you're reading...
Pornography, Prostitution, Rape and Sexual Assault

China Bans Pornography, Rape Scenes, Film Depictions of Hardcore Sex

China has banned  movie depictions of hardcore sexual activity and rape.  Film studios producing hardcore sex movies risk losing permission to shoot films at all.   In addition, erotic movie producers, directors and actors will be ineligible to compete for film awards or for taking part in any film awards.  Also restricted are vulgar language and song lyrics and sound effects with sexual connotations.

Film studios which produce pornography will be banned from the movie industry for five years.
Link

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

About these ads

Discussion

37 thoughts on “China Bans Pornography, Rape Scenes, Film Depictions of Hardcore Sex

  1. Somehow, I don’t think this is grounded in extreme respect for women.

    Posted by Miranda | January 2, 2008, 11:11 pm
  2. I think the Chinese government is more likely doing this as a way censoring films, rather than caring about the effects of porn on women and children.

    Posted by Rebecca | January 3, 2008, 1:33 am
  3. Argh. There will be a backlash. All the persecuted misogynists will uprise you know.

    Posted by Jeyoani | January 3, 2008, 5:06 am
  4. Are we to believe nothing of any great significance will come of this?

    Posted by pisaquari | January 3, 2008, 5:39 am
  5. I’ve known China has opposed pornography for some time, though this ban is new. It’s amazing how little there is on the internet about this. I did find this:

    Beijing has declared war on the wave of “unhealthy” internet content it says is engulfing the nation’s cyberspace, amid fears China’s young are being corrupted en masse by an influx of online sex and violence.

    The nation’s leading news sites and internet portals have vowed to adhere to a strict programme of “self-censorship” to support the “Eight Honours and Disgraces”, a new doctrine of “socialist morality” recently laid out by Hu Jintao, the Chinese President. …

    On this website: http://battellemedia.com/archives/002517.php

    I also found this:

    China has officially declared war on Internet porn, and set a target of purging the web of sexually-explicit images, stories and AV clips within a six month timescale. According to the China View official online news agency the Vice Minister of MPS, Zhang Xinfeng, is quoted as stating “the boom of pornographic content on the Internet has contaminated cyberspace and perverted China’s young minds. The inflow of pornographic materials from abroad and lax domestic control are to blame for the existing problems in China’s cyberspace.”

    Looking deeper at what Zhang has said, one could be forgiven for thinking that this is just the same old same old spectre of Chinese state censorship that has led to the ‘Great firewall of China’ debacle. Not least because it would appear that the official campaign will target a lot more than just porn and sexually explicit stories. Indeed, Zhang has made it very clear that illegal on-line lotteries, contraband trade, fraud and then the all too expected bombshell of “content that spreads rumors and is of a slanderous nature” will be included in the crackdown. Exactly what is considered ‘spreading rumors’ is, one assumes, up to the State to decide.

    Not that Chinese attention to online porn is anything new, some months back in November 2006 one Chen Hui was arrested and convicted to life imprisonment for running the largest pornographic website in China which was said to contain nine million images and articles and have a membership of some 600,000 users. The fact is that online porn is already illegal in China, the great firewall routinely blocks it, and anyone caught participating in whatever capacity faces more severe punishment than being unsure about the future of their eyesight. What is new here, and what the crackdown is really all about, is coming down hard against the booming home grown domestic online porn trade in China which manages to bypass the firewall filtering and provides relatively easy access to the Chinese population.

    The Ministry of Public Security continue to blame porn for major crime, and continue to announce their success in combating it. Rather bizarrely, the definition of major crime would appear to be at odds with that in the West. The latest official announcement from the Ministry, for example, includes the major crime of Wang from Yichang City in Hubei Province who had a no-clothes chat with a woman online and took photos of her which were used in an attempted blackmail plot against her. Abhorrent yes, major crime and indicative of the downfall of a nation, nope…
    – Davey Winder, staff writer aka happygeek

    http://www.daniweb.com/blogs/entry1407.html

    So, why is it that blackmailing a woman with nude pictures is not a “major crime, indicative of the downfall of a nation”? I think that’s likely a man’s opinion, not a woman’s.

    I believe Zhang, the minister quoted above, is a woman.

    In the very few articles I have found, there is the very male whining about censorship and “rights” to make/consume porn.

    I have been opposed to censorship, believing the wiser tack is to make it possible for those harmed by pornography to bring claims against those who have made/trafficked in the porn that harmed them.

