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The 9th International Gender and Language Organization

Conference (IGALA 9)
May 19 21, 2016
City University of Hong Kong

Thin Lin
es:

ter: HOU,
n
e
Pres tasia Z te at
s
a
Ana gradu
5
201 ity
f
C
the ersity o
Univ Kong
g
Hon

The Visib
le and
Invisible
Messages
in
Feminist
Discourse
on
Wei-bo

Abstract
This paper is going to introduce a new type of feminist discourse on
Chinese wei-bo. By doing a critical reading on some examples of
these online texts, the paper is going to disclose the meaning-making
skills and hidden messages behind them. And throughout the
analysis, it is found that, for the purpose of freeing women readers
from a social and traditional bound of defining women, these online
texts are building up another set of standardized thinking patterns
and behaviors for their readers. Therefore, it is very important for
women readers to draw on their own jedgment when reading these
Keywords: wei-bo, feminist discourse, gender, identity, women
texts.
readers

Background
The eagerness to break the rules:
From ancient China to contemporary China and to today, Chinese
women have been on the way to break and throw away some chains
and locks set on them to teach them what they should do or should
not to be a woman. So far as we can see, the whole process is
gaining progress as that women are enjoying more freedom and
equality in their families, in workplace and many other aspects of life.
The establishment of a digital sisterhood (Fotopoulou,
2014):
The use of Internet enables women to acquire information and show
their attitudes and ideas freely, which help to establish a digital
sisterhood. Within this sisterhood, they open up to share experiences
and issues related to feminism, women and girls.
The analyzed discourse:
The analyzed discourse is short (140 Chinese characters) postings on
wei-bo. They are often, when talking about women, inspiring,
comforting, emotional and direct. They try to help women set up their
new image and even new life, telling them what makes contemporary
women a good woman.

Whats on Wei-bo??
Feminist Discourse
--2 Examples

5 Categories
Promotional / Commercial postings
Quotations
Chicken soup for the soul (about life in
general)
Traveling as escaping
Love and Relationship

5 Categories
Promotional / Commercial postings
Quotations
Chicken soup for the soul (about life in
general)
Traveling as escaping
Love and Relationship

A quotation from Bai Jin-hu, an online female novelist.

Translation of a posting posted by Yi Ben Shu Yi Shou


Shi Yi Duan Qing (A Book A Poem A Romance) on
January 29th, 2015:value as being
being educated

Girl, you

independent,
with a good occupational
must image
study hard. Whether

a boy is defaulted to
be excellent

it is a junior

college or a university you are attending, you can

Dignity and
respect
pick a major that is occupationally beneficial or one from the
husbands
that you really like, so that you could get a decent
family:
what
job in the future. Only if you could achieve this,
women are
when you fall in love with an excellent boy later in
often
deprived of
your life, you can marry yourself to him with great
when they
dignity, with the respect and love of his parents so are married
to another
that you will be well treated like treasure. Who says family.
Arguing
that a girls occupation is not important and that against a
prevailing and
she only needs to marry a good husband? You musttraditional
conception
be excellent enough, enough to be the perfect

match with that excellent


man.
----novelist,
Bai Jin-Hu
Bai, a female
online
who has
helped to strengthen readers belief in this
posting.

The meaning making in the text


Traditional perception: a woman would be living a happy life ever
after if she could be married to a good man/a rich family
education
(so that)
a decent job
(Only
if)

the prerequisite for falling in love


and marrying an excellent man

the condition for a woman to win


the love and respect from the
parents of the future husband

An ideal marriage with dignity and


happiness, with a woman
becoming the perfect match with
her husband.

The meaning making in the text

Men are too excellent.


And you are never good
enough.
You would not just run
into one perfect man for
no reason.
Women in the new era are
improving themselves to

ht of the
(at least eig
ls sitting
pictures) Gir
bus, or a
in a train, a
ship.
Girls showin
g their profiles or
turning their back
to the
camera the atm
osphere of
being alone.
lor tone
o
c
m
r
a
The w
uietness
q
f
o
e
s
n
the se
ation
and relax

A posting with 9 photos in each of which, a girl is traveling alone


somewhere.

