The Voice We Need to Hear-An Opinion Analysis of Recent Gender-Based Violence in China

By Lisa Meng

Kris Wu attending a certain social event

On August 1st, Canadian pop singer Kris Wu was detained by the police in Beijing on the accusation of raping an underage girl. On August 16th, he was officially arrested. This July was full of topics of Wu’s incident; Chinese college girl Du Meizhu posted details about how Wu and his agent promised her a career in the Chinese entertainment industry, tricked her to drink alcohol at his party, and paid her a large amount of compensation after she was raped and Wu had moved on to the next target. She also pointed out that Wu has enticed young girls like her. For the most part, these girls were not aware of his true intention at first and sinking into the dream of dating a superstar. However, Wu never stopped looking for the next victim. As one of the most famous pop celebrities in China, Wu certainly denied Du’s accusation. He and his publicist attempted to silence the media and expected to vanish the rumors by posting clarification. Further, they even tried to polish the accusation into slander by this girl to gain her popularity in social media.

In a society where money and celebrity obsession are controversial, it seems impossible for a young woman to actually compete with such a celebrity and win. Certainly, she received multiple hate comments, which many were from Wu’s large range of fans and others who simply doubted her intention when she exposed the incident. However, less than a month after Du’s post, the police in Beijing were involved to investigate, and Wu was detained and then arrested.

When I was browsing the report about this incident from CNN, I noticed that their focus on this whole happening is interesting. CNN emphasized that “sexual assault survivors have long faced strong stigma and resistance in China, at the official level as well as among the public” (Yeung and Gan). This opinion then led to a new direction, indicating that some “activists” noted that Chinese authorities were avoiding sexual assault topics and tending to “report on individual cases and cast blame elsewhere” (Yeung and Gan). For Wu’s case, CNN’s report reveals the immoral control of capital and the overwhelming attention on the Chinese entertainment industry instead of severe gender-based violence. A more implicit but strong attitude is to comment and even criticize Chinese authorities’ ignorance of the “central focus” of this crime, which is sexual assault.

This incident is undoubtedly explicit gender-based violence that deserves the attention of the whole society. What Wu has done in the realm of crime is rape, and it has a close relationship to the issue of gender discrimination and offense. An article from the New York Times illustrates that Wu “has gone from being one of China’s biggest stars, with several lucrative endorsements and legions of young female fans, to perhaps the most prominent figure in the country to be detained over #MeToo allegations” (Qin and Chen). It is the responsibility of the public and authorities to take such issues seriously. Similar tragedy could emerge in not only the entertainment industry but also any place with differences of gender, class, power, and property. If the related governmental departments and organizations promoting gender respect and equality do not complete their jobs well, they will constantly witness the harm of gender-related dilemmas.

However, no incident has only one “central focus.” If the media has sufficient research and comprehension about news and stories of the Chinese entertainment industry for the past several months, they could know that Du’s misfortune is not only a matter of gender-based violence but also the problematic celebrity obsession, the unreasonable capitalization in the Chinese entertainment industry, and many more issues. They could also know that for the past years, celebrities who ruined their public image were largely discussed and criticized by Chinese citizens. Further, the obsession of celebrities and fans’ excessive defense of their idols were deeply deliberated. It is necessary for them to know that the “detention of Mr. Wu comes amid a broader government crackdown on the entertainment industry” (Qin and Chen). In this sense, as we emphasize the rights and benefits hidden by gender discrimination, we should also understand the incident from more rounded perspectives.

The “Me Too” allegations in China were encouraged after Wu’s exposure. With the variety of social media platforms, people shared their stories of encountering gender discrimination, and more importantly, growing numbers of people knew these stories and took action to spread and support the victims. Nevertheless, some power and efforts of individuals and on the micro-level of sharing stories and making comments are not enough to change the situation. Government and influential organizations must not neglect the severe crisis and must play their role in bringing justice to victims and society. In Wu’s case, the authorities effectively worked to investigate actual happenings and arrest the criminal no matter who the person was. Even People’s Daily, one of the most authoritative Chinese media, indicated that “a celebrity with foreign nationality cannot be saved as committing a crime in China, and the celebrity’s fame cannot be the immunity of charges” (People’s Daily). Applying these actions and many more, authorities need to take the matter seriously and continue to protect their citizens from hurt.

The stories that raise the public’s awareness of gender-based issues can only be read from victims’ posts on social media. Like I have mentioned, more and more people now have the courage to speak out. Nevertheless, the voice is not loud, and the number of people is not large. If there is a lack of these voices in the public, we cannot offer support and care, nor can we prepare the defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from tragedies. We hope to hear these voices. On the other hand, we do not. We want to hear because they are truly helpful for the government and organizations to take care of the issue and serve social justice. At the same time, they have a more significant mission, which is to educate their citizens on the positive and upright thoughts and actions about properly facing the matter of gender inequality and to promote legal support for victims. In this sense, the number of tragedies will be efficiently decreased, and we objectively will not hear many voices of exposure.

I admit that this is an ideal solution, because many people reaching a certain class or power will place themselves outside the management of law, and there are still not many helpful solutions to deal with this circumstance. Hypocritically, some people who originally hold justice and seek truth cannot refuse the lure of wealth and fame, and eventually, make terrible mistakes past the red line of law. However, just like the opinion of Global Times when it was commenting on Wu’s case, “One of the fundamental features of the power structure of this society is that the ultimate legal rights of everyone are becoming more and more equal. Once the confrontation occurs, who broke the law is the party that will lose, no matter how many resources that one previously owned, how much halo on one’s head” (Global Times). This incident was started by a brave voice and then many voices responded to it. At this time, what we need the most is the actual voices of integrity and justice. No matter from what consideration, goal, or opinion, these voices should be heard. A single move of sharing, spreading, and commenting may be trivial, but this move is the most direct representation that our society is broadcasting the needed voices. Once the voices are accumulated, the hope of achieving qualities of integrity and justice will be actualized.

Lisa Meng is a sophomore at Davidson College whose intended major is Communication Studies. She is an international student from Shandong, China.