Considering that this was the week Zhang Ziyi found her name dragged through the mud on the Bo Xilai scandal, there couldn't be a more topical subject for Sinica than the double standards that are often applied to women in China, and the way Chinese society is often structured to favor men in everything from higher education and home ownership to retirement and even expectations of marital fidelity.

This week on Sinica, we're proud to have a special episode of the show discussing the state of gender equality in China. Stepping in as guest host is none other than MaryKay Magistad, correspondent in China for the Public Radio International/BBC program "The World." She is joined by sociologist Leta Hong Fincher, who's doing her PhD at Tsinghua University, Didi Kirsten Tatlow of the International Herald Tribune, and Cao Haili, managing editor of the upcoming Chinese language online version of the New York Times.

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 said on
June 2, 2012
Fabulous! Your speakers offered many specific insights into the reasons behind the deep social divides we see today - how property is transferred, the systematic discrimination against women in the workplace, domestic violence - and how these show up in the lives of everyday women. Behind all the LV handbags, as one speaker said, given such ancient cultural pressure on the average modern Chinese woman today, it's not entirely clear which decisions are being made by her. Listening to this made me want to spend an evening with all these speakers. Thank you for this great session!
 said on
June 2, 2012
RECOMMENDATIONS

Leta Hong Fincher:

Half The Sky Public Education - Domestic violence PSAs

spot 1: http://youtu.be/d4AT_niGbwQ

spot 2: http://youtu.be/9TRGKsRq5cs

Didi Kirsten Tatlow:

Northern Girls: Life Goes On, by Sheng Keyi

http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9780670080953/northern-girls-life-goes

Cao Haili:

Half a Life's Conduct (半生为人), by Xu Xiao (徐晓) at Amazon.cn

http://www.amazon.cn/%E5%8D%8A%E7%94%9F%E4%B8%BA%E4%BA%BA-%E5%BE%90%E6%99%93/dp/B007VIFPLS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338636907&sr=1-1

China's Liang Village (中国在梁庄), by Liang Hong (梁鸿) at Amazon.cn

http://www.amazon.cn/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E5%9C%A8%E6%A2%81%E5%BA%84-%E6%A2%81%E9%B8%BF/dp/B004DGIST2

MaryKay Magistad:

Somebody Else's Century: East and West in a Post-Western World, by Patrick Smith

http://www.amazon.com/Somebody-Elses-Century-Post-Western-World/dp/0375425500/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338637555&sr=1-1
 said on
June 4, 2012
I have several disagreements with this podcast. First of all, the scandal with Zhang Ziyi is nothing to do women's rights in general, rather with the anti-China propaganda Apple Daily. Many Chinese knows that it is not realistic for someone to receive 700 million yuan to sleep with people. It is just plain ridiculous.

As for the issue of the 'leftover' women, I fail to see what is the issue. Compared to 'leftover' women, there are probably at least 10 poor illegible, poor men whom have no chance of getting married to a women. Many wealthy men marry poorer women, so why not have these 'leftover' women to try to go for these poorer men whom otherwise have no chance of getting married?

Ironically, the best place to be a rich women in the World is in China. Half of the self made billionaire women are from China. Also, I fail to see what does the 'evil' Chinese government has to do with this. In terms of many indicators of gender equality, China is doing much better than other 'democratic' Asian countries like Japan and South Korea. Much of the problems with gender inequality is more social rather than political.

The issue of registration of property towards the men is really a chicken before the egg question. The fact is that many Chinese women demands a man with a house and car as a prerequisite for marriage. If Chinese women stop making such demands, then their parents wouldn't have the pressure to funnel so much of their money to their son instead of their daughter.

In fact, this whole discussion about gender equality is really about social pressures of Chinese men earning more money. Men going for the higher paying, less satisfying jobs, while women is less pressured about earning more money. They want to live 'wholesome' lives and dependent on marrying someone who earns more money then her. In fact, this is not just a social problem in China, rather in most if not all countries out there.
 said on
June 5, 2012
Any hint as to when that Chinese-edition of the NYT is going to be available? Will it be written such that it is conveniently available in China? (i.e. in compliance with local regulations)
 said on
June 8, 2012
Seriously, this episode could not have been more one-sided had you tried. Even a panel of Fox News commentators would find it hard to celebrate a more homogeneously session of opinionation. A bunch of well-educated, successful career women agreeing all over each other on what a touch place China is for woman, especially -- because that's what they were obsessing on at least half of the time -- for well-educated, urban women -- in other word, women like themselves. Wow!

Employers preferring men over women? Yeah, where in the world is it *not* the case? On the other hand, in which Western country are women legally guaranteed to get the same pay for the same job as men? Does it really make sense to focus on the percentage of women in management positions when in the actual world, most people -- men or women -- are not in a management position? They do the same job as many coworker, and in China, they (mostly) earn the same salary. Why is that not worth mentioning?

Am I living in a parallel universe or is it the common view among urban Chinese that most of the new developments of gender inequality in modern China (see comments by @pug_s above) lays a disproportionally heavier burden on men than women? Obviously you don't have to agree with that view, but you can just pretend it's not there and simply walls yourselves in the comfort of your echo-chamber.
 said on
June 10, 2012
"In fact, this whole discussion about gender equality is really about social pressures of Chinese men earning more money. Men going for the higher paying, less satisfying jobs, while women is less pressured about earning more money. They want to live 'wholesome' lives and dependent on marrying someone who earns more money then her. In fact, this is not just a social problem in China, rather in most if not all countries out there."

I disagree with this because I think it presumes too much about "what women want" and specifically, I am sick and tired of hearing many people (usually men) say that all women want is to just married, quit their job, and rely on men as the breadwinners. This is not the 1950s anymore! I have very specific goals and things I want to do professionally, and my husband 100% understands that. Of course, there is social pressure in nearly every country for women to play the housewife/mother while the father works (and you're right, that is not unique in China, it's a complicated social issue in every country). Just please, for the love of God, stop presuming that this is what women want because they must have some kind of natural inclination to be put in that position.
 said on
June 15, 2012
@amandaucsc,

Errr, where did I say that women should quit their jobs stay at home and rely their husbands to be the breadwinner?

I am saying that many women wants to have it all, professionally and personally. If a women can get a better paying job, but has a mean boss and you will spend more time working there rather than a nicer and lower paying job, will a man or woman willing to work a job like this? That was my question.
 said on
June 20, 2012
http://www.gti.org/Press-room/Proportion%20of%20women%20in%20senior%20management%20falls%20to%202004%20levels.asp

Another BS notion that women in China are being put down. In China, women made up of 34% senior management position, higher than ANY other Western nations. Australia 27%, UK 23%, and the US a dismal 15%, less than 1/2 compared to China.

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