    But that’s because I’ve had concerns about the backlash Jeyoani is thinking about.

    I don’t think China is as friendly to backlashes as the U.S. is.

    I’m formulating my opinions about what China has done. I’m not really sure what to think.

    Posted by womensspace | January 3, 2008, 7:02 am
  6. These are the “eight honors and disgraces”:

    – Love the country; do it no harm – Serve the people; never betray them – Follow science; discard superstition– Be diligent; not indolent – Be united, help each other; make no gains at other’s expense– Be honest and trustworthy; do not sacrifice ethics for profit– Be disciplined and law-abiding; not chaotic and lawless

    – Live plainly, work hard; do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.

    http://www.chinalyst.net/node/10093

    Posted by womensspace | January 3, 2008, 7:08 am
  7. I believe China is where people are fobidden to have more than one child, and where women are forced to abort if they become pregnant a second time. This has lead to mass abortions of girl children, in the desire to have the only child be male.

    And then, of course, there’s the massacre at Tiannamen square. I suppose the gathering ‘did harm’ to the country.

    I’m not sure, but I think various news sites are also blocked in China.

    This ban is just one more aspect of oppression, it’s not about helping anyone.

    Posted by Miranda | January 3, 2008, 11:32 am
  8. Yeah, all true, Miranda.

    Pornography doesn’t help anyone either, though. What’s better: government oppression minus pornography or government oppression plus all porn all the time?

    Posted by womensspace | January 3, 2008, 3:07 pm
  9. before i start to wallow in the reality of backlash and how american men will whine and cry about their *rights* to use women…i want to bask in the possibility that china’s ordinance will open up discourse for the whole world upon the ways that porn harms every single human. censorship may not be the best policy, but i really see this as a way to get more people talking about the issue of sexual violence and the way porn plays a part in that. this particular issue feels very taboo to get into in american conversation, and to start such a conversation i usually have to nab it out of thin air. the chinese ordinance provides a place to start from and move forward. i am at least thankful that the chinese are acknowledging the very real harms of XXX. pro-porn americans are still hiding their heads in the sand and reciting the mantra that XXX is somehow healthy for our society.

    Posted by avril joy | January 3, 2008, 6:52 pm
  10. avril joy, yeah, I’ve been thinking along the same lines.

    China banning porn is different and interesting in that it isn’t banning porn for fundamentalist, religious reasons and so the banning can’t be dismissed in that way. And while it’s clear what an oppressive regime’s motivations are when it bans certain books or news broadcasts or whatever, banning porn is different. Why would China ban pornography and rape scenes for any reasons other than the belief that these are harmful and destructive to people, and not because of puritanism, or, again, fundamentalism, either. In the excerpt I posted up there, the Chinese Ministry of Security blames pornography for “major crime.”

    So yes, I think there’s a lot to talk about and I also hope this banning gets those who are otherwise dismissive of the harms of pornography paying some attention.

    Posted by womensspace | January 3, 2008, 9:37 pm
  11. A little more information:

    The Chinese government is launching a new crackdown on online pornography, complaining it has “perverted China’s young minds,” a state news agency said Friday.

    The Ministry of Public Security says the six-month campaign will target cyber strip shows and sexually explicit images, stories and audio and video clips, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

    …Also Friday, police announced that two Web site operators were sentenced to four years in prison and a third got one year for distributing pornographic movies and other materials in separate cases last year, the Xinhua agency reported.

    One of the Web sites had signed up 260,000 users when its operator was arrested last year, Xinhua reported. In another case, it said, four people were arrested for distributing material online and 400 computers were seized.

    Police also have broken up crime rings that used the Internet to organize prostitution, Xinhua said.

    China has the world’s second-biggest population of Internet users after the United States, with 137 million people online.

    The communist government encourages Internet use for education and business but tries to block access to material considered obscene or subversive.

    “The inflow of pornographic materials from abroad and lax domestic control are to blame for the existing problems in China’s cyberspace,” Zhang said.

    According to Xinhua, the Beijing Reformatory for Juvenile Delinquents said 33.5 percent of its detainees were influenced by violent online games or erotic Web sites when they committed crimes such as robbery and rape.

    http://salaswildthoughts.blogspot.com/2007/04/crackdown-on-online-porno-in-china.html

    Posted by womensspace | January 3, 2008, 9:58 pm
  12. “What’s better: government oppression minus pornography or government oppression plus all porn all the time?”