Translation of a posting posted by Ta Lv Xing (She


Travel(s)) on December 12th, 2014:
the meaning of
traveling

Is there an early morning like this when you are


half awake, from deep inside your heart (a feeling)
suddenly comes up to you that you want to
abandon your present life, to get rid of all thoughts
about job and future, (and then) having your
backpack with you, all on your own, you walk out
of the city which has buried too much of your
emotion. (You) go and have a taste of the air that is
strange to you, without all those confusion. You
walk on your own, listen to the music on your own,
take photos of the sceneries along the way on your
own and stand on the one side of a mountain on
your own and shout aloud to your other self on the
other side, Hey, how are you...

the
internal
benefits
of
traveling

The meaning making in the text


Traveling is a way of enjoying a holiday, a way to relax and
have a break from your busy life
Traveling is a way of broadening your horizon
Traveling is a way to see more of the world and to
experience different cultures.

aveling is a way to escape, to show your independenc


because,
Your current life is miserable and you are LOST.

The meaning making in the text


suddenly
abandon your present life
get rid of all the thoughts about
job and future

aveling is escapingwalk out of the city


to have a taste of the air that
is strange to you
without all those confusion
your other self

The meaning making in the text


having your backpack with you, all on
your own

Traveling
alone is
what you
really want
and need
Independ
ence and
courage

walk on your own

listen to the music on your own

take photos of the sceneries along the


way on your own
stand on the one side of a mountain
on your own

The meaning making in the text

text

9
pictures

Fulfillment & Carefreeness

WOMEN ARE...

PAS
T
obedient, quiet,
dependent,
weak,
with the ultimate
goal of life for a
good/rich
marriage,
...

The women
who are
between
PAST and
NOW

Lost

Confused

Struggling

unhappy

Having a hard
time
throughout
their lives

NO
W
independent,
strong, open, brave,
should be welleducated and
occupationally capable
to win a successful
marriage,
able to travel alone,

A few questions to ask...


Freedom or another heavy chains?
When we talk about feminism or female rights or womens
life, what are we talking about?
Does more choices mean that what is in the past is wrong
and should be abandoned?
Are they presenting to us another set of standard of women
behaviors??
Are they telling me that there have been more options for me
to choose from or, are they telling what is wrong and it would
be right to simply pick the opposite??

Are we really so lost that every one of us has an other self


to be found back?

Problems
The lacking in definitions or explanations of key words -- decent
job, excellent (man), (marriage with) dignity, your other self,
nor of bigger and su academic terms as feminism, feminist
Hegemonic masculinity (Connel and Messerschmidt, 2005)
men are naturally excellent.
Fantasizing and over-exaggerating the act of traveling (alone)
guaranteeing the pleasure of unexpectedness, possibilities and
relaxation on a journey, encouraging women to go on a trip alone
to show their independence and determination to be a different
person, without giving more guidelines about traveling alone and
what to do or to consider before and after the journey.
The self-escalating of women is not for their self-improvement but
for an ideal marriage as the final stage and the ultimate goal of
their lives.

Conclusion
-- what a woman deserve...
A woman can live any ways she wants -Female rights are about the ability and freedom to choose from the
various options or even to create their own styles.

You can go out and find a job, but it does not make you anyway inferior if
you choose to be a full-time housewife to take care of the family, as you
like it.
You can get married later, but it is okay if you have found your one true
love and you want to marry him now, as you like it.
You can choose to travel alone, but it does not mean you are weak or
dependent if you want to have a company with you, as you like it.
Be careful when you are reading those online texts which keep telling you
what is overall the best. Use your own judgment to evaluate and to
assess your own status and wishes, and then you may see what suits you
the most, as you like it.

Conclusion
Many of these online texts, though inspiring and
insightful in some way, are directing readers into some
fixed sets of standardized women behaviors. And this,
can be another trap.

It is us who can define and decide what we do.


Do not let what we are told to do defines and labels us.
Be careful not to fall into a new trap.

Choices -There is no right or wrong.


It is not an either or question!

Thank you.

Presented by: Anastasia ZHOU Zhaolan


Tel: (+852) 5346 0466
Email: anastasiazhou304@gmail.com