GEXcel Gender Talks Series
Cyber-Misogyny, Cyber-Nationalism, and Shades of Pink: The Promise and Peril of Feminism in the Chinese Digital Arena
In recent years, we have witnessed a heightened discussion about gender and, more broadly defined, feminism on Chinese digital platforms where online conversations often revolve around nationalist, reactionary, and misogynistic discourses. With the COVID-19 pandemic, physical interactions have been restricted, and most social activities are forced to move online, which further constrains the voices of already-confined feminist activism.
Under the backdrop of capricious socio-political circumstances, the relationship between nationalist, misogynistic, and feminist discursive forces have never been clear-cut, though few empirical studies have examined how these forces intersect. Based on a yearlong digital ethnography of online gendered debates in 2021-2022, this talk focuses on the shifting dynamics between misogynistic, nationalist, and feminist discourses on Chinese digital platforms.
These events include news media coverage of gender-based violence and entertainment celebrity sex scandals that draw extensive attention and propel online discussion regarding women’s predicament. The analysis also shows that systems of intersectional oppression often collide in the digital arena.
As feminist online discursive spaces have shrunk, I discuss the emergence of pink feminism that features the creative appropriation of official discourse to lend credibility and legitimization to feminist rhetoric as its strategies to express dissent. This study reveals the complexity and the precariousness of online feminist spaces and contributes to the growing field of digital feminism.
Ling Han is an Assistant Professor in the Gender Studies Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is a sociologist researching the intersection of gender, technology, and design in social innovation projects and the entrepreneurship process in Asia. She has published on topics about digital feminism and queer activism in China.
Her work explores topics of gender, nonprofits and philanthropy, passion, and the meaning of work in contemporary Chinese society. She co-leads the research project on Civic Life of Cities Lab-Singapore with Stanford University and INSEAD Singapore to understand how nonprofit organizations navigate the cultural, geopolitical, and technological forces they face. She served as the academic advisor for Stanford Social Innovation Review China and co-founded the Asia Academic Social Innovators Forum.