Sex writer questions need for celebration

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2005, 12:00am

Groups around the world rally to highlight the scant progress made in preventing violence and achieving equality

Mainland literary femme fatale Mu Zimei yesterday questioned the purpose of celebrating International Women's Day, but also seized the opportunity to call on Chinese women to be more independent.

'Why should I celebrate Women's Day? It's an inane holiday. Neither women nor men care,' said the writer, best known for a banned online diary which detailed her sexual conquests.

'A friend of mine just changed her MSN Messenger [online chat] name to 'Women's Day, a day abandoned by feminists'. I don't know why she did that, but it's funny anyway.'

The writer's remarks contrasted with reports in the state media, which marked yesterday by commenting on progress in protecting women's rights and running profiles of successful women.

In an editorial, the China Daily said a 'harmonious society' would require a balance between yin and yang, the feminine and the masculine.

'A prolonged effort is needed if things are to change,' it said.

Mu Zimei said change would not come from a single holiday.

'You can get gifts and flowers on Valentine's Day. You can join sports competitions on Labour Day. But what traditions does Women's Day have?' said the writer, who lost her job writing for a Guangzhou-based magazine in 2003 after the government banned her sexually explicit weblog and subsequent book.

She is now writing a column for a Shanghai newspaper.

She said that although economic development had improved women's status on the mainland, they still clung to tradition.

'Most women still believe men should pay for dates. If women always want free meals, how can they criticise men at the same time? This does not help women win real respect,' she said.

A recent survey by Shanghai's East China Normal University showed most female college students put marriage and family above career and money.

'The feminism campaign today has just helped address some problems. Feminists are still asking for rights from men, which is equivalent to admitting being weak,' Mu Zimei said.

Critics say problems range from spousal abuse and sexual harassment to unequal wages and lack of political representation. In Beijing alone, the number of reported domestic violence cases doubled to more than 800 last year.

A survey in the capital showed 86 per cent of women said they had been victims of sexual harassment.

'The key to improvement is the concept of self-awakening,' Mu Zimei said. 'A few pioneering Chinese women are becoming independent. They never feel weaker than men, so they dare to say 'Why do I need a man?''

Additional reporting by Lillian Yang