Image from original Chinese article, reading: "The Dragon Spirit assigns you a mission: to exterminate the demon of capitalism The Wind Spirit grants you magical powers to destroy the ancient monster of patriarchy”1
A translation of “Set a modest goal for yourself: study the crotch-kick and aim it at those who harass women on public transit!” (定个小目标，学好撩阴腿，专踢公交狼) by Ma Xiaoling from the Women’s Weekly News column of WeiGongHui (April 2017). Original Chinese below.
We’ve chosen to translate this for several reasons. Ever since the “Feminist Five” were held in criminal detention for 37 days in early 2015, sexual harassment on public transit has become a focal point for feminists and other activists in China. As discussed in Peng X’s article “‘We should all be feminists’? Repression, recuperation and China’s new women-only metro carriages,” last year feminists in Guangdong raised money and designed billboards to increase awareness of this problem, only to have the designs rejected repeatedly by transit authorities. Activists responded by carrying the billboards around with them in an “#iamawalkingbillboard” campaign, for which several have since been visited by police and even evicted from their homes. Meanwhile, the state has tacitly sought to address the widespread concern reflected in such activism by introducing “priority metro carriages for women” in two cities and women-only buses in another—although official media has explained that these are mainly intended for pregnant women and mothers. As one feminist put it sardonically, “their main concern is not for us but for our children, those still in our bellies or those we’ll have in the future.”
Feminists have responded to the carriages in two ways that reflect a broader division between those who advocate increased rule of law and those who focus on promoting direct action as a means toward “building an entire society in accord with the goals of women’s liberation”—as the piece translated below puts it. One of the Feminist Five wrote a critique of the metro carriages for Tootopia, a popular leftist platform oriented toward college students. There she writes that the policy shows that the state indeed cares about women’s rights, but that this concern should instead be focused on improving relevant laws and policing measures, including the increased use of surveillance cameras. In contrast, the article quoted above (published on another leftist platform called Jianjiao, oriented toward migrant women workers) argues that the policy seems at best to express concern not for women but for their children, and at worst to reinforce traditional gender roles while the state uses its other hand to harass feminists in their homes.
The article translated below is another example of this more critical and radical approach to feminism in China today. Not only does it call for direct action as a means toward broader social goals and provide specific suggestions for women’s self-defense (recommending Wing Chun as particularly appropriate for this purpose, for example). It also provides a window into the worldview of many young leftists, citing the young Mao Zedong alongside the present-day YPJ in Rojava. The article is also a good example of the ways that the contemporary Chinese left operates under the hegemony of a latent (albeit broadly defined) Maoism. Within this political climate, terms and anecdotes from the revolutionary era still act as a sort of lingua franca among activists across the political spectrum. In this instance, even the style of the original emulates many features of older socialist-era writings in ways that are difficult to translate. In future writings we hope to address the changing perspectives and concerns of left and right politics in China more systematically, but for now this and other translations published here and on Gongchao.org provide some sense of that universe.
A few days ago, I unexpectedly came across a news article titled: “Young woman riding public transit is surprise-attacked by breast-grabbing selang, posts selfie proving her conservative outfit.”
After being harassed like this, should victims really even need to post selfies proving their modesty?
In fact, this is the same as saying that workers who are being exploited by their boss ought to meticulously record their own hours and experience at work, proving that they’re fully in accord with the demands of capitalist wage-slavery. This would show that they’re actually working like good slaves, but their particular owner is just more detestable than the average slaveholder, and they therefore have no choice but to defend their meager rights.
What a ridiculous joke! Embedded in a social environment that presumes tacit consent, all victims of sexual harassment will automatically blame their own lack of modesty. But even if the victim can prove herself “pure,” there will still be people who come out and say things like: “She’s just doing it for the attention.”
People like this have successfully unearthed a violence concealed inside me that even I never knew about!
And there are so many of these bastards! Just enough for boxing practice!
