Long Blog 4- Misogyny is deep-rooted in Traditional Chinese Cultures

In January, China’s Education Ministry published plans to “cultivate masculinity” in boys from kindergarten through high school (NBC NEWS, 2021). And the original title on the government document is “关于防止男性青少年女性化的提案”, which means “suggestions about preventing boys from feminization”. The document raised discussion about gender stereotypes and gender roles, however, most people supports the Education Ministry on this matter.

From the experiences of growing up in China, I have heard too many cliches about “how boys and girls are different”, such as “girls are only good at elementary and middle school, boys will exceeding girls in high school” , “no matter what women achieve in school or in work place, family duty are their no.1 responsibility” and “women who have PHD can’t find the other half”…The twisted social standards toward woman are suffocating, as they are all promoting an idea “men and women are totally different, and men (should) precede women”, therefore feminization is considered as a shame for a boy.

Women are objectified and being considered as the tools for producing offsprings in traditional Chinese values

For many traditional Chinese families, having descendants is considered as their most important task of life. However, only boys are considered as descendants of the family, and girls are like “嫁出去的女儿,泼出去的水” means “daughter who got married is equivalent to water that has been splashed and thus it cannot be retrieved” (it is a famous precept that every Chinese know).

In November 30, 2020, a father from Hebei province threw his four months old daughter from a fifth floor’s window, the passing delivery man saw her and saved her life but she was still severely injured. The neighbour said it was the second time he did it. The reporter interviewed the father and he seemed to feel no guilt about it and even said “It is totally different to have a daughter and a son. I have no feeling for the daughter, but if I could have a son I would be very happy, and I’ll be proud when I talk to others because I have descendants.”(Sohu news, 2020)

The delivery man saved the baby from death (Sina News)

Most people don’t kill their babies as it is a criminal act. However, some family bribed the doctors to know the gender of the fetus before the mother give birth. Many of the abortions are done because the answer is “she”. My elementary school and middle school’s classes have more boys than girls and it is scary to think about because the statistic shows 117 boys were born to every 100 girls in China as in 2001 (Hesketh et al. 2005).

The deep-rooted misogyny also caused the society to marginalize women in workplace. As a result, a lot of Chinese women are being suppressed in workplace. When a woman and a man shows equivalent talent during the interview, the company will have much bigger chance to hire the man as they believe women will devote less energy and time in work because they have to give birth to children and have to take care of their families(QM Jianli News, 2020).

Yang Liping (born in 1958) is a famous Chinese dancer and choreographer who did not have children. Last year summer, she received a comment under her video stated, “The biggest failure for a woman is that she didn't give birth. So called ‘be yourself’ is only lying to yourself, even you can be 30 years younger, your beauty will eventually get destroyed by time when you turn to 100 years old. And you will not be happy when you are 90 years old because you have no children.” I don’t really understand the logic here, but I know it was the cliche to objectify woman as the commenter values woman on their external appearances and fertilities. And it was the top comment that got 8405 likes.

The top comment (Zhongxin news, 2020)

Judith Butler stated that gender behaviour are not nature but are being learned and performed.

I heard too much about Chinese seniors educate young people that “the rules” to keep a balanced society, which is man should have more masculinity and woman should have more femininity. But what is masculinity and femininity? In common sense, to have masculinity is to be initiative, brave and pride, while to have femininity is to be gentle, considerate and modest. As Simone de Beauvoir stated in her book “the Second Sex”, the attributes of masculinity are actually the same traits that are needed to achieve high status in the societies, such as people need to be initiative, brave and pride to become a successful businessman and politician, no matter which gender they are. However, the femininity traits such as gentle and considerate are more for the supportive roles, which is because females are always the “second sex” and has being marginalized and objectified in histories to now.

RuPaul “we all born naked and the rest is drag”. We have the freedom to choose what we want to perform.

The gender rules/roles not only restrict girls but they restrict boys too. A lot of parents don’t allow their sons to cry when they feel sad and don’t hug them as much as they do to girls. Recently I read a book called “A Little Life” (written by Hanya Yanagihara), it talked about a story of a boy experiencing everlasting PTSD from childhood traumas that influences his whole life. The book is 720 pages in length, and the author joked in the interview that “if the protagonist is a girl, the book will be reduced to 1/3 in length.” It is because man are not supposed to show or even share their weaknesses and wounds in most cultures, which makes them to have harder time when face traumas.

The news written by Wang, Chen and Radnofsky stated that boys can be bullied at school if they show “feminized traits”. A 11 years old boy Yunhao are being called “too girly” by his classmates because of his high-pitched voice and his “weird screaming”, and nobody wanted him to join their groups during annul class trip. “I wanted to run away, right out of the classroom” Yunhao said about his experience in primary school, right now he is 13 years old. The bullying eventually stopped for Yunhao. However, the “masculinity rules” that suggested by the Education Ministry could worsen the situation. “The concept of masculinity forces every man to be tough, which excludes and harms men with other types of characteristics. It also reinforces men’s hegemony, control and position over women, which goes against gender equality.” said Lü Pin, the founder of China’s largest feminist advocacy media channel, Feminist Voices, which was banned by Chinese censors in 2018.(NBC News, 2021)

I want to end this article with the words from Yang Liping, the dancer I mentioned above. It was her reply towards the hateful comment, “As long as I’m feeling alright and I don’t harm anyone, then that’s okay. Thank you all for your understanding and love. I hope you can live freely just like me.”(Sina, 2020)

Scholar Journal

Hesketh, Therese . Lu, Li. Xing, Zhu Wei, Sept 2005, The Effect of China’s One-Child Family Policy After 25 Years, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 353, Iss. 11.