Feminist Legal Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 365–373 | Cite as

Restricted to Half the Sky: Unwanted Girls, Battered Wives and Inglorious Women

  • Weiwei CaoEmail author


The proverb ‘women hold up half the sky’ was created by the Maoist government 64 years ago in order to show that women in ‘New China’ have equal power and rights to their male peers. I selected three photographs for my FLaK zine and called them ‘unwanted girls’, ‘battered wives’ and ‘inglorious women’. To examine the relevance of the proverb in Modern China, I will discuss three women-related problems behind these photographs and analyse their cultural and legal causes. By doing so, I aim to achieve two purposes—first, to help the reader have a better understanding of the problems of women in the region where one-fifth of the global population lives, and second, to argue that seemingly gender neutral law and policy can produce new and greater restrictions on women’s freedom.


Domestic violence Gender equality Son preference The half sky Reproductive burden 



Many thanks are owed to Marie Fox, Julie McCandless, and Ruth Fletcher who invited me to the FLaK seminar, Harriet Samuels and Nikki Godden-Rasul for their helpful comments on the zine and earlier drafts of this paper. This study was funded by China’s Ministry of Education Project in Humanities and Social Sciences (project no.13YJC820002), China’s Ministry of Justice Research Project in Rule of Law and Legal Theory (project no. 16SFB3015), the Philosophy and Social Science Planning Funding Project of Hunan Province (project no. 14YBA104). The Collaborative Innovation Centre of Developing Rule of Law in Hunan and Regional Social Governance and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities also supported this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law SchoolHunan UniversityChangshaChina

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