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New goal for gender equality

By Wang Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-14 08:22
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The illustrated book We Are Artists is on display on a corner table in La Otra, a bookstore in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A bookstore in Beijing seeks to engage in deeper discussions about women's issues, Wang Qian reports.

Cui Qichao says that when he opened the women-themed bookstore La Otra in Beijing, he started to better understand what women have actually gone through — their struggles and challenges — in the workplace and society. La otra is Spanish phrase meaning "the other".

"As a feminist man — still a minority in society — I have faced different voices from both males and females, which, I believe, are similar to most women who have tried to defy society's norms," the 32-year-old bookstore owner says.

Some people view his business as something like a gimmick, cashing in on feminism amid the trend in China to strive for gender equality. Some radical feminists, who believe that society prioritizes the male experience, express fury over Cui's male identity.

At first, crying was his way to deal with his emotions. Ultimately, he decided to keep the store open, although he didn't know what experiences — painful or joyful — it would bring him.

Carrying more than 2,000 titles, most of which are by female authors, the bookstore, which is smaller than 40 square meters, has been established as a learning hub and community for people interested in woman studies. You can even find the out-of-print book series by Li Xiaojiang, who is often credited as the founder of women's studies in contemporary China.

At the entrance of the bookstore is a poster of a working woman, and the windows feature the inspirational quote, "Women can do anything." A blackboard by the door reads: "Menstruation products, hot water and pain relievers are offered for free at the bookstore."

Inside the store, there is a wall presenting a selection of images of remarkable women who have defied gender expectations and made extraordinary contributions.

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