    I’d have to find evidence of the pervasiveness of the domestic porn trade in China before deciding if this crackdown is going to be beneficial or not. Comments on how China’s youth is being corrupted and led into crime by porn sounds like the “OMG video games/Harry Potter/feminism/gays are destroying the family” tirades I hear from fundamentalists.

    I imagine if China’s youth is being corrupted by teh Intarwebs, it’s due to getting ideas that don’t go along with the mainstream that is desired by the government.

    I’m not sure this is going to lead to any sort of meaningful discussion over here either. China is seen as oppressive, and this is one more instance of oppression. Prohibition doesn’t ever seem to work on vice. Look at alcohol or the war on drugs. The illegality isn’t slowing anyone down much.

    What *has* worked fairly well is the stigma and societal contempt attached to smoking. Slowly, but surely, it’s losing its cool image, and will probably die out within a few decades. I think this is more likely to help in the battle against porn.

    Posted by Miranda | January 4, 2008, 12:55 am
  13. China has long been a very puritanical country, so the banning of pornography is very much in line with mainstream communist ideas. I would say that both communism and conservatism can be fundamentalist. All sexuality outside marriage was very much suppressed under Mao, for example.

    So censorship in China is nothing new.

    I agree that pornography is a complete and utter menace to world society, and that the addictiveness of online porn websites really does harm people.

    I’m glad China is getting serious about trying to regulate these images, but China is far from a feminist country. I rather suspect they consider a lot of foreign influence harmful to them.

    I’m amazed at how little people take the evil of pornography and its degrading images of women (straight pornography) and men (gay pornography) seriously. Completely beneath the radar screens of most Americans.

    Whoever said the key is to increase the social discomfort for even using it, like we are doing with smoking, would be a more effective tactic in slowing down the male public’s obsession with violence against women, or hate literature against women, which is what pornography really is all about, had a very good idea.

    Did anti-internet porn come out of Chinese feminist movements, or was it purely paternalism in a male centered culture?

    Posted by Satsuma | January 4, 2008, 5:47 am
  14. It sounds to me, from what I’ve read, that the push to eliminate porn (not just internet, film porn, all porn) is about the Chinese government, enforcing its goals, politics, agendas, ethos, and therefore rules and regulations and ordinances and laws. I doubt the Chinese government is any more paternal than any other government is, though I wouldn’t say it was any less either. I also think there’s a fairly cosmic, global difference between religious fundamentalism and political totalism/authoritarianism. I think these are very different things, the motivations are different, the way the dynamics play out is different.

    I know that the no-porn laws of Middle Eastern countries are immediately dismissed by westerners because the countries are Islamic. I don’t think the Chinese anti-porn crusade is so easy to dismiss, including on the grounds that Chinese culture is puritanical. I don’t know that it is, certainly I know it is not in the way that American culture is, the Puritans having been British/European/American and having had comparatively little influence in China. I’m betting, without having done any research at all (yet) that the emphasis on marriage fidelity is differently motivated in China compared with the U.S./western countries and probably has to do with social stability. Which again is something to pay attention to vis a vis porn.

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 1:39 pm
  15. I actually don’t think religious fundamentalism and political authoritarianism are very different.

    Both are hierarchies set up to remove autonomic decision-making from individuals, stripping them of power in order to flow that power “up” the chain.

    (In modern times) One threatens noncooperators with (mostly) spiritual death/imprisonment and one with (mostly) physical death/imprisonment, but that difference really isn’t reflected in any difference in the tactics wielded against the populace. And where religious fundamentalists have any political power at all, the two threats (spiritual vs. physical imprisonment) become increasingly and purposely blended into one.

    I think any banning of porn by an areligious group can be used as an jumping-off point for discussion with liberals who knee-jerk against porn restrictions as being an issue owned by the Religious Right. So it is interesting, definitely. On the other hand, I’m not sure what kind of point it would make: “it’s not only religious people who want to get rid of porn. Feminists do, too. And the Chinese government.” It just puts feminists, incorrectly, into the same category as two different kinds of bad company.

    I think allying in any way with China’s decision is a mistake; some mumblings about women’s rights by some officials to the contrary, it appears to be a move made by the government in order to control the people, and not to free the women.

    I can’t think of another example, anywhere, of a rule made by either a religious or a political body, designed to exercise greater control over a population, that resulted in more freedom for women as an accidental side effect.

