The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has brought about political, financial and social impacts globally, with girls being affected disproportionately the world over.
In China, the gendered impacts of COVID-19 have manifested in varied methods. In mainstream media — like on TV exhibits and state-run media — girls and girls front-line staff specifically had been underrepresented or misrepresented. These depictions had been extremely controversial and provoked backlash led by feminists on social media.
Misrepresentation of ladies front-line staff
Heroes in Hurt’s Manner was the primary TV sequence about front-line staff combating the outbreak in China that aired throughout September 2020. Though claiming to be “based mostly on real-life tales” of front-line staff in Wuhan — the place the outbreak was first reported — it sparked extreme criticism for portraying girls medical staff as subordinate and showcased them as reluctant to move to the entrance traces.
Along with portraying girls as subordinate, the shortage of primary provides corresponding to sanitary merchandise, making their jobs even more durable, was typically uncared for throughout dominant narratives. To keep away from speaking about these on a regular basis issues, state media known as girls medical staff who shaved their heads “probably the most stunning warriors” praising them for his or her devotion.
This under- and misrepresentation of ladies triggered waves of backlash led by feminists throughout social media.
Re-writing historical past by making seen ‘herstory’
My latest analysis has been analyzing how feminists took benefit of social media to reply to gender inequality and injustice through the COVID-19 outbreak in China. The analysis reveals that Sina Weibo has develop into an important website for ladies combating in opposition to stereotypical media representations.
On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media web site in China, feminists created hashtags corresponding to “#她能” (#SheCan), “#看见女性劳动者” (#SeeingWomenWorkers), “#逆行中的她们” (#HeroinesinHarmsWay) with the intention of serving to girls really feel empowered. The hashtags labored as a counter-narrative to what was occurring within the mainstream — a story that neglects and degrades girls’s contributions in combating COVID-19.
Their hashtags are supposed to function a rally cry that invitations customers to share their private tales and emotions. They’re additionally a method to rewrite herstory and showcase the function girls performed in combating the pandemic.
Underneath a put up that criticized the TV sequence Heroes in Hurt’s Manner, there have been two feedback, every of which bought over 3,000 likes. These feedback learn:
“Throughout probably the most critical time of the epidemic, when the neighborhood wanted volunteers, nobody was prepared to go, and eventually my mom took the initiative to enroll, the trash screenwriter has no coronary heart.”
“#SeeingWomenWorkers I’m indignant I went to Hubei to assist a neighborhood hospital, and the overwhelming majority of medical employees are girls. I witnessed them reduce their hair, hug for farewell, I can not settle for this type of drama.”
Weibo permits every remark to open a sub-thread, the place different customers can reply to a particular remark. Underneath the 2 feedback listed above, different commenters posted a number of testimonies that endorsed the unique feedback and posts. This work contributed to re-constructing the misrepresentation of ladies.
Archiving emotions in opposition to “right collective reminiscence”
Feminist responses to the dominant narrative are loaded and social media posts are stuffed with of anger. Emotion has lengthy been taken significantly in feminist research.
Anger within the collective sharing of testimonies highlights girls’s contributions through the outbreak and features as a method to attach people with comparable experiences and emotions.
Emotive expressions and phrases corresponding to reminiscence (“记忆”), mesmerizing (“记住”), documenting (“记录”), right reminiscence (“正确记忆”) and collective reminiscence (“集体记忆”) often appeared in Weibo posts that clawed again in opposition to the mainstream narrative. This implies that ladies are utilizing Weibo as a method to archive emotions, and to problematize how collective reminiscences are being created about who’s concerned in combating COVID-19.
A shift of media angle
For the reason that COVID-19 outbreak handed its peak its peak in China, state-run media shops within the nation have begun picturing girls as an important power in confronting the virus. If and to what extent the feminist counter-narratives on social media influenced mainstream media’s agenda are price additional examine.
These counter-narratives did play an necessary function in elevating consciousness of the stereotypical media illustration of ladies throughout COVID-19. And the interconnection and interplay, commenting specifically, enabled by Weibo, helped facilitate the method.
By bringing quite a lot of customers collectively, Weibo helped solicit emotions of belonging and neighborhood, or as political theorist Jodi Dean phrases “neighborhood with out neighborhood.”
We must always not assume social media decided the best way for the emergence of affective solidarity amongst girls misrepresented within the dominant narratives. Nonetheless, social media has develop into an necessary website the place fragmented voices can come collectively and discover a voice.
Jinman Zhang doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.