Daily Skirmishes

Liza Donnelly
2 min readNov 4, 2023

I read yesterday that the leadership in China is again cracking down on women’s rights. The article is titled “China’s male leaders signal to women that their place is in the home.” Apparently, the country is experiencing a drop in population, so they feel women need to stay home and have babies. I wonder also if the government was feeling that the growing population of educated, professional women was a threat to the authoritarian regime. We have the luxury in this country to “skirmish” with the patriarchy. The citizens of China do not.

I was fortunate to be invited to Beijing in 2018 to speak at the Baturu Festival (formerly, China Women’s Film Festival). My powerpoint was screened by the censors before I arrived and the only image they did not allow me to show was this one.

The drawing and the trip coincided with the surge in MeToo accusations in this country. China did not want such a movement to take hold, and the article I read implies that this was and still is a concern for the male leadership. When I spoke to groups of women in China, many of them asked about MeToo; they knew of it, and wanted to understand more.

Currently, I am curating an exhibit for the Baturu Festival on women cartoonists. It will not include this drawing above, of course, but will be a history of women cartoonists, based on my book Very Funny Ladies. Diplomacy through art is a wonderful thing.

I love the word “skirmish,” but not the subject I was drawing about. The little girls in the drawing at the top of this post are in for an awakening as they head into their teen years. The patriarchy is insidious, and skirmishing is how to describe interacting with it. You try to negotiate and navigate your way, but it so often ends up in a little battle, sometimes daily. The definitions of skirmish are “brisk clash,” “an episode of irregular, unpremeditated fighting,” “minor short term fight.”

Often you are unaware you are skirmishing until you find yourself confused and exhausted.

It was pointed out to me by a follower that for many in the world, their interactions with the patriarchy are not just skirmishes, but real battles. This must change.



Liza Donnelly

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, WaPo, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. newsletter:https://lizadonnelly.substack