Lorna S. Wei

Assistant Professor, Central University of Finance and Economics

Lorna S. Wei is an assistant professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. She received her PhD in English Linguistics from the National University of Singapore in 2020. Her thesis was titled "A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Ideological Conflicts in We-media Representations of Bride Price in Mainland China". She was an English major in the Department of Foreign Languages at Harbin Engineering University (HEU) from 2009 to 2013 and obtained her BA from HEU in 2013. She joined the Institute of Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Peking University in 2013, obtaining her MA in 2016. Her MA thesis was titled “A Gender Study of Interactional Strategies in Marital Conflict Talk”. Her research interests include language and gender, feminist critical discourse analysis, and media representation of Chinese women.

A woman holds her child outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China, on 1 June 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Why Chinese women are unwilling to give birth

Respect. Lorna Wei says the nub of the issue in the low fertility rate in China lies in that one word. Growing up in a patriarchal society, daughters in China have for years been looked upon as second to sons. When they become wives, mothers and daughters-in-law, they shoulder the bulk of familial duties while trying to keep their jobs. Any fertility policy should first address greater equality between the sexes. Only when parents are assured that their burdens will be shared can they look forward to having more children.
In this photo taken on 5 March 2021, a couple visits the promenade on the Bund along Huangpu River in Shanghai, China. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Women leaders in China: Why people are more interested in their love affairs

Chinese academic Lorna Wei notes that there have been several strong and powerful women throughout China’s history, but their political achievements have often been dwarfed by stories of their love lives. It’s not more women leaders China needs, but better ways of telling their stories, she says.
The curator of the refreshed Wan Qing Yuan gallery showing the decal of the size of a pair of bound feet, a new feature at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Singapore, 12 January 2021. A new interactive element shows just how small the ideal Chinese woman’s feet were at a time when foot-binding reflected a family’s virtue and class. (SPH)

Foot-binding in ancient China: When women fought against their genes to be beautiful

A mischievous saying goes that there are no ugly women, only lazy women. The care one puts into one’s beauty regime determines the beauty standards she can attain. But in the days of ancient China, such effort went to extremes: young girls were forced to have their feet bound. After tremendous pain in pursuit of mignon dainty feet, they attained short yet ironically bulbous “golden lotuses”. Are such unreasonable demands of beauty foisted on women by men, or a shackle that women put on themselves? If it seems unimaginable that foot-binding continued in China for a thousand years, just think of the pain some go through in modern cosmetic surgery.
A Nothing but Thirty poster depicting labels plastered on the three female protagonists. (Internet)

Chinese women in the 21st century: Finding happiness and meaning in life

Nothing but Thirty, a Chinese television series that hit the sweet spot among a largely female audience last year, seeks to dispel stereotypes about women. Rather than having to fulfil all her obligations by 30, a woman is just embarking on her life’s adventure. How freeing, this thought. However, in a society trapped by deep-seated expectations of women as a wife and mother, such dramas provide but a moment’s respite from the perpetual stereotypes of being a woman in China.
TV series Nothing but Thirty (《三十而已》) revolves around the lives of three females living in Shanghai. (Internet)

Portrayal of women in Chinese dramas getting more westernised?

Hit Chinese television series Nothing but Thirty has struck a chord with scores of working women in China, says young academic Lorna Wei. Unlike one-dimensional portrayals of women in previous dramas, this one seeks to give women in China a voice as she copes with trials in work and in love. If this is art imitating life, it seems that Chinese society is becoming more like any other modern, in fact, westernised, society we see today. Only entrenched attitudes about their roles in society can keep women back as they seek a better future for themselves.
A woman wearing a face mask walks in the Central Business District in Beijing on 14 April 2020. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

China's grassroots civil servant and her story battling the Covid-19 pandemic

China's grassroots civil servants have been sandwiched between their demanding supervisors and the people, while braving the elements standing guard outside different communities and organisations throughout winter and spring during the pandemic. Young Chinese academic Lorna Wei tells the story of one of these non-medical frontline workers amid the tough fight as she salutes the numerous nameless heroes among them.
A couple wearing face masks cuddles along a park at the Yangtze river in Wuhan, Hubei, on 12 April 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Death of a Peking University girl: Virginity matters in modern China

Baoli, a student at Peking University, committed suicide because of her boyfriend and died this early April. Young academic Lorna Wei examines the case and bemoans the sad situation of both men and women holding parochial attitudes in China towards a woman’s virginity. In extreme cases, the vulnerable may fall prey to grave self-harm, even death.
Why should we shave the heads of female medical staff? (Weibo)

How women are used as a propaganda tool in the Covid-19 epidemic

A nurse who just had a miscarriage was praised for returning to the medical front line; the word “period” (menstruation) was omitted from broadcast subtitles and in newspaper reports; while nurses sat in tears as their heads were shaved. Closet feminist Lorna Wei can’t help but blow her cover with recent portrayals of women in the media glorifying gender stereotypes. She seconds the view that women need respect, not empty praise. 
Wuhan skyscrapers are wrapped in motivational slogans to rally the people together in the fight against the 2019-nCoV. (Xinhua)

Just back from China, Lorna Wei says "May the force be with us"

Graduate student Lorna Wei returned to her hometown in Hebei province for the Chinese New Year holidays, only to land in the eye of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus storm. She shares her personal experience, from the inside.