HONG KONG — It was a thrashing to behold.
A government worker in northeastern China who complained of harassing text messages from her boss was captured on video beating him with the business end of a mop, spurring debate about the persistence of workplace harassment and turning her into an internet sensation.
In the 14-minute video, the woman, later identified by her last name, Zhou, can be seen throwing books at the face of her boss, identified as Wang, and dousing him with water, in addition to hitting him with the mop. He is seen hiding his face behind his fingers, attempting to apologize and saying that he had been joking when he sent the messages.
It is unclear exactly when the incident took place, but local news outlets said the woman filed a police report last week accusing her boss of harassment, and the video began circulating widely online this week. It has been viewed millions of times, with many social media users relishing what they saw as an uncommon display of resistance against an authority figure in a country with limited workplace protections against sexual harassment. Many users sided with the woman, lauding her for flipping the balance of power and calling her a defender of justice and a martial arts warrior.
Lu Pin, a prominent Chinese feminist activist, said that many people viewed the video as an outlet for pent-up anger over the general absence of accountability for harassers and of available recourse from courts or the police. Many victims of harassment feel powerless to report it and worry that they will be disbelieved or retaliated against if they do.
become the targets of lawsuits themselves. In 2019, after a woman in the Chinese city of Chengdu filed a police report saying she had been harassed by a colleague, the colleague sued. Though the lawsuit was largely dismissed, the woman was ordered to make a court-reviewed apology in a work chat group where she had discussed the harassment, so as to undo the “adverse effects” to her colleague.