Sexism, women and the workplace: words of Jack Ma, Alibaba’s executive chairman

Today, after a long hiatus of not blogging I realized once again how important it is to share, argue, and expose daily (and centuries long) injustices. Clap clap….move on…

Jack Ma, or Ma Yun, Alibaba’s executive chairman (the idea for the founding of the multi-million company is credited to him) was asked how can women empower themselves in today’s society, followed by the question, what percentage of women were in his company?

After not answering the question of how many women are in his company, his response was: “women…my employees make others happy…I believe women should empower their husbands, fathers, brothers” before answering a question about his wife.

As if women haven’t been empowering their husbands, fathers and brothers for centuries and more than two millennium. Frankly, his response is likened to Confucius’s teachings about how women should subjugate themselves to their husbands, fathers, and brothers.

I say this is blasphemy.

Jack didn’t even answer either question posed to him; does he expect women to empower everyone except themselves? (because that already occurs in patriarchal societies). Disclaimer: I recognize that there are amazing women that empower themselves and their families including their menfolk; I’m merely addressing the self-sacrifice Jack is implicating in his answer. 

Being a wife, mother, daughter is already self-sacrifice in most traditional Chinese families that expect women to subjugate themselves to their men.

In my opinion, women are the equals of men, and should not subjugate themselves to men, but have an equal say in the family unit (provided there is no unequal power-dynamic which unfortunately, often exists in patriarchal societies).

Rather than empowering the men (that already have more power and leverage than women in patriarchal societies), I think men should create environments that support the empowerment of their daughters, wives and mothers and help empower women. 

After all, without the support of our brothers we women remain divided; it’s important to place sexist men in the context of patriarchal societies which normalizes sexism, but that doesn’t excuse sexist acts, behaviors and treatment.

Lastly, I’ll end with the point that it’s hard to empower yourself in the home, environment and a society that has unequal power-dynamics; it’s important to gather support and allies.

Jack Ma, I hope you’re empowering your wife, your daughter and the women in Alibaba. If you’re not, you should start, it’s not too late. 


About Classyasfemme

"Those of us with the power to speak must speak" -Staceyann Chin College student doing some reflecting and soul-searching. Will occasionally write about the immigrant diaspora, sexuality, religion, social justice, loss, and offer advice. Most of the time it will be scrambling for answers to questions I don't know the answers to. I write as a way to express what otherwise might be forgotten in passing. I write to heal, I write to forgive, and I write for equality. Thanks for reading about bits and bobs of my little life. Keep on smiling. Profile picture is a series of body art photos done by Chinese artist Huang Yan by the way. Feel free to look him up if you're curious. View all posts by Classyasfemme

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