Women’s Voice: Media Monitor for Women Network

May 6, 2015

In 2015, China’s central government is expected to pass sweeping domestic violence legislation for the first time in the nation’s history. In an issue brief that Lily, Miguel, and I co-authored, we researched the history of social advocacy that has brought China to the point of producing a draft of such legislation, and examined several pivotal case studies in both formal and informal advocacy spaces. We then looked at domestic violence legislation in Taiwan and Mexico for a comparative international context, and found that open communication about domestic violence developed through three distinct platforms: formalized collaboration in the international sphere, public international criticism, and citizen action, particularly through unregulated social media.  It seemed that ongoing support of these multiple open communication platforms on both domestic and international levels is critical to ensuring the longevity and success of social change concerning domestic violence as a systemic issue.

.

Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to travel to China to learn more about this issue first-hand.

.

The United States has recently revisited its national domestic violence conversation in light of several high-profile domestic violence incidents involving perpetrations by famous athletes.  In Taiwan, the case of a woman fatally wounding her abuser prompted such outcry that the government ultimately passed a domestic violence safety and prevention act.  Similarly, in China, a high profile involving a famous business-owner perpetrator and another case of a woman fatally wounding her abuser have served as catalysts for the government drafting proposed legislation to address domestic violence.
.
China has made great strides recently in drafting the nation’s first sweeping legislation to address domestic violence.  However, many Chinese women’s organizations have cautioned that the devil is in the details, and that the draft of the legislation doesn’t provide enough coverage nor specificity for many demographics. In China, much of the grassroots community organizing work needed to increase public awareness about the issue falls to NGOs.
 .

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy meets with Women’s Voice- Media Monitor for Women Network!

After an exciting bus escapade in rush hour traffic, we arrived at an unassuming office building, where we had the opportunity to meet with the Women’s Voice: Media Monitor for Women Network , which is a feminist NGO based in Beijing.  Unlike many NGOs, Women’s Voice does not focus on direct service, but rather serves as an advocacy organization.  The organization monitors gender inequity in the media, and strives to dismantle systemic sexism and gender inequity as perpetuated by the media.
FullSizeRender
 .
The organization fulfills its mission through two primary mechanisms:  media analysis and direct action protests.
.
Women’s Voice has been increasing its capacity through partnership with organizations whose advocacy portfolios include issues that overlap with those of Women’s Voice.  I am reminded of a similar coalition-building approach to raise the profile and increase the capacity amongst small organizations in the United States that work on intersectional feminist issues that are typically considered private sphere issues.
.
One of the direct advocacy actions that stood out to me was the Bloody Brides’ demonstration wherein feminist activists dressed up in bridal dresses and wore stage makeup to appear as if they were bruised and bloody after a domestic violence altercation.  This direct action was memorable to me because it engaged with the cultural norm that domestic violence is a quiet interpersonal issue that should not be discussed outside the privacy of the home.
.
A public bloody brides demonstration not only served to provide a jarring visual representation of how physically damaging domestic violence can be, but the street-side location of the demonstration served as a mechanism that literally moved the conversation from the private sphere into the public sphere in a way that could not be ignored.  The demonstration received enough furor and media attention that it not only raised the profile of Women’s Voice as an NGO, but it also served as a platform for the public to discuss domestic violence  as a systemic and harmful social issue.  Raising awareness and bringing the discussion into the public sphere is a critical step in engaging with policy issues.
.
However, several activists were arrested in connection to the planning of subsequent direct action, so International Women’s Day came and went in Beijing without a statement from Women’s Voice.  As a result of the activists’ arrest, Women’s Voice had put their strategic plans on hold in order to reassess their safety and safety and viability as a direct action feminist advocacy organization, but recent news indicates that Chinese feminists haven’t been completely silenced, thanks in large part to the use of the internet and social media as a community organizing platform.
.
I left the meeting feeling inspired and excited that Women’s Voice is engaging in the difficult and important work of bringing gender fairness issues in to the public discourse.  To stay up-to-date on the latest discourse on policy issues impacting women in China, please be sure to follow the conversation on social media platforms such as Youku, Weibo, WeChat, Facebook, Twitter.

–Kim M, MPP

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Women’s Voice: Media Monitor for Women Network

  1. Pingback: The magic of WeChat! | UM Ford School in China

  2. Pingback: The Embassy of Mexico in Beijing | UM Ford School in China

  3. Pingback: Beijing LGBT Center 北京同志中心 | UM Ford School in China

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s