    Unfortunately, due to patriarchy’s hydra-like nature, in order to free women, you have to specifically set out to free women; it’s the only way it can possibly happen. Think of other things done to “control violent men” – the long history of rape law (both formal and informal/lynching), for example. It controlled certain men in certain ways and controlled women, too, but did not actually protect women from rape, instead exposing them to greater threats of rape if they behaved in noncompliant ways (including exposing women to rape via threats that the men they loved could be suddenly and unjustly prosecuted for rape!)

    Not until feminism redefined rape as being a violent crime against a woman rather than a property crime against a man did the attempts to “control violence” give women any meaningful relief, rather than issuing yet set of problems for women.

    Since (if?) China’s law is designed not to free women from unequal sex roles but to prohibit pornographic media enterprises, women who have been turned into porn would probably be punishable, meaning that being abused turns you into an outlaw, yes?

    Without knowing more about how women’s rights are specifically being protected, I don’t trust or like it.

    This, either (though it, too, looks fair at first blush):

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22360824/

    Posted by funnie | January 4, 2008, 3:21 pm
  16. What worries me about this is that the law may be used to punish women who appear in pornographic movies, just as the laws making selling sex illegal lead to the punishment and imprisonment of prostituted women, with their rapists getting off scott free.

    I hope it is not used in that way. I remember reading that in even after the transformation of Chinese society in the 1940s, sexist attitudes still prevailed; for example, sex was still a taboo subject, and women were still condemned for having sex outside marriage.

    ‘I have been opposed to censorship, believing the wiser tack is to make it possible for those harmed by pornography to bring claims against those who have made/trafficked in the porn that harmed them’

    I completely agree with you Heart. This law may well have some good repurcusions in the marginalising of the misogynists who run the industry and profit from woman-abuse, but if the women in the porn industry end up suffering from persecution because of this, it will harm very vulnerable and already marginalised women who deserve so much better, and who are owed so much.

    Posted by Laurelin | January 4, 2008, 4:28 pm
  17. off topic, how do you put something in italics, or show that it is a quote on here? i keep trying things, but it never works!

    Posted by Laurelin | January 4, 2008, 4:29 pm
  18. I think my dates are wrong in my first post… sorry, dyscalculic!

    Posted by Laurelin | January 4, 2008, 4:39 pm
  19. Yeah, Laurelin, I agree re the spectre of marginalized women suffering and bearing the brunt of these laws. Then again, if you go through some of those excerpts up there, the Chinese government seems to have specifically gone after traffickers, pimps/procurers, and filmmakers. I didn’t see anything about the government going after prostituted women/porn actresses (but again, I haven’t researched this yet, to speak of). There was also the one mention of the guy who went to jail for publishing nude photos of a woman he met on the internet without her consent who then blackmailed her with the photos. I thought this was positive.

    funnie, as feminists we’re always being lumped in with all sorts of people in ignorant or disingenuous ways or just as a cheap shot/ad hominem attack, so I don’t pay much attention to that ever. If we got a dollar for every time some misogynist/anti-feminist/sexist/sex-pos person called us in bed with the Right, we’d be rolling in the dough. It’s just bullshit and they all know it but any port in a storm.

    Actually I’m enjoying the thought of the way the Chinese government’s actions provide kind of a nice wrench in the works so far as the Religious Right isconcerned. Is the Right in bed with the Chinese government then? HA! Communism as it exists in China is the arch nemesis/public enemy number one of the Religious Right for its atheism, its rejection of many gender stereotypes, its one-child rule, its valuing of abortions and performing of millions of them. The RR and fundamentalists in all of their binary, black-and-white-thinking glory,think they own ethics, values, and morality and that the godless so-called are amoral hedonists who eat babies for lunch. I think what the Chinese have done makes quick work of that particular nonsense. It also seems pragmatic to me in a way that might be useful to feminists so far as discourse around pornography goes, i.e., the Chinese want an end to porn, it looks like, in part for practical reasons having to do with pornography’s connection with criminal activity, including in at least one of the examples up there, men blackmailing women with nude photos. The Chinese say pornography corrupts youth. It does. Even though saying that IS propaganda and sounds propaganda-like, that doesn’t make it any less true, factual.

    All we have to do is think about the girl gang-raped in Australia by the boys who urinated on her, set her on fire filmed the whole thing on their cell phones, made videos and sold them for five bucks to know that’s true. Or the Haitian woman gang-raped in Florida. Or any number of other similar instances. The abject callousness and inhumanity young men/boys/men consistently evidence towards girls and women is in part, I absolutely believe, because of the ubiquitousness and pervasiveness of pornography. They don’t pull that stuff out of their asses — enacting scenes common to porn and making pornography out of them over the body of a young girl (and sometimes selling it!). They enact what has been repeatedly modeled for them and given the stamp of approval, evidently, in that it’s everywhere available to them, no problem, what’s the big deal? Pornography is all about freedom of speech, and so on.

