Yesterday evening, just after International Women’s Day ended in Beijing, the Weibo account of influential online group Feminist Voices 女权之声 was deleted.
The account’s administrators received a message explaining that the account had been suspended “over irregularities,” and that “the account needs to be reactivated to resume its normal function.”
Following it’s Weibo suspension, this morning, Feminists Voices also found its WeChat public account was gone, replaced with a notice saying that after receiving complaints, WeChat decided to remove the account because it “had violated temporary regulations on the development and management of accounts offering public information service on instant messaging programs.”
Before it was unceremoniously removed from Weibo, the Feminist Voice account had more than 180,000 followers. It published nine posts on March 8 in celebration of International Women’s Day, which were viewed for roughly 170,000 times in total, marking a significant spike in traffic.
This is not the first time Feminist Voices has been shuttered on social media, but the previous suspensions were all temporary. In February last year, Weibo suspended their account for 30 days after they posted a translation of a proposed “women’s strike” in the United States on March 8, 2017. It is unknown whether this latest suspension is temporary or permanent.
Leta Hong Fincher, author of Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China and the upcoming book Betraying Big Brother, believes the timing was a deliberate decision: “Chinese authorities waited until the day *after* #InternationalWomensDay to pounce on Feminist Voices, knowing full well that journalists will not be paying close attention anymore,” she tweeted.
In support of Feminist Voices, an online media campaign has sprung up on Weibo. Using the hashtag#我是女权之声本人# (I am feminist voices), Chinese feminist advocates are calling on the authorities to offer a proper explanation for the suspension and to allow Feminist Voices a to return to social media. “You can’t ban the voice of feminists by deleting an account. If you want to support Feminist Voices, please post your personal stories with it on Weibo and add the hashtag. Everyone of us can spread our own feminist voice further and longer, making Feminist Voices everlasting,” one Weibo user wrote.