Surely, the best method for dealing with men who harass women like this is to beat them to the edge of death!
In real life, however, many women lack fighting experience. Moreover, the men who harass them have the advantage when it comes to build and body type. Absent any combat skills, any attempt to meet force with force will leave us at a disadvantage.
But the development of things is always dialectical. Xu Laofeng, one of the screenwriters of the Yip Man movie The Grandmaster, once said that during pre-modern martial arts challenges, boxing masters were actually afraid to see women enter the competition. This was because, having a body-size disadvantage, women would seek methods that would catch their opponents unaware, aiming to kill with every move.
Sisters, if you come across a selang, your fury must be unceasing. But remember: When hitting people don’t aim for the face! This isn’t to let them save face, but instead because striking the face only provides a psychological advantage, without causing much actual harm.
In the image above, as soon as this woman is assaulted, she bravely carries out a counter-attack. But she also commits the most common error made by the average person thrown in a fight: she uses the selang‘s soft hat to angrily slap at him. Not only does this fail to cause any harm, but it also forfeits the opportunity to surprise-attack the harasser, giving him the ability to follow up with a somewhat prepared response.
When confronting such people, the first rule is to be as sudden as a flash of lightning. You should also quickly, ruthlessly and accurately set your mind on these targets: The eyes! The bridge of the nose! The throat! The genitals! When all else fails, even fiercely stomping the big toe will give you the advantage.
For an example, watch the above video from South Korea on how to defend yourself from harassment. It doesn’t matter if you can’t read the subtitles, the essence is simply to take advantage of the moment in which the selang is unprepared, attacking the crotch, striking the nose and throat, and then seizing the opportunity to flee.
Of course, in reality the selang may have ample experience in all kinds of iniquity. He might even have an unexpected advantage when it comes to self-defense. In these situations, aside from directly and immediately attacking the vital targets, we must also have superior technique: causing the attacker to be unable to preserve his center of gravity and guarding our own weak points. Only then can we carry out an effective attack.
Of course, this requires study. In the video below, we can see several Wing Chun techniques for defending against harassers. It appears very simple: you essentially want to control your own center of gravity, be fundamentally sturdy, and ultimately move such that your hips and legs work together to generate force. Only then will you begin to see results.
In light of the fact that today’s selang regularly choose to commit their offences on public transit, we recommend that our sisters consider studying the elegant, fast and nimble art of Wing Chun.
On public transit, space is relatively cramped and selang take advantage of the times when many people are riding to provide cover for their crimes. Within this sort of environment, the advantages of the male body-type are weakened. When a fight actually breaks out, it becomes difficult to throw elbows or swing haymakers, though this is the type of brawling that men often turn to. Wing Chun’s straight-line attacks produce results with much more ease in such cramped quarters.
What use is training the body? The body is the means to revolution!
In defending against sexual harassment, solely advocating that women do physical training is not a realistic solution. At the same time, Chairman Mao once said: “Civilize the mind, but make savage the body!”
In his early years, Chairman Mao would bathe in cold water and travel on foot around Hunan. On the one hand, this gave him first-hand experience and increased his knowledge. On the other, it tested the resilience of his willpower. This would later provide substantial information that justified the party line of “encircling the cities from the countryside,” while also building the confidence that would be necessary for the Red Army to survive the Long March.
Physical training is not at all in contradiction with a women’s liberation movement critical of patriarchy.
Sexual harassment itself is simply one expression of the vastly superior position men occupy relative to women, both socially and individually.
In the public sphere, men’s acts of sexual harassment are more likely to be met with acceptance, even to the extent that much of the world didn’t have a concept of “sexual harassment” as such prior to the 1970s. Before this, women had long been the vassals of men, and men sexually harassing them was simply “no big deal.”
In the private sphere, women had long been discouraged from participating in physical activities. Instead, they had to behave “like girls,” meaning that they had to be gentle, quiet and obedient. In such conditions, it’s obvious that the gap between men and women’s physical skill level would only widen.
