New Books Network

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, five activists were detained by the police in China for their plans to distribute anti-sexual...

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, five activists were detained by the police in China for their plans to distribute anti-sexual harassment stickers. Although such detainments usually last 24 hours, these women were detained 37 days, the legal limit for detention without bringing charges. Dubbed the Feminist Five, news of the women spread rapidly through social media. The author of Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China, Leta Hong Fincher, uses the stories of these women to explore a much larger issue—that the subjugation of women is a key component of the authoritarian state. Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso, 2018) examines censorship and social media; the trauma of detention and its aftermath; the history of feminism in China; the feminist fight against sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence; and, ultimately, the remarkable ways that feminist thinking spreads under the circumstances.


Laurie Dickmeyer is an Assistant Professor of History at Angelo State University, where she teaches courses in Asian and US history. Her research concerns nineteenth century US-China relations. She can be reached at laurie.dickmeyer@angelo.edu and on Twitter @LDickmeyer.