In the colonized states, the colonizers used the woman question to justify their dominance, claiming that women in their subject nations were backward and in need of uplifting. Ignoring the demands of women in their own countries, they were sometimes more willing to push for womens reforms abroad. On the other hand, nationalistic movements in colonized and other non-western nations began to link attempts at modernization with an improvement in the status of women. In many instances, liberal nationalists, many of them male, needed the active support of women to help fulfill their dream of an independent, modern state.
During Chinas long revolutionary years the state both promoted and negated new roles for women. The most severe reaction against female activism was the Guomindangs counter revolution, called the White Terror (1927 - 1928), when female activists were accused of being instigators of societal chaos. During Chiang Kai-sheks relentless hunt for Communists, thousand of women were murdered and raped, including those who had simply bobbed their hair. The Communists, for their part, turned away from what they saw as bourgeois feminist reforms to attack the socioeconomic conditions they perceived as the source of all female oppressions. The idea was that once gender difference was erased, women would be freed to help spearhead the new society. Mao Zedong coined the phrase Women Hold Up Half the Sky, and set in motion a campaign to get women out of the home and into the work force. Selections from oral histories collected during the period illustrate his attempts to mobilize the lowest in society, the female peasant, so she could confront feudal fathers, husbands or landlords.
Labor was the big sticking point for Mexico, because labor abuses are among the reasons it’s cheaper to run a factory there. Company-dominated unions tend to sign company-friendly labor contracts that workers never even see; independent organizers often get beaten up or fired; and corrupt arbitration boards have been rubber stamps for the status quo. But Obama’s aides warned Mexican diplomats that they would have to commit to pass domestic reforms respecting collective bargaining, freedom of association and other internationally recognized labor rights if they wanted in on TPP. At the same time, they would have to accept binding new rules on environmental abuses like wildlife trafficking and overfishing. The . position wasn’t motivated solely by a noble desire to protect union organizers and save the earth; America already had strict labor and environmental laws, so any upgrades in TPP would help level the playing field for the United States. It was an opportunity, as Obama later explained, to “fix a lot of what was wrong with NAFTA in the first place.”