    We need to read feminists from China on this. Sadly there is the “Great Firewall of China” which makes it difficult to do the kind of research that would be really interesting to do, but I know there are Chinese feminists throughout the world who are thinking and writing about this. I mean, we have the huge gatherings of feminists regularly in Beijing or we have had.

    Laurelin, WP uses html, so go carrot b carrot, then the word you want to bold, then carrot slash b carrot afterwards, and the same with italics, (use i). For blockquotes, go carrot blockquote carrot and then at the end of the quote carrot slash blockquote carrot.
    :)

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 5:02 pm
  20. I’m poking around.

    I have learned there are 16 million Christians in China, they worship freely and Bibles are printed contrary to U.S. propaganda.

    And that 51 Chinese bloggers are in prison.

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 5:36 pm
  21. 20 million Chinese are Muslim. Thirty-33 percent are Buddhist, Confucianist or Taoist.

    China executes more people via capital punishment than any other country. 90 percent of 2004 executions were in China.

    I was thinking about something, though,

    We are all aware of Tianmen Square and human rights issues in China. But you know, Rachel Corey withstood an Israeli tank about to mow down Palestinian homes, and the tank ran over Rachel Corey.

    We have all, as Americans, been subject to a lot of racism/prejudice/stereotyping of the Chinese, I know everybody here knows that, just wanted to say it anyway.

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 5:50 pm
  22. My point was not that feminists should avoid mentioning China for fear that we might be accused of keeping strange ideological bedfellows.

    It was that feminists have nothing to gain from approving porn-bans that are not explicitly about freeing women, not even an easy rhetorical gotcha.

    I totally agree with your statements about the harm that porn does and the effect that it has.

    I simply don’t think that women’s status will be improved by any attempted remedies that are not designed specifically to improve women’s status.

    Posted by funnie | January 4, 2008, 5:51 pm
  23. Yeah, I don’t approve this ban.

    I just want to think about it and talk about it before quickly moving to say “I don’t agree with it!” as though that’s all there is to say. I think there’s a lot to say and think about.

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 6:03 pm
  24. We have all, as Americans, been subject to a lot of racism/prejudice/stereotyping of the Chinese, I know everybody here knows that, just wanted to say it anyway.

    Same here in Britain. As typical westerners, we tend to either ignore our human rights abuses, or consider them less heinous, or more ‘justified’ than those of the Chinese. the Chinese are very much stereotyped and blamed for things we have been doing ourselves. The current thing I can think of is blaming China and the other ‘industrialising’ nations for pollution, despite the fact that America is by far the worst in this respect (with us not far behind). After all, it was the so-called ‘developed’ nations who began this in the first place.

    As far as I can see, the racism directed towards non-Western countries for human rights abuses does not help us to try and stop such abuses, either here or abroad. It functions so that we can sit on our privileges and feel suprerior, and thus deny our responsibilities.

    Okay, rant over. It’s a ranty day for me!

    Posted by Laurelin | January 4, 2008, 6:05 pm
  25. Thinking more, it annoys me that as feminists we have to be so very careful to let everybody know we oppose government bans of pornography — even though for the most part we do. I have never favored censorship of pornography or obscenity laws. One reason it annoys me is, I’ve witnessed the palpable sigh of relief when the pro-porn side realizes we aren’t trying to get laws in place which will hinder their access to pornography. There’s no interest in the real harm to real women (and children and men) that porn causes. The only interest, bottom line, is “don’t touch my porn stash,” and so long as we vow we won’t, we can talk all day long about the harm porn causes and what do pornhounds care.

    Since in fact we have no MacKinnon-Dworkin ordinance in place in the U.S., or anything remotely similar, or anything coming down the pike any time soon, our arguments have no teeth in them. We can oppose porn and get loud about it and deface magazines and movies and billboards on occasion, but the porn stashes grow and grow, untouched, and girls and women are harmed, victimized, raped in precisely the way men and boys have witnessed in porn. So long as we promise we won’t advocate for laws against porn, though, or in any way actually come between men and their pornography, pornhounds could not care less about the girls and women pornography harms. Or they can mouth a few platitudes and sound like good guys secure in the knowledge that we don’t really have any plan in place which will eliminate porn. All we have is words, and the most victimized among us dare not speak those.

