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I am an undergraduate in the National University of Singapore. I would like to seek help in researching in the area of feminism in Asia. More specifically, my question is : Is there such an entity as Asian Feminism? If so, are there any appropriate examples to be found? Thank you- Jo Low

Thanks for your note to Feminist.com--and for visiting us all the way from Singapore. In answer to your question--there is most definitely "Asian Feminism." This means mostly that it is either focused on or coming from Asians--the feminism part remains the same regardless of culture, ethnicity or race. Most of the information I have on "Asian Feminism" focuses mostly on Asian American. For a broader look, I suggest that you reference some of the following:

  1. The Japanese Woman: Traditional Image & Changing Reality by Sumiko Iwao--Harvard University Press 1993.
  2. Engendering China: Women, Culture and the State edited by Christina K. Gilmartin, Gail Hershatter, Lisa Rofel and Tyrene White--Harvard University Press, 1994.
On April 2nd, 1998--the Asia Society of New York City will be hosting a conference on the 50th anniversary of independence for India and Pakistan, including what role feminism has played in the past 50 years.

The Global Fund for Women supports a number of feminist projects around the world. Perhaps you could contact them and ask them specifically about those projects in Asia.

As for Asian Americans, there is a new book-- The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History (edited by Wilma Mankiller, Gwendolyn Mink, Marysa Navarro, Barbara Smith and Gloria Steinem and published by Houghton, Mifflin, Boston, MA, 1998)--which includes several sections specific to Asian Americans. The entry on Asian American Feminism includes the following:

"...Asian American feminists extend their activism from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islans across to the Americas. ...Asian American women challenge practices common in Asia, such as arranged marriages, sex trafficking, female infanticide, and purdah....Outnumbered by men more than twenty to one in the late 1800s, Asian women came to the US most commonly as Japanese picture brides, wedded to husbands they had met only once, if ever....Asian American feminists scored a victory with the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994 by securing protections for battered immigrant women who previously risked deportation for leaving abusive relationships. Asian American feminists have been active in establishing domestic violence services for Asian women, bringing women's issues to the attention of the Asian community and Asian issues to the women's movement. The works of feminist writers such as Maxine Hong Kingston and Janice Mirikitani also have helped to define a new sense of Asian womanhood.....Many Asian women are less than comfortable with a label (feminist) so closely linked to the mainstream women's movement, where issues of race and racism loom. ......Regardless of how they describe themselves, Asian American activists tackle both gender and race issues...International women's coalitions bridge the distance between Asian and Asian American feminists......."

Please reference this guidebook for more information.


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