Organized Panel Session
This paper examines the relationship of gender inequality to pragmatic discourse as a means to examine the larger social processes that reinforce patriarchal hegemony and silence female voices within the dominant institutions in a nation. Using the journal Qiyue’s board notes on whether authors should take up arms and join the war and Ding Ling’s editorials in Wenyibao (Literary Gazette), the paper argues that the documents show how female authors Xiao Hong’s and Ding Ling’s position on cultural producers’ obligation to the nation were devalued in the decision-making process. With the additional inclusion of contemporary research on gender inequality and pragmatic discourse the paper demonstrates the power of the speech act to coerce, threaten, and silence feminist voices in the public, institutional discussions of China’s future. The aim of this paper is to situate the presence of the #MeToo movement and the (Chinese) Feminist Five within China’s historical and global trajectory, and to unpack the power of pragmatic discourse to shape and control the language of communication and define subjectivities. By examining how discourse is employed we can see how linguistic practices, both advertently and inadvertently, reinforce institutional power structures and reveal the effects of China’s changing social environment on gender equality and socio-political power.