The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

The Feminist Awakening in China

Start Date and Time:

Friday, March 22, 2019, 10:00AM

End Date and Time:

Friday, March 22, 2019, 12:00PM


Dr. Leta Hong Fincher

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for thirty-seven 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 Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, labor activists, civil rights lawyers, performance artists, and online warriors prompting an unprecedented awakening among young Chinese women. Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other 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, Hong Fincher describes how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.

Dr. Leta Hong Fincher is a journalist, scholar and author of Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso 2018), which was named a best book of 2018 by Vanity Fair, Newsweek and others. She is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University’s Department of Sociology in Beijing. She also has a master’s degree from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Harvard University. Her first book was the critically acclaimed Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed 2014).


  • East Asian Seminar Series
  • Asian Institute
  • Centre for the Study of Korea
  • Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies

Contact Information

Dasha Kuznetsova

Asian Institute


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Cover photo features Li Maizi and Wei Tingting of the Feminist Five, with activist Xiao Meili, taking part in a 2012 protest, Beijing