A statement from a discussion page for the #MeToo campaign in China, posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, says “the only thing I want for the coming Lunar New Year is anti-sexual harassment rulings… You can take my plate away, but you cannot shut my mouth.”
“Rice bunny” (米兔), pronounced as “mi tu”, is a nickname given to the #MeToo campaign by Chinese social media users. The #RiceBunny hashtag is being accompanied by rice bowls and bunny head emojis, this is being used by Chinese women who are trying to expose sexual harassment. Some other hashtags would be #MeTooChina or #IAmAlso.
The #MeToo movement in America is bringing awareness internationally. In countries like China where women don’t have much of a voice, the #MeToo campaign has shined light to the sexual harassment not only women in the work place, but students in Universities have to face.
The reasoning behind using characters to make a statement is to avoid the so commonly used censorship online. Internet censorship is a major challenge for the #MeToo campaign in China. Many people who have campaigned the event on the internet have reported their post being removed, but this isn’t stopping them from having a voice.
So many cases of sexual harassment occur in china that the world did not know about until now. Students in universities have started to reveal their secrets with sexual harassment from professors. Chinese universities were the first to take part in the sexual harassment fight. There is an institutional power imbalance between students and their advisors, and no boundaries between the professors and the students. Many students have shared their stories, some saying that they have had to be slaves to their professors or give a gift to secure opportunities. Predatory professors often used scores, scholarships, and even the extreme to lure or blackmail students.
This is where the #MeToo campaign in China grew not only with women who are victims of sexual harassment but also men who have suffered. Unlike the western part of the world, feminist women are seen as trouble makers rather than people who are trying to make a difference and gain equal rights.
It is hard to expect women in China to follow Western movements to achieve gender equality. But as the #RiceBunny hashtag on social media proved, even under political pressure, #MeToo activist continue to use their creativity to go around the strict political system they live under.
As long as these fighters do not quit empowering others, we can feel optimistic about a safer, more equal future for women in China and all over the world.
Speak up and use the power of social media to have a voice, share your story.