Will the Real Mulan Please Stand Up?

4 min read

December 11, 2019 (French-Guangzhou RFI)

The Hong Kong Repatriation Campaign that broke out in June caught the attention of the entire world. Photos and videos circulated on the internet showed masked protestors in black bravely defying the police. The fierce combat between the police at PolyU (Polytechnic University) appeared as if they were trained fighters.

A protester waves a “Black Bauhinia” flag as others set up barricades at Lung Wo road outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong before the flag-raising ceremony to mark the 22nd anniversary of handover to China early on July 1, 2019. (Photo by VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP) (Photo credit should read VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty Images)

Who are they and how did they become such professional soldiers?  AFP reported that 19-year-old “King Kris” was one of them. She did not hesitate to confront the police with the protesters for democracy. “This is a struggle for all Hong Kong people, regardless of gender,” she said. Kris comes from a working-class family who doesn’t care about politics. Nevertheless, since June, she has been fighting fearlessly at the forefront of protests.

The arrest of a young protester HK

The six-month journey of this young female college student highlights the role of Hong Kong women in this almost daily protest movement. She used a pseudonym during the interview.

Since June, 5,900 women have been detained by the police, accounting for 25% of the number of detainees, and the proportion of women sent to the hospital for treatment due to injuries has been roughly the same: 28%.

In the fierce confrontation with the police, many of them belonged he the association of “the brave martial arts.” The “brave martial arts association” are demonstrators who stand at the forefront and fight against the police.

Before the outbreak of the campaign, Kris was described as an introverted woman who never dared to speak in class.

She hadn’t joined the pan-democracy team early but kept a distance from the front-line demonstrators for a long time. She used to design leaflets and participate in demonstration organization activities.

She became an activist in August. When Beijing and the Hong Kong government refused to make any concessions to the protesters, at the same time, the police intensified their suppression. One day, as she found herself engulfed in the smoke of tear gas, she witnessed the cruelty of police brutality.

“Suddenly I felt so useless that I couldn’t save anyone, and from then on I started training,” she said.

In mid-November, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, she was one of the over a hundred people who remained on the campus. She and fellow protestors fought against the police’s crazy crackdown in a hard and lengthy fight.

She said that she was motivated to act because she believed in her heart that Beijing is eating away at the freedom enjoyed by Hong Kong people. “The situation in Hong Kong is so bad that if our generation does not stand up and fight, we won’t have a future and room for action.”

Kris went on to say, “There are many social forums used by pan-democrats to discuss women’s participation in demonstrations and whether their actions have helped break stereotypes about women. Many people feel that Kris’s actions have helped to change the stereotyped image of Hong Kong women, those who don’t care about politics, are frivolous and are satisfied with posting photos of themselves tasting food and traveling abroad to Instagram.

However, the discriminatory comments on the forum still exist as usual.

In the animated flyers distributed, the girls were either wide-eyed, in need of protection, or super sexy female soldiers.

Kris told reporters that during the demonstrations she found that there were no limitations. “I don’t have the feeling that girls should or shouldn’t anything.” Kris does not pay attention to social prejudices.

Regarding women’s “weakness” can sometimes be a trump card, Kris said: “I have the opportunity to change my role more flexibly, such as from a front-line demonstrator to an ordinary passer-by. In fact, this way I find out the obstacles set by the police,” she said.

Professor Cai Ping, a professor of sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, studied the participation of Hong Kong women in demonstrations. She said, “The non-existent and decentralized nature of this movement has made women, and all people, competent.” However, she did not think that the demonstrations caused feminism to flourish in a conventional Hong Kong society.

Like many women participating in the protests, Kris was also worried about being sexually assaulted as news spread that Hong Kong police were investigating a report of a young girl who was forced to have an abortion. She had apparently been violently raped ​​in a police station.

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