IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Tokophobia as feminist resistance? Female netizens’ reproductive experiences and discourses in China

09 May 2024, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm

Woman looking out of the window. Photo by Roy Muz on Unsplash.

Dr Kailing Xie introduces preliminary findings from her analysis of online data exploring young Chinese women's use of cybercommunities to navigate their reproductive choices in the post-one-child policy environment in the People's Republic of China.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Alison Lamont


Room G02
55-59 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

Concerned about the "population crisis" with its dropping birth rate and fast ageing population, the Chinese state has turned to pro-natalist policies that encourage married couples to have more children since 2021, despite the state’s insufficient welfare support for both maternity and childcare. China’s essentialist gender discourse naturalises motherhood and has led to the so-called "widow-style childrearing", with little input from the paternal side.

How do young women in China today react to such reproductive dilemmas, with both fear of missing out and the anxiety of being overwhelmed? How do women gain knowledge, and exchange ideas about their reproductive choices and experiences? In what way can cyberspace communities provide alternative spaces for these somehow stigmatised discussions?

To investigate these issues, this project compiled a dataset that consists of 3153 posts under the topic "What does reproduction mean to women?" from Douban, a popular forum among China’s young female urbanites, from March 2020 to June 2022. As an ongoing project, in this talk, Dr Xie will share preliminary findings from the data analysis and discuss the potential implications of the emergence of such alternative discourse online for China’s gender dynamics and its reproductive future.

This in-person event is part of a seminar series hosted by the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU).

Related links

About the Speaker

Dr Kailing Xie

Dr Kailing Xie's work has focused on exploring the lasting impacts of the One Child Policy on Chinese society, politics, and culture, particularly through an examination of China’s urban middle-class, well-educated women who are seen as the country's socially engineered "high-quality labour" to accelerate its modernisation. Her first monograph, "Embodying Middle-Class Gender Aspirations: Perspectives from China’s Privileged Young Women", was published in 2021. Currently, Dr Xie is working on a book project titled "The Gendered Politics of Sexuality in China: Sex with Chinese Characteristics". Additionally, she serves as a co-editor for the "Gendering Asia: Gendering Asian Society, Politics, and Development" book series with Amsterdam University Press.