Above Ground: China's Young Feminist Activists and Forty Moments of Transformation

Curated by Lü Pin, Media Monitor for Women Network (a Beijing-based NGO)


In March 2015, the arrest and detention of five activists in China brought international attention to the feminist movement in that country, which has battled gender discrimination, sexual harassment, violence against women, and homophobia for many years. While the West has only recently turned its attention to the “Feminist Five” and their fellow activists, China has a long and deep history of feminist thought and action. This exhibit seeks to make visible the work of recent feminist activists in China, to share their work with a broader audience, and to spark interest in the history and present of feminist activists, advocates, and scholars in China.

This digital exhibit is a faithful representation of a physical exhibit of the same name, which was hosted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender from January 2016 through June 2016. Unless otherwise noted, all textual materials were part of the original, physical exhibit.

Using materials from the physical exhibit, this digital exhibit was created by Liangyu Fu (Chinese Studies Librarian) and Meredith Kahn (Women’s Studies Librarian), who created additional descriptive information for the images, as well as a bibliography of relevant sources.

Click on images in the exhibit to see more information, including transcriptions and translations of protest signs and explanations of Chinese slang.

Curator's Remarks

身临险境 / "In the Perilous Environment," Lü Pin, feminist activistRemarks delivered at the opening of the exhibit on January 26,..

Feminist Activism in China

Young Feminist Activism (YFA) is a movement that emerged in China in 2012. With an emphasis on self-determination, direct action,..

The Five Sisters: The Case of the Feminist Five

On March 7, 2015—the eve of International Women’s Day—five young feminist activists: Wu Rongrong, Zheng Churan, Wang Man, Wei Tingting,..

Opposing Domestic Violence

According to official data, one quarter of Chinese women have suffered domestic violence by their husbands. Young Chinese feminist activism..

Opposing Gender Stigma

Fighting gender discrimination is central to Chinese feminism. Gender discrimination wrongly insists that females should adhere to strict behavioral and..

Fight for Public Space

In early 2012, Young Feminist Activism began raising awareness and demanding more public women’s bathrooms, as access to sufficient facilities..

Gender Discrimination in Education and Employment

Chinese women are making great contributions to society, however, they continue to be regularly excluded from having equal opportunities in..

Protesting Sexual Assault

In 2012, a group of feminists used performance art to protest sexual harassment on the subway and documented their actions..

Demanding Lesbian Rights

Young Chinese feminist activists value and support LGBTQ rights, in part because many identify as members of the LGBTQ community...

Supporting Marginalized Groups

Well-educated and urban women constitute the majority of young feminist activists, but their social concerns extend beyond the limits of..


Barlow, Tani E. The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.
Basu, Amrita. Women’s Movements in the..

About this exhibit

This digital exhibit is a faithful representation of a physical exhibit of the same name, which was hosted by the..