    This is intense for me in part because a good friend of one of my daughters was gang-raped last week. She doesn’t want to tell. She is excusing the boys. She is saying she bears some responsibility because she was “high.” She is saying she has to stay friends with them or they will tell. My daughter is devastated, has gone to counselors and will seek counseling. One of the boys involved had been friends with this girl since elementary school and was also my daughter’s friend. Nevertheless, this girl was not human to them and she isn’t quite human even to herself, for god’s sake. It is just killing me.

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 6:15 pm
  26. There’s something else. I’m not saying anyone here is doing this, but it’s something I’ve picked up on in various places, this, “eww, we’re not like the CHINESE. We wouldn’t do THAT.”

    Well, we do a whole lot of horrible stuff, speaking about Americans and westerners, so a hearty and resounding bullshit to that nonsense.

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 6:17 pm
  27. I think I’m (in the extreme minority) in favor of gov’t bans on the sale/distribution of penetrative sex photos/videos.

    And, I’m not attempting to shut down discussion of the idea, nor am I (given my position, above) very concerned about being careful to repudiate censorship/banning.

    Not that you’ve said that I am doing those things, just that you feel some pressure about those things from someone/something.

    Just thought it was worth pointing out what my posts here are saying – that I think this move is wrong *because of motive* because I think that *motive matters* when it comes to results – not because the concern is not real, not because the tactic is incomprehensible, not because the choice is unjustifiable, not because the Chinese are scary, etc.

    Again, not shutting down discussion of China’s porn-ban. That IS my discussion of a porn-ban: possibly a good thing if done to free women, but I have no reason to assume that’s why this is being done.

    Posted by funnie | January 4, 2008, 7:23 pm
  28. How long do you think it will be before the yayporn crowd accuses you of supporting censorship/communists/fundamentalists, etc?

    Despite the fact that you’ve clearly stated you didn’t, you still don’t like porn and are therefore their enemy. Because using and abusing other human beings is so hawt!

    Posted by Renali | January 4, 2008, 8:13 pm
  29. Thanks, funnie, that makes sense. I didn’t know you favored government bans on sale/distribution of penetrative porn. You are the first radfem I’ve encountered who does (or at least who will openly admit she does!)

    You’re right, I do feel as though discussion of how to end pornography/prostitution moves too swiftly to “but we can’t ban it or censor it! We aren’t evil like that!” Sort of the way it bothers me when something a brilliant radfem has said/done is prefaced with, “I don’t agree with her on everything, BUT…” , leaving the impression that the disagreements somehow are far more critical to mention than whatever brilliant contribution.

    I think you’re completely right on that the motive matters and all the more since I purchased and have just begun reading a superb and intriguing essay by Chinese feminist Xinyan Jiang entitled “The Dilemma Faced by Chinese Feminists.” I haven’t read it all the way through yet, but it’s really really REALLY interesting. Jiang’s view is that China’s cultural revolution under Mao Zedong, in which men and women were declared to be the same, and whatever men could do, women could do and should be fully empowered to do, failed to achieve gains for women (and in certain ways set women back) because heavy physical labor has been central to China’s productivity, economy and daily life. She writes in her conclusion:

    A well-developed economy is a necessary condition of sexual equality, although it is not a sufficient condition. The main reason for the lower status of women in Third World countries is not that people’s ideas are backward or that there are bad governmental policies, but that the economies of those countries are too undeveloped for sexual equality to be achieved. When ordinary people in these countries still rely on intense physical strength to carry and obtain daily necessities, how can anyone convince them that men and women are equally valuable to their families. When heavy physical labor is still important in farm work and industries where mechanization is not yet a reality, how can anyone convince people there that men and women are equally efficient in production. It is not plausible to assume that women in these countries could gain equality if they had a higher degree of feminist consciousness and their governments had been more supportive to feminist movements. Without a certain level of economic development, true sexual equality in developing countries such as China remains a utopian ideal.

