My life in Beijing is much like driving in a big city, sometimes the roads are clear and you can drive full speed and have total freedom and other time it’s choka-bloc and you barely feel like you’re moving.
I’ve barely been able to breathe, let alone find the time to write a diary entry since I returned from the UK, and that was almost a whole 2 months ago. A day in the life of Jodie Warren starts at 5:45am and ends at 11:00pm with working, eating and going to the gym in between. I’ve been living in a new place for a month now and it’s a miracle if I catch site of them at all.
I love writing about all those strange encounters and hopeless situations I get myself into but there is no time or room for that right now, not when I am floating in ecstasy of something myself and 4 other women achieved. A couple of months ago, (I think I told you (I hope I told you)) Katie and I were fuming with some men in a British group chat on WeChat – they were butchering gender fluidity and equality with total lack of knowledge and were being absolute cunts about it. Katie and I both come from academic backgrounds that revolve around the ideological constructs of gender, politics and feminism and we (amongst other great people) were trying our fucking hardest to educate and make this group of men aware of the different ways you can view gender.
I was desperate to organise something, ANYTHING in the name of feminism and Katie was on the exact same wavelength as me, so we thought “fuck it, lets bloody do it.” So we roped in a couple of our favourite fellow feminists, merged our noggins together over brownies and peanut butter cake for 12 hours and eventually conjured up a plan to host an event concerning the movement #thisisnotconsent. In case you’ve been living under a rock or you’re just ignorant as fuck, the #thisisnotconsent movement rose up against the Irish Rape Case where a 27-year-old rapist was found not guilty of raping a 17 year old woman on the basis that the underwear she wore suggested she wanted sex. A replica of the underwear she wore on the night she was raped was held up in court.
Katie, Spencer, Hannah, Ripley and myself began working our absolute asses off finding venues, organising sponsors, writing speeches and maknig videos. From the moment we began researching until the day before our event I had my eyes glued to a screen that presented a different rape story, it was heavy but totally worth it when the event all came together. We felt that we needed a collective name and Spencer brought forth the suggestion “Beijing Wave”, so here we are.
I was incredibly worried about the turn out because the ticket sales took the slowest incline. I’ve always had this fear of people not showing up to things that I host, maybe it’s because this one time at Uni I had invited loads of people to a party my house were throwing and only 1 of my friends showed up. Granted our friendship blossomed and we became amazing friends, Catherine Henman u da boi. However, the turnout for our first event as Beijing Wave exceeded all of our expectations combined, we had a full house with everyone giving us the best support we could ask for.
It’s so easy to feel like you’re not doing enough when it comes to being a feminist, the whole movement is incredibly broad and it’s difficult to focus on one issue at once. I am a victim of feeling this way. I know that there are ways I can do more like getting involved in events, doing more research post-graduation, reading more feminist literature. BUT being a good feminist doesn’t mean you have to be marching through streets with protest signs every saturday, it can be as little as calling someone out for their sexist behaviour, rape jokes, or objectification of women etc.
This event though was a peak in the feminist journey that I’m still embarking in. The response has made me feel so bloody liberated and has definitely brought my dead and dying “feminist fire” back to life. China has a government that is threatened by the notion of feminism and the powerful uprising it can cause. Back in 2015 there was a group arrest of China’s Feminist 5 for attempting to hand out anti-sexual harassment stickers. China has also censored the hashtag #metoo and dropped the gay scenes from Bohemian Rhapsody. Therefore, it is dodgy territory to be an open feminist activist because you never know who is listening. So, that is another reason why I am so ready to get the fuck out of here, I know I’ll be able to spread my wings further than I have before and get shit done.
One of the most important bits of feedback we received from a couple attendees was on our intersectionality at the event. From the beginning we recognised that we are a group of white women addressing a topic that resonates with women of all races and we in no way felt comfortable with that at all. When we brought this concern to the agenda of a meeting one evening I really began reflecting on my personal feminism and how I need to improve it in order to lift up women in minorities. Many many white feminists start their journey being blinded by literature, stories, issues that only correlate with themselves and lift them up as an equal with white men. I am guilty of this. When I was studying I would struggle to place myself within Black Feminist Literature, because it’s a culture so unknown to me, and often put the book down. Not only was this part of the ignorant problem but the way academia and research is graded, in a degree like Theatre, is vital. For example, my Performance as Research in third year was about my identification and femininity as a woman and during my solo I performed Grown Woman by Beyonce and I was called out for the fact that it was a song about black women and I am not black.
The feedback on intersectionality that we received, however, has drove me to become more aware of how I can be inclusive with my feminism and I’m determined to steer my research away from white feminism.
One women who I value for her feedback goes by the belief that no “ism” is alone, if you stand for feminism you need to know about the racism, ageism and every other “ism” that impact women.