A Feminist Comment on Pengshuai’s Case
English Translator: Sara Liao, Ruihan, Qiqi
I would comment on the Peng Shuai’s case. 1. Peng Shuai’s disclosure of being sexually abused
by Zhang Gaoli, the former Vice Premiere of the People’s Republic of China, is crucial. Though
only the tip of the iceberg, it exposes the real life of Chinese highest cadres, on how their power
masked their hypocrisy, and how they are excessively corrupted. Peng’s disclosure was soon
deleted and censored in China. But the censorship only helps to reveal the fear of Chinese top
leaders, a fear that would have only been imagined but now put on the stage through silencing
the voice in seconds in the witness of many. Why people find Peng’s story so real?
2. Because everyone knows that it must be true. In fact, the cadres have always been so rotten
and degenerate; they have always exploited women but hidden in the dark. So, " speaking up" is
all the more important. Peng’s disclosure is part of the #MeToo movement in China, and also
more than that. I can’t praise #MeToo more! Its momentum has garnered attentions, raised
consciousness, and driven actions for change in the past three years. Its impact is
unprecedented. But the impact does not solely relate to the power position of those being
accused: it is NOT a Chinese version of David-vs.-Goliath with many digital-savvy Davids
confronting a handful mighty Goliaths.
3. What stands at the core of this battle is the courage of the victims/survivors who speak up
and powerfully shake up many others in the society. Their disclosures have created ripple
effect, inspiring more and more victims/survivors to stand up and speak up compellingly.
#MeToo challenges what used to be considered as “normal,” especially on what can be said and
what experiences and relationships are acceptable. For one, though naming, saying, and
speaking about the sexual violence one has experienced are extremely difficult, these actions
forcefully confront what are hidden in our daily language. For the other, the victims/survivors’
experiences simply testify what goes wrong and unacceptable.
4. #MeToo as a social movement is almost spontaneous. In China, since July 2018, one after
another victim/survivor, like Peng Shuai, has bravely stood up to tell their stories, with many
others voluntarily helped each other, which have sustained the movement so far. The
contagious #MeToo break through layers of censorship to rock the world. Peng’s memoir
foregrounds another “not perfect victim.” Shackled by patriarchal norms and language, and
with enormous fear, Peng is struggling to speak, to share, and to name her experience.
5. She has tremendous shame and guilty, even touching upon the word “love” — a patriarchal
toxin that tames any victim/survivor in an abusive sexual relationship. Yet, what is striking is
that she knows deep in her heart that all those she has experiences were unfair and she was
abused, though she could not name it with the dearth of language. She has the desire to search
for the justice that has not yet come.
6. Peng’s narrative is highly consistent with many other #MeToo stories. We must recognize and acknowledge the daunting task they did: each individual works up to shake the society for the unspeakability and normalization of sexual violence. I understand why Peng was self-blaming, why she said he was a good guy, why she mentioned love, among others. I also truly sympathize with her in her shame and anger. The society must acknowledge that nobody should be forced into such a situation, and women have always known about this point.
7. 实际上她的自述的不完美本身非常重要。本来就是要彰显这个社会破裂的一部分。那些讲得很好的故事，有时候是宣传，有时候是谎言，有时候至少是脱离女性的生活真情 。然而所有理性完美的人都没有彭帅勇敢。所有人都害怕，每个人站出来之前都知道将付出巨大代价，口干舌燥，完全孤独。 这是最了不起的。
7. In fact the imperfection of her self-account is very important in itself. It is supposed to highlight a broken part of this society in the first place. Those well-formulated stories are sometimes propaganda, sometimes lies, and sometimes at least are not a truth of life divorced from women’s experience. Yet all the rational perfectionists are not as brave as Peng Shuai. Everyone is afraid, everyone knows that there will be a huge price to pay before they come forward, a dry thirsty mouth because of endless arguing and explanations, and complete loneliness in the journey. This is the most remarkable.
