From audience to host: how robust is storytelling influencing more people changing their roles during they listen to a podcast?

An increasing number of girls create the new podcasts after they encouraged by an influential feminist podcast. What led listeners to resonate and discover a new way to express themselves?

Making podcasts was one of MT’s favourite activities while she lives alone in Spain to study her doctor degree. She and her friend Xiaoyi created the podcast Universal Residents two years ago. She never thought that their recording of conversation could have 10,000 followers and lead the new wave of Chinese feminism podcasts.

“I never imagined that there would be so many girls listening to our podcast and expressing their feelings with us. Even though some audiences create new podcasts, I can’t think of the power of our storytelling through podcasts that are so powerful, ” MT said in her newest podcast episodes.

The podcast content is around feminism. MT and Xiaoyi are not directly telling others what feminism is. They are telling their own stories to let the audience think about how to live their life in the man’s world. Through the dialogues, the two hosts discuss the society and family pressure faced by women. After the discussion, both they and the audience have the inspiration of how to become the heart’s true desire and pursue the life they really want.

“We would think that the feminism podcast host like MT must be very talented or been born into a family with a good educational background. But after hearing the podcast, I realised that there are many normal people like that. They are not very geniuses, not born in a rich family. They are normal like you and me. But they have feminism thinking to support themselves and make their life changes. ”said Emy, created her podcast with her friend Echo by the influence and inspiration from the feminism podcasts such as Universal Resident.

These ordinary women’s stories can give me more power, I feel that there will be a kind of power that I can do it also.


Emy’s new podcast is called “Out of Place”. The content is about female and girl’s career life. Now the program has 5620 followers. Many audiences like the program and after listening they want to communicate their comment. So Emy and Echo created a listeners’ group to let the listeners discuss their feelings with each other much more directly.

“One of the things I appreciate about the Universal Resident’s content is that two hosts are brave enough to integrate feminism into everyday conversations that are relevant to the audience,” said Ruiqi Wang, a journalism postgraduate student from Chinese Northwest Xi’an, one of the Universal Resident audiences.

Some of the Universal Residents’ episodes were canceled because it’s not easy to discuss feminism topics publicly in the podcast in China. The main reason is that feminism is a sensitive topic in the Chinese internet environment. The podcast platform would check the episodes’ content all the time. If the feminism topic is continuing talking, they would delete the episode and ask the host to edit the content and then publish it again.

However, this doesn’t let MT and Xiaoyi give up recording their thinking about feminism. At the same time, they encouraged their audiences many times in their episodes that it’s very worth for girls should speak voice publicly and bravely.

“The sound of one podcast is limited. Like Universal Resident shares a lot of perspectives and experiences from the two hosts, but their cognition and perspective are limited,” said Fishy Zhu, who created the podcast called “Women Chat Room” about communication knowledge, and she wanted to speak her voices after listening to the feminism podcast.

“I’m talking about things that are within the knowledge I learn in my podcast. Maybe these are two hosts of Universal Resident I haven’t known. For example, my podcast’s content is something about communication subject. Some listeners have expertise in law or art. If they create podcasts, they can talk about the knowledge from their major. After this, the voices of girls are more diverse. So, the process to encourage storytelling is very necessary and meaningful,” said Zhu.

“I’m very inspired by the vivid female stories. Like MT, she is full of energy and very vibrant. She went to Spain for studying doctor degree when she was almost 30, living a freer and happier life than before. It’s not a usual thing for Chinese girl when they are going to 30,” Emy said.

The Chinese word sheng nu, which translated to “leftover women,” is frequently used to refer to unmarried women over the age of 27, implying that they are unwanted. If the girls are getting close to 30 and don’t want to get married but still want to go to school and work, their parents and even grandparents would put a lot of pressure on them to get married.

Vera, 30, a Chinese Technology analyst face such situation.

“Actually, I didn’t really intend to find someone in the first place, but my parents want me to get married very early. And that if I don’t get married, I’ll be very lonely for the rest of my life. I personally think that I’m happy being by myself. I have a lot of friends and activities. I’m living a happy life… We’re from different generations so it’s difficult to make her understand,” said she.

Nowadays, a growing percentage of Chinese women are using social media to demonstrate that they may be older, unmarried, and live fantastic lives. A search on Xiaohongshu (Instagram-like platform in China) for “older single women” yields dozens of accounts from women showing exotic holiday photos and fancy handbags, many with video captions emphasising that they are single.

The development reflects shifting ideas in China about what it means to be a successful woman, which does not always entail having a husband.

As the region gets richer, an increasing number of young people in east Asian nations are delaying marriage. However, this transformation has been notably rapid in urban China, according to Wang Feng, a sociology professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Ruiqi is now 24 years old. From her views, young girls live in a traditional family face the marriage and fertility problems which can be very realistic and stressful. If girls don’t get married in China, the first thing they have to face is the incomprehension and blame from their family. If they choose to get married, they will immediately face fertility problems, which is not only the pressure of the original family, but also the in-law family.

“Fertility problems can be a major problem that affects a woman’s overall planning throughout her life, so marriage and childbearing are a major pressure from society and family that young girls cannot avoid,” Ruiqi said.

“Generally, others in the eyes of mainstream society, look at 30-year-old women as older unmarried women. If 30-year-old women have such a strong willingness to study again, they will be very entangled. In the early years, I was actually having the same self-doubted, but now after my female consciousness awakens, I will not care about others’ words, but firmly choose my own thinking,” Emy said.

Before Emy and her podcast partner Echo got into podcasting, or even feminism topic, they would very occasionally see bloggers on the internet who had something like this feminist mindset. They were surprised because they had never seen such people around.

“Because most people agree with the mainstream values, we will have self-doubt: am I the only one who is special, or is this idea too special? Unless I’m wrong. We realised we are not alone until we hear the podcast, that our unconventional ideas are echoed. This podcast relieves inner disbelief, anger, and isolation. After listening to a podcast, we want to speak our voices as well,” she said.

“The audio from the podcast no longer makes me feel out of place,” Emy said.

For Fishy Zhu, one of the best parts of the podcast is recording her thoughts. The other important thing is that she can find someone to talk to about feminism.

“I can be heard by others than I’m confined to my own social circle. I know more people, and I think this is the biggest change for me, and there are fewer people who can communicate these feminism thoughts with me in real life,” said Zhu.

Emy wants to create a podcast program to express her voice which is different from the general social consensus. When she and Echo graduated and entered the workplace, it was painful to failure to integrate many mainstream values, and they neither agreed with them.

The Universal Residents podcast talks about many issues that girls might faces during their self-development, including the conflicts that the influence of female values on women’s lives.

Emy reckons that women’s development is different now. Their values are educated by mainstream society before. When feminism has an impact on her, there’s a conflict with herself. Feminism has an impact on building women’s new lives.

Generation Z Chinese women are more educated than their previous generation. They are more inclined to choose their careers over marriage after receiving a university education, due to Ye Liu of Kings College London’s study.

The census data shows that from 2000 and 2010, college-educated young Chinese between the ages of 25 and 29 are the most likely to be single. Women in developed Chinese cities, in particular, have lower marriage aspirations and wants to live their own life.

“In fact, I think compared to previous years, the female consciousness awakening people are actually increasing. I think this is a good trend, because at least people want to change their behavior, they must first have the cognition. Cognition produces you can affect your behavior, which is very important to live a self-life for girls.” said Emy.

“Women’s consciousness is to let girls return to themselves from a society, or the shackles given to them from others, to discover what they really want, and what can really make them happy,” Emy said.