changing faces Q: What is feminism about? A: The international feminist movement fights for equal rights and social changes to realise the idea that men and women have equal capacities. Q: How is the mainland unique in respect to this issue? A: Unlike their foreign counterparts, mainland women were granted relatively equal rights without a fight after 1949 when the PRC introduced a law that said women should work and be paid the same as men. It is doubtful Chinese women are aware of their rights. Our work places more emphasis on education and raising awareness. At the same time, the differences between men and women have diminished for about four decades. Before then, women were required to work as hard as men and dress in the same military style. They were encouraged to be 'iron girls'. Q: How do you become a feminist? A: I was born a feminist, I think. When I studied literature at university, I noticed there were very few female writers and heroines were always described as weak. I am a poet and my poems are based on things like philosophy, politics and social problems. A lot of readers say my work is not that of a female writer because female poets should focus on love. My experience of marriage also enabled me to feel how disadvantaged women can be. I found it extremely difficult to be a good wife as well as successful in my career. I studied feminism and I wanted to improve social attitudes towards women, especially those who want to pursue their own careers. Q: What group of women do you focus on? A: I focus on highly educated women in cities. They find it very difficult to find jobs and boyfriends. It is very common for the intellectual community to discriminate against women. Almost all employers prefer males because women need a long time for pregnancy and maternity leave, and they will not concentrate on their jobs as much as men. Men usually prefer young, pretty and subservient girls instead of career-oriented rivals. It is a large waste of social resources. Q: What do you think of the popular saying on the mainland that it is better for a woman to have a good husband than a successful career? A: It stems from the poor social reality for women. They do not have a smooth ride turning their abilities into career achievements so rely on marriage to give them a decent life. Q: What should be done to overcome the adverse conditions women face? A: The mainland should promote education about gender equality and introduce legislation to ensure women's rights are not infringed.