8. 我指的是可以从为什么总有人站出来开始理解米兔，是基于不可遏制的对尚未有的公正的要求。然而这样的意识很难在完全孤立中上升。女人是被父权分化和控制的，所以很难反抗。需要和其他人直接间接呼应，受到其他人的示范。彭帅当然不是米兔组织化中的一员，但她是这样的呼应和示范的效应的成员之一 。
8. I am referring to the fact that one can start to understand #MeToo from why there is always someone coming forward, based on the insuppressible demand on justice that is not yet available. Yet such consciousness can hardly rise in full isolation. Women are divided and controlled by patriarchy, so they can hardly resist. They need indirect or direct echoes from others, and examples from others voicing for . Of course, Peng Shuai is not a member of the organized #MeToo movement, but she is a member of those connected through the effect from such echoes and demonstrations.
9. Everything is under surveillance and censored before it was even sent out. This is imaginable that many #MeToo voices cannot be heard at all. The bar of voicing oneself today is very high, but #MeToo breaks through the fence of censorship all the time. It relies on what the victims’ accusations of blood and tears have touched and shaken so that people cannot stop from talking about it and they would like to spread information online on behalf of the censored. Precisely by relying on this spontaneous tactic of more people joining in, eventually, everyone heard the voices from victims and the censorship became ineffective.
10. So that is why we see Zhang Gaoli, Kris Wu, Zhu Jun, Liu Qiangdong…of course not because #MeToo only exposes them, but because they are only the tip of the iceberg that #MeToo can bring forward to the public. But let’s also “thank” them. It is their fame that brings the effect of #MeToo to more places. Although the mass media almost have no coverage on them nor the social media — already too much deletion happened, the effect of #MeToo is still rising, constantly breaking the unspeakable ceiling.
11. Don’t consume it as “gossip”. It is not an affair. It is VIOLENCE. It shows the enormous, violence-oriented structure that normalizes the violence and sometimes makes her seem voluntary. This structure leaves the victims/survivors no spaces. It is thus irresponsible to talk about gender without bringing up power relations. It is truly heartbroken to see that, Peng Shuai, the most outstanding and independent Chinese woman, still have this experience. A lesson for us: rights does not come with your career or the uplift of your economic status. Rights come with your fight.
12. #MeToo is supposed to be a troublemaker to this society. In such a harmonious society like this…it is crucially important that someone makes troubles, meaning the fact that this society has not died yet. #MeToo is heavily regulated on social media platform through limitation of clicks and data traffic, always warned and dismissed, it nevertheless has witnessed many new opportunities of creating connection among people in the wake of the next victim comes forward. People are always searching resistance and connection, although on the other hand they usually alternate between excitement and depression and have too many worries.
13.#Metoo’s ever-increasing effects also means escalating crises. Each time, everyone is so worried about the safety of victims or survivors. Every time, it is more obvious that #Metoo is becoming the hit target. But I will not predict a final confrontation, and there will be no such thing as a final moment, because the crackdown has continued and expanded. Also, do not expect #Metoo to become a turning point of qualitative change for the ‘substantial change’ of the society.
14,#Metoo is dramatic and turbulent. There is no linear direction or target destination for #Metoo. Additionally, the movement has always been incredibly fragile. Despite its uncertainty and unpromising nature, women still contribute to the movement due to their moral virtue. Meanwhile, know that there will always be the next person coming forward in ways that we can’t even imagine. Many people’s first reaction to Peng Shuai’s accusation is being terrified: they are terrified that the whole internet will be revenged. I don’t, because the ‘door’ is constantly being closed.
15. Since worry and fear are now usual for our daily life, I would rather focus on the other side. It is remarkable to see how women hold up the limited, remaining space and tear apart something. We should praise it vigorously. In this process, more and more people have awakened and connected with each other, making their short lives meaningful. This is the most valuable part. Feminism doesn’t need to undertake any bigger responsibility other than its own, though it does. As for Peng Shuai, I believe in her, too. Women are tough. She will survive. End.