This essay is Li Xiaojiang’s response to Tani Barlow’s “Socialist Modernization and the Market Feminism of Li Xiaojiang” (ch. 6 of Barlow’s The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism). Barlow, in discussing Li Xiaojiang’s work in the 1980s, wholly overlooked the key article “The Progress of Humanity and Women’s Women’s Liberation” (人类进步与妇女解放) published in Marxist Studies (马克思主义研究) in 1983, which Li claims was the first theoretical article on women to appear in a mainstream authoritative journal in mainland China. Li agrees with Barlow’s characterization of one of her two ideological roots as Marxist humanism but says that her other root is not “psychodynamics” but Western feminism—though in her own work she has tried to keep some distance from it and refrains from using the word feminism (in Chinese or English) to describe the 1980s women’s movement in China, preferring the term women’s studies movement. Li rejects Barlow’s characterization of her work in the 1980s as “market feminism” on the grounds that China was not then oriented to a market economy and that Li’s theoretical attention at that time was on socialist revolution and Marxist theory about women’s liberation. Li agrees with her critics’ views that she is an essentialist feminist, for she holds that one is born a female and that the second-sex status is a necessary period in the historical evolution of humanity.

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