    She says that in fact, the declarations of men’s and women’s “sameness” set women back:

    Women’s efforts to perform as much heavy labor as men during the Cultural Revolution not only failed to bring equality to women but also reinforced negative sexual stereotypes…

    During the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese media often reported that working women performed as well as or better than men in heavy industries and in farm work, but few reports were true. Most…were…official propaganda. For historical and political reasons, no documents and statistical data are available to reflect objectively how those physical campaigns between Chinese women and men really went. As a result, Chinese women’s personal stories stand as evidence. I and many of my friends did our best to match our male counterparts in physical abilities. We lifted and carried heavy crop bags, although our waists felt as if they would break; we worked in cold water or performed heavy labor in the fields even if we were menstruating. And when we menstruated we subjected ourselves to health dangers… These experiences have shattered the belief that, at the current level of production in China, to ignore the physical differences between the sexes and to eliminate the sexual division of labor will result in sexual equality…

    The reality is very cruel but undeniable. … Prior to the 1980s, Chinese feminists ignored this reality, but they no longer do, having experienced the Cultural Revolution. …Although it might not be the best strategy for sexual equality in China to emphasize sexual differences, to move from ignoring physical sexual differences to recognizing them is not a regression, but forward progress from the Cultural Revolution.

    What happened to Chinese women…does not prove that women are physically weaker than men in an absolute sense or that women are physically inferior to men. Neither does it show that physical differences between men and women are purely natural. Anyone who knows Chinese history would agree that the past oppression of women in China has contributed much to Chinese women’s physical weakness…As Alison Jaggar points out, the relation between human biology and social structure is a dialectical one. (Jaggar 1984) Women’s biological sex and women’s gender identity interact with and shape each other. … The physical samenesses and differences are not fixed and unchangeable.

    Nevertheless, physical sex differences should not be ignored when we search for sex equality… Women’s liberation is not just a matter of degendering and changing women’s identities at the intellectual level. … Chinese women’s failure to physically match men during the Cultural Revolution proves that physical sex differences, in a certain social context, really affect the reality and perception of sexual equality. It shows not only that the denial of the existing physical sex differences is not the way to sexual equality in a society in which heavy physical labor is still very important, but also more generally that sexual equality cannot be achieved by making women the same as men, because women are physically different from men. As Catharine MacKinnon has stated, given that the concept of sex presupposes differences, if sex equality is interpreted as women’s being the same as men, then the term “sex equality” is contradictory. It presupposes both that women are the same as men and that women are different from men. Therefore, sex equality, so interpreted, is unattainable. (MacKinnon 1987, 33).

    In other parts of the essay she describes the way that during the Cultural Revolution, men began to attempt to take care of women in various ways when the women struggled to do the hard physical labor required. But this special treatment, though it eased the physical burdens, caused women to face increased discrimination in the workplace and in the family (because females are simply not as economically valuable as men in a developing economy where huge numbers of people still lack food, clothing, education, and essentials of life, and where the economy depends on heavy physical labor, and this also goes to the issue of female vs. male babies.) She says, too, that unemployment is a big problem in China right now and that because, again, hard physical labor is consistently required for productivity, males are preferred over females. She says:

    Confronted with [this] situation, Chinese feminists are inevitably in a dilemma: on the one hand if women deny physical differences between men and women, they will physically hurt themselves; on the other hand, if they admit these differences, they cannot efficiently fight for sexual equality.

    Given that this is the situation, there are manyy things to think about. It’s logical to assume that large numbers of Chinese women may have involved themselves in pornography because of poverty, sex/job discrimination. If acknowleding sex differences is seen as an improvement over the Cultural Revolution (because women physically suffered from it, and Jiang says women who went through the Cultural Revolution are in comparatively poor health and live shorter lives), that acknowledgment is sadly going to shore up sexist institutions, including porn/prostitution.

    When I thought about all of this initially I was vaguely recalling the Cultural Revolution but haven’t thought much about it for ages.

    Anyway, the article is from Hypatia, Vol. 15, No. 3, Summer 2000, available online for $13.50.

    Posted by womensspace | January 4, 2008, 8:58 pm
  30. How long do you think it will be before the yayporn crowd accuses you of supporting censorship/communists/fundamentalists, etc?

    Not long, I bet. if they see a straw, they’ll grasp at it…

    Posted by Laurelin | January 4, 2008, 9:31 pm
  31. Yeah, it’s a newer idea I’ve been mulling. There may well be good reasons not to ban that kind of porn that I haven’t fully thought through yet. I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about concepts similar to that Swedish law on prostitution – legalizing being sold while punishing the selling and buying of women. Combined with Dworkin/MacKinnon-style lawsuit actionability for harm done, it seems like a great solution to both porn and prostitution.

