Leta Hong Fincher: ‘Betraying Big Brother’
On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for 37 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 Feminist Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists and online warriors that is prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s urban, educated women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses a unique 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 Chinese government 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 has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine, BBC, CNN and others. She won the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for her reporting on China. Fluent in Mandarin, Leta is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University's Department of Sociology in Beijing. She has a master's degree from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree with high honors from Harvard University. Leta's first book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed 2014), was named one of the top 5 China books of 2014 by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile.
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