Education authorities ruffled feathers Thursday by endorsing the idea that the country is suffering from a “masculinity crisis.”
China’s education ministry on Thursday responded to a top political adviser’s call for more physical education as an antidote to the supposed “feminization” of young men, rekindling a fierce online debate about masculinity and traditional gender norms.
The ministry said it would recruit better gym class instructors and improve their teaching methods by introducing incentives such as free college education. The goal of this would be to cultivate masculinity in young men by balancing physical strength and mental health.
The response came after a delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top political advisory body, had suggested that Chinese schoolboys are “weak, self-effacing, and timid,” and may be unduly influenced by so-called little fresh meats — handsome, well-groomed, delicate-featured celebrities in the vein of K-pop stars. The proposal also described the feminization of Chinese boys as “a threat to the development and survival of our nation.”
The ministry’s endorsement of the delegate’s proposal prompted immediate backlash on microblogging platform Weibo, with some netizens saying they felt appalled that the country’s top education authorities were being “openly sexist.” As of Friday afternoon, a related hashtag had been viewed more than 240 million times.
“Education is about nurturing children to become decent human beings,” wrote one Weibo user. “It shouldn’t be about setting gender standards for men and women. Learning to be a good person should come first.”
Among a minority of netizens, however, are those who agree that Chinese boys should be manlier and more athletic. “Finally, the education ministry does something right,” wrote a Weibo user who claimed to be a teacher. “Boys now are in dire need of more exercise so they can be manlier. They’re too gentle these days.” Continue to read the full article here
– This article was written by Du Xinyu and Chen Qi’an. It originally appeared on Sixth Tone.