    And I like the idea of specifying penetration so as not to mix stupid “I know it when I see it” definitions of obscenity all up with banning/censorship, thus gutting any “objectionable” art, including women’s art…(much as I think naked women should not be “art” in this climate at all, banning is a bad idea there)…

    Instead, I think the penetrative sex thing is a step toward removing the artificial distinction between prostitution and porn, when the latter so overtly involves buying a woman’s body for very similar sexual use and abuse, right down to the rape/disease risk. IOW, it’s not “acting” if you’re being fucked.

    And if paying to fuck a woman is illegal, and making money of a woman being fucked is illegal, it follows that photos/videos of women being fucked are records of criminal activity. So, the material itself isn’t banned, but the commissioning/selling/distribution of it would be.

    Posted by funnie | January 4, 2008, 9:45 pm
  32. That article looks interesting; thanks.

    Posted by funnie | January 4, 2008, 9:45 pm
  33. And I like the idea of specifying penetration so as not to mix stupid “I know it when I see it” definitions of obscenity all up with banning/censorship, thus gutting any “objectionable” art, including women’s art…(much as I think naked women should not be “art” in this climate at all, banning is a bad idea there)…

    This is really great, funnie, lots to think about.

    Posted by womensspace | January 5, 2008, 6:37 am
  34. It is rare that women consider naked women “art.” This is purely the obsession of men, and they make any excuse to enshrine the objectification of the female body.

    I think women actually hate this, but often feel that they don’t know how to attack objectification. Or if women do participate, it is for economic reasons– not something they would choose so “willingly” if other options were easier to access.

    Will women be on the courts throwing the male pornographers in jail in China? Let’s say we had a women’s panel, and the most dreadful violations of women’s bodies on film were then used as evidence against these men. What is women had power to punish, power to execute, power to really destroy men economically and in every way imaginable for this crime against women? What if the collective anger of 5000 years of male tyranny and harassment of women just exploded on the world scene? Men would fear even going on their front doors at high noon! Wouldn’t that be something!

    Posted by Satsuma | January 5, 2008, 9:03 am
  35. I’m finally trying to get in a few cents in on this one.

    Satsuma,

    I agree with everything you wrote. But for that to work, women would have to feel comfortable enough (or angry enough not to care) that there would be lashing out from men, stigma attempted to be attached to these women (as is attached to all women), and whatever ingenuities of male supremacy can come alive.

    But yeah, I want women to feel identified with one another, not poised against each other, as I feel is so much the case among this younger generation.

    This ban is so openly about morality–obscenity and decency are the terms relied upon.

    Heart, that article was really interested, thanks for posting. It seems that valuing jobs that require hard labor, labor it is truly believed only men or “man-like” women can perform seems itself to be discriminatory.

    I can’t think of an immediate solution to offer in place, though. :(

    Posted by Laur | January 6, 2008, 8:42 pm
  36. Laur said:
    “that there would be lashing out from men, stigma …”

    Men always lash out at women when women demand freedom. They always do this. Women have to decide that they will fight back and support women, and that women have nothing much to lose in opposing the male pornographers and objectifyers.

    If enough women stopped buying the make-up and high heels and stopped posing for playboy or worse, this whole objectification industry would pretty much come to an end.

    When will women learn that it doesn’t matter what men think at all? They are irrelevant to our freedom, we are in charge and we can end this idiocy known as the objectification of the female form.

    I am very surprised at how afraid women are of men or their stupid opinions. I am still amazed that intelligent women would even waste time dating boys who are such jerks in high school?

    I’m still amazed that women publically complain about wearing high heels, when they could just bloody well STOP WEARING THEM! Stop buying and stop wearing this stuff, just stop it women! Seriously, what keeps women so fearful of male opinion. I’m not even talking about the threat of male violence, which can be somewhat remedied by becoming a black belt in karate and beating the stuffing out of the oppressors now and then. Women, you can leran self-defense, and you can burn high heels in public! You can do this, but will you? (Again, this is to women of the world, not the obviously non-high heeled wearing freewomen here!

    Posted by Satsuma | January 7, 2008, 1:26 am
  37. ***Men always lash out at women when women demand freedom.***

    True, and often when women aren’t demanding freedom either, just to make good and sure. This is a great little deliberately thought out tactic called overkill.

    Posted by Branjor | January 7, 2008, 2:26 am

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

Recent Posts

Blog Stats

  • 2,471,297 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

The Farm at Huge Creek, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, The Feminist Hullaballoo

206672_10150156355071024_736021023_6757674_7143952_n

59143_424598116023_736021023_5026689_8235073_n

Afia Walking Tree

More Photos
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 237 other followers