A debate has been sparked in China after the country’s education authority vowed to take action against the “feminization” of boys.
A new directive to enhance physical education and psychological direction for young male students was announced last Thursday by the Ministry and Education, almost nine months after the so-called issue was raised by Standing Committee member Si Zefu at the Two Sessions meeting.
“Many Chinese teenage boys nowadays have the characteristics of weakness, low self-esteem and timidity, and they tend to follow the pretty-boy superstars," Si said in May 2020, adding that such a trend would harm the development and even the existence of China. Si blamed the phenomenon on an increase of “pretty boys” in TV and films and the fact that most kindergarten and school teachers are women.
Somewhat encouragingly, however, the Education Ministry’s belated reply has sparked great debate on Chinese social media. As of yesterday, the related hashtag on microblogging site Sina Weibo had garnered 2 billion views and more than 250,000 comments. Some commentators cautioned that the new directive could lead to gender stereotyping, while others said China’s education system should be more accepting of diversity.
China’s media outlets have also been picking up the issue with gusto. “People's 'temperaments' are naturally diversified and there is nothing good or bad about it,” education expert Sun Yunxiao said in an article by CNR. "We should not attach stereotypes to sexes,” he added. "Girls could be tough, and boys could be gentle.”
"The anxiety about lack of 'masculinity' is itself a discrimination due to certain kind of mindset. In subconsciousness, such people consider 'female', 'girly' and 'feminine' are bad and each sex should have a certain kind of look in life," iFeng.com wrote. "Why doesn't the Ministry of Education worry that more physical exercise will make girls too ‘masculine?'"
Other media outlets were more supportive of the directive. "It is a beauty for men to show their toughness in demeanor, spirit, and physique… Education is not only meant to foster 'men' and 'women,' but also duty and responsibility," a CCTV editorial wrote on Sunday.
Speaking to the Global Times, Fujian province primary school teacher Yu Ka admitted that some of the boys she teaches are “weak”, but blamed it on society, not the education system. ”I feel boys are too spoiled by families and the society," Yu said.
The same article also featured Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the National Institute of Education Sciences, who called for a more diversified education system that cultivates independence, courage and perseverance. "Masculinity means having a relatively strong sense of independence, willpower and perseverance, including physical fitness," Chu said. "We should leave it to the nature of the person. We have destroyed the natural state of students and what we need to do now is to correct it and let them return to normal and be more natural.”
Warning：The use of any news and articles published on eChinacities.com without written permission from eChinacities.com constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.
Keywords: China feminization of boys
All comments are subject to moderation by eChinacities.com staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.
Please login to add a comment. Click here to login immediately.