Title: Japanese Feminist Scholar Becomes Unexpected Icon in China’s Conservative Society
In a surprising turn of events, Chizuko Ueno, a 75-year-old Japanese feminist scholar, has captivated the attention of Chinese society, despite its conservative values and stifling attitude towards civil society movements. Ueno’s rise to popularity in China began in 2019 when her powerful speech criticizing the societal expectations imposed on women and the burdensome pressure to conceal their success struck a chord with many.
China has witnessed a surge in interest and support for women’s rights in recent years, and Ueno’s rising fame epitomizes this trend. However, this growing wave of feminism faces an uphill battle, as President Xi Jinping’s administration has silenced the once active and spirited feminist movement in the country.
Ueno’s books have achieved remarkable success in China, with over half a million copies sold, covering various topics related to feminism in Japanese society. Admirers consider Ueno’s decision to remain single and childless as both inspirational and a model for East Asian women seeking to break societal norms.
Remarkably, Ueno’s books have managed to evade censorship in China due to her conscious decision not to focus specifically on China in her work. Feminist activism and discussions are heavily scrutinized and restricted in the country, leaving activists and organizers vulnerable to pressure and threats from authorities.
The Ueno boom that has swept China has managed to keep feminist ideas alive even within the boundaries of the “lawful” mainstream, despite limited activism. Ueno’s work has prompted individuals in China to take a stand against harassment and challenge gender stereotypes, providing a glimmer of hope for progress.
However, it is essential to acknowledge that reading feminist literature alone will not address the deeper issues, such as sexual harassment, prevalent in society. Moreover, the prospects for direct policy change resulting from Ueno-inspired feminism remain unlikely, given the current political climate.
Chizuko Ueno’s unexpected popularity in China serves as a testament to the growing demand for gender equality and women’s rights in the country. It also sheds light on the challenges faced by feminist activists and the need for further progress towards a more inclusive and equitable society.