Chizuko Ueno: the Japanese writer stoking China’s feminist underground

Ueno’s books are hugely popular in China, where a crackdown on large-scale organising has stifled a nascent feminist movement

To find evidence that China’s feminist movement is gaining momentum – despite strict government censorship and repression – check bookshelves, nightstands and digital libraries. There, you might find a copy of one of Chizuko Ueno’s books. The 74-year-old Japanese feminist and author of Feminism from Scratch and Patriarchy and Capitalism has sold more than a million books in China, according to Beijing Open Book, which tracks sales. Of these, 200,000 were sold in January and February alone.

Ueno, a professor of sociology at the University of Tokyo, was little known outside Chinese academia until she delivered a 2019 matriculation speech at the university in which she railed against its sexist admissions policies, sexual “abuse” by male students against their female peers, and the pressure women felt to downplay their academic achievements.

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