China now "has more self-made female billionaires than any other country in the world," writes infamous "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua in a recent Newsweek article profiling four Chinese lady tycoons. "This is not only because China has more females than any other nation. Many of these extraordinary women rose from nothing, despite living in a traditionally patriarchal society. They are a beguiling advertisement for the New China-bold, entrepreneurial, and tradition-breaking."
But two other stories today prove that China still has a Great-Wall-sized way to go in regards to gender equality. The country's wealthier women might be breaking gender norms, but others at the very top of their careers — China's best journalists and most revered artists, for examples — are still objectified just for being female.
First there's a jaw-dropping slideshow on People's Daily Online — which, according to Wikipedia, is an organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, called "Beautiful female journalists at two sessions." Putting lady journalist's looks before their scoops is nothing new — hell, Fishbowl DC slut-shamed a group of female reporters just the other week — but this slideshow is particularly demeaning because it fails to list ANY of the 17 "beautiful female journalist'" names. Not one! Fleet Street Views points out that "whether [the reporters] were expecting to feature in such a gallery is uncertain too, as most of them seem to be hard at work, either on air or asking questions in press conferences." Basically, People's Daily has provided excellent jack-off fodder for men with fetishes for Asian women holding microphones. Although, if journalists aren't your thing, you could check out some of their other slideshows, like "Beautiful service staff at the NPC and CPPCC sessions" and "Pretty policewomen in Xichang."
Then there's a New York Times piece on a recent Chinese art opening in which the county's most famous female artists — Xu Juan, Xiao Lu and Li Xinmo — hurled wine at the floor and shaved each others heads to protest the "traditional Chinese standards of female beauty, which, importantly, include long, glossy hair." Li said the women went bald because "in China, no one wants to acknowledge the problem that women don't have rights. And women don't want to admit that they are feminists." Xiao said that "In China today the problem of women's rights is very, very serious. If this society really respected women, there would be more women in positions of power. It's a real, an actual, problem in China today."
We can applaud the few female Chinese billionaires out there for beating the inconceivable odds and making tons of cash while they're at it, but what about the rest of the country's 653 million women? Optimists might argue that, since China is the world's fastest-growing major economy, it's to be expected that the richest women would garner the most power, with others soon to follow. "Perhaps they are the forerunners of a China still to come, in which paths to success are far more open," Chua muses. But if outspoken feminists and high-powered career women are treated this poorly by the Chinese government and media, what about those that are less empowered?
Image via chantal de bruijne /Shutterstock.