Solely advocating that women do physical training while ignoring women’s social rights is of course unacceptable. But, conversely, only focusing on the fight for social rights while ignoring women’s efforts to build their fighting capacity, though probably a “politically correct” concept, will nonetheless prove unable to protect the gains of the struggle.
The video below shows the Rojava Women’s Defense Units in Northern Syria (in Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Jin, abbreviated as YPJ). These women are one of the pillars holding up the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. Of the women’s rights that they have fought for, all have unquestionably been won through practical fighting capacity. And the most common patriarchal enemies that these women have faced are not simply uncouth men on public transit, but fully-armed ISIS terrorists.
While the world faces the great scourge of ISIS, these YPJ fighters express their contempt through jokes and cheerful laughter.
And just like them, in waging our own battles we should demonstrate through strength and force of arms Simone de Beauvoir’s dictum: “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
But in Rojava, the goal of women’s struggles is not to increase women’s rights laws, to get more women figureheads into certain fields, or to elect a female president. No, instead these women hold their own power directly, and they therefore have the opportunity to build an entire society that is actually in accord with the goals of women’s liberation.
Women’s own fighting capacity is extremely important. If we can’t even stop a handful of uncouth selang, how do we expect to smash the patriarchy that has ruled the world for millennia?
 WeiGongHui (originally written 微工汇; after the WeChat account was shut down, it re-opened by changing the last character to 荟) is an independent labor news platform whose name could be translated as “WeChat Union” or “A Little Place Where Workers Gather.” On WeChat, search under official accounts for the ID “wei-gonghui.” Its self-description: “focusing on Chinese workers and promoting Marxism, love for life and love for the struggle” (立足中国工人，传播马克思主义，爱生活，爱战斗).
 Selang (色狼—literally “sex wolf” or “lecherous wolf”) could be translated as “lecher” or “pervert,” but since the term is used repeatedly in the original and its English equivalents often sound archaic or carry different connotations, we’ve decided to just use the Chinese term.
 This is, in the original, a reference to a famous martial arts dictum popularized by Bruce Lee in Return of the Dragon: “腰马合一” (yao ma he yi), with the 马 referring specifically to the horse stance used by many Chinese martial arts. In its general usage here, the phrase simply refers to the idea that any proper fighting stance is a function of coordination between legs and hips, and striking power derives not from one’s arms or muscular strength but from the entire coordinated chain of movement, which begins with the coordination of the stance.
 The reference here is likely to both Mao’s youth in Hunan and his political activities in the 1920s, including early writings on the rural class structure of China, specifically his 1927 Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan. Written after a month of travel in the province, the report gave a rudimentary economic analysis of rural China while also arguing that the peasantry would play a central role within the revolutionary movement.
Original Chinese (minus images)
April 24, 2017
看看在北叙利亚的罗贾瓦女子保卫军(库尔德语:Yekîneyên Parastina Jin,简称YPJ)，她们就是她们所支持的北叙利亚民主联邦的支柱力量之一！她们所争取到的妇女权利，无一不是她们通过实际的斗争力量争取回来的。她们最常面对的男权敌人，不是在公交上的猥琐男，而是全副武装的ISIS恐怖分子。
Note on header image
- This meme imitates the imagery and language of Chinese martial arts (wuxia) fiction both for the sake of humor and to present the topic of defense against sexual harassment as a dramatic part of a larger epic struggle. Part of the text was cut off in the version at the top of this page. The full version (reproduced here) reads: “Exorcist Ma Xiaoling [the author of this article], inheritor of the teachings of the Ma Clan of the Dragon Tribe / The Dragon Spirit assigns you a mission: to exterminate the demon of capitalism / The Wind Spirit grants you magical powers to destroy the ancient monster of patriarchy.” The Dragon Tribe probably refers to the Chinese nation. The Dragon Spirit (or God) and the Wind Spirit (or God) refer to deities from Chinese folklore.