Chongqing's MeToo moment: girl takes off bra in public places


With the MeToo campaign spreading like wildfire around the world, a Chinese girl has used a unique way to express anger over sexual harassment: taking off bras in public places.

Helen calls it a kind of action art that she has performed in Chongqing's public places ranging from office buildings and bustling streets to karaoke rooms and subway stations.

Each bra is sewed with a strip of cloth printed with a slogan showing a preposterous reason that men use to launch sexual assaults against women. The slogans vary with the change of public places.

Inspired by Weinstein case

Helen's whim came into being after the New York Times published a story last fall detailing accusations of decades of sexual harassment and attack against famous film producer Harvey Weinstein from Hollywood actresses. The Weinstein scandal shocked the world and triggered a widespread MeToo movement, helped by which millions of women had the courage to share their bad memories of enduring sexual violence.

"At first, I just considered it as an ordinary case involving a heavyweight. But later, I was shocked after I learnt that sexual harassment existed in US circles of politics, business and art," said Helen.

When the MeToo movement broke, Helen was studying journalism in the United States, which gave her an opportunity to read numerous reports about the sexual harassment cases in China, which were typical of a former Peking University professor who was accused of sexually assaulting his undergraduate student who committed suicide in 1998.

"Many sexual harassment cases failed to resonate in China and did not get proper attention," said Helen.

"I was also sad to see the online comments made by some netizens who were irrational and showed disrespect to the victims of sexual assaults," said Helen, referring to the Internet users who unreasonably asked girls to wear more clothes in order to avoid sexual harassment and attack. Helen attributes those peremptory demands to China's persistent gender bias that will take a long time to root out.

A feminist activist

Helen has long been enthusiastic about organizing offline activities advocating the protection of women's rights.

In July 2017, just before she left for the United States for study, she worked with a Chongqing-based public welfare organization to provide gender education to the girls from the local poor families, which normally hold a deep-rooted notion that girls are inferior to boys.

Half a year later, Helen made a public speech in the United States, which dwells on the history of the MeToo campaign.

Earlier this year, the young girl worked as screenwriter and director of a stage play, which is based on the true stories of several university students who are victims of sexual violence. The play was staged at the University of Richmond in the United States.

"After my study in the United States, I want to be a responsible adult who can do something for other people," said Helen, who calls herself a feminist activist.

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