and bravely telling her story. The decentralized, but personal, nature of the movement is in the power of #metoo in China.
I hope that this episode brings insight into not only #metoo in China but also the variety of topics we cover including advocates in the workplace, women in rural China, and barriers to success in politics. This episode is seriously worth a listen!
- The New Yorker — One Year of #metoo: How the Movement Eludes Government Surveillance in China
- NYT — ‘Me Too’ Chinese Women Say. Not So Fast, Say the Censors
- Vox — #metoo is growing in China — despite government efforts to stop it
Ta for Ta is a new bi-weekly podcast dedicated to capturing the narratives of women in Greater China at the top of their professional game. Ta for Ta, is a cheeky play on the Chinese spoken language demonstrating equality between the sexes. Ta 他 is the word for “he”, and ta 她 is also the word for “she”.
Listen to Episode 9: Chenni Xu wherever you get your podcasts. Ta for Ta is powered by the Sinica network and SupChina.
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