March 15, 2015

"Fronted by Gia, the group Hang on the Box embraced their sexuality and spoke in a way that was less demure..."

Womens Enews "China did not experience the feminist awakening that America and Europe did in the 1960s and 1970s." By Jemimah Steinfeld

'After Chairman Mao's pledge that women would hold up half the sky, they started to dress more like men and fill roles previously assigned to men, challenging certain stereotypes, but women did not tackle deep-seated gender bias.

'This started to change from the 1980s, when books on gender theory were translated into Chinese and saw its first "wave" of feminist scholarship. Feminism remained within academic borders for the next few decades. Then in the 2000s it gained momentum at a social level. Women started to acquire a voice, and stories began to appear about guerrilla feminism, so to speak – women spontaneously taking action to highlight a certain cause. For example, in the summer of 2012 two women draped in black robes took to the Shanghai subway in protest. They wore placards that read, "I can be flirtatious, but you can't harass" and "We want to feel cool! We don't want dirty hands." The photos were a reaction to a sign on Shanghai Metro's microblog that said, "Girls, please be self-dignified to avoid perverts," the state's clumsy response to a rise in sexual harassment on the subway.

'In recent years, these stories are becoming more frequent and are very encouraging. Even if does not have many groups dedicated to strengthening women, it is no longer lacking individuals fighting for the cause. Amongst the most notorious is Wang Yue or, to use her stage name, Gia, a rock star who could be labelled the Chinese version of Pussy Riot.

'Gia's story is remarkable and sums up all of the extremes and contradictions of being young and female in China. She first encountered fame as the vocalist in the Chinese all-female rock band Hang on the Box (HOTB), which was formed in 1998 when she and her friends were only 15 years old. Gia revels in the accolade of being the front woman of China's first all-girl punk group, a remarkable feat in any context, let alone in China.'

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