People who are born different, in any way, be that deaf, blind, unable to walk, unable to determine their sex, whatever the factor that makes them different, believe that they are normal. And their life is normal for them. But, they want to be seen as normal by everyone else. That is a fact. Most loving people do their best to make them feel accepted, even though they really don’t understand what their are going through. Trouble is there are a LOT of people who are not loving in this world. BUT, forcing the rest of society to turn their back on TRUTH just to accommodate those who are different is wrong. Seriously, should we all be made deaf, blind, paraplegic so that those who are will be normal???
The MAJORITY OF people are not confused about their gender. The MAJORITY OF people do not deny there physical attributes to fit some foolish fantasy brought on by societal conditioning. Males and Females are BORN different. It is not something that they learn. It is in their genes. NOT their brains, as scientists have proven. THEY DON’T THINK they are males and females… THEY KNOW! They are CREATED male and female. Each having unique and valuable qualities, though different. There is a perfect balance in the sexes placed there by an ALL KNOWING GOD!
There is an enemy, who HATES what GOD created. Who has been working hard for thousands of years to destroy the human race. Satan and his followers started perverting ALL SPECIES from the day they set foot on MT Herman.
The swedish schools have had a gender neutral program since 1998. The kids in this next video have been raised “gender neutral” according to their parents, but it appears to me that the parents are pushing their attitudes onto the kids. The two children were both born male.
One thing clearly demonstrated in this next video is how the education system has been using our children in their experiments and working to undermine the family and family values forcing our children into their idea of who they should be. We need to reclaim our children. It is time to dispense with public education and go back to bringing our children up in the way they should go.
I am sorry, but this person pronoun preference thing is just a tool they use to draw attention and make demands. I have seen some of these people rant and rave, throw things and destroy property because some poor kid accidently used a pronoun they did not like. Come on! This is childish and unexceptable. No one needs to be that sensitive. If they are that sensitive they need to stay home. Have you seen the list of Preferred Personal Pronouns that already exist now? Oh my GOD! That is ridiculous. They expect the whole world to not only memorize that whole list, and know how to use it, they have to remember who uses what pronoun on first meeting! GET OUT OF HERE! Can we get back to REALITY??
If they find it so intolerable to be called by the normal pronouns, let them agree on ONE that can be use to apply to anyone who is neither Male nor Female. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that. It should be easy enough to get the majority of people to make that work. BUT, these demands are way out of control.
In this video, they mention “HEY GUYS” as being offensive. I grew up in the Northern States and up where I come from “HEY GUYS” has always been gender inclusive. It covers everybody. I am a female and if some said Hey Guys in a meeting, at a party or a family gathering, I would assume it included me. There is no offense, unless one takes offense. You can make an issue out of anything, if that is what you want to do.
This next video clearly demonstrates the absolutely ridiculous, ludicrous and offensive law BILL C-16 which can be used to fine you and/or put you in jail. It also demonstrates how devastating this can be in the workplace.
I can’t believe that there is ANYONE stupid enough to think that Gender Neutral Bathrooms, bathrooms shared by every kind of gender confused, gender bender and females and males, is a good idea. That is just asking for all kinds of trouble! Public restrooms are already scary enough for most people. NO ONE wants to trapped in a small area with some pervert! That is not implying that all those who are dealing with gender issues are perverts, but a pervert can be ANY GENDER! DO WE REALLY NEED TO ADD TO THE RISK??
I known grown men who were already afraid to use a public restroom before all this nonsense started. GOD HELP US ALL!
September 26, 2019
SEXUAL EQUALITY IN MAO’s CHINA
In the Chinese the Daoist philosophical doctrine of yin-yang (阴-阳) dualism. Essentially, this holds that the universe is composed of two binary forces, each of which simultaneously supports and contradicts its opposite. Consequently, both yin and yang are best understood in contradistinction to each other.
Yang is generally associated with positivity, energy, heat, life, light, strength, activity, and masculinity; whereas yin is associated with negativity, stasis, coldness, death, darkness, weakness, passivity, and femininity. Within this framework, all things in the universe contain both yin and yang, but in different measures. For example, every man contains a little bit of yin, but he is mostly composed of yang—the more yang a man possesses, the manlier he will be.
(U)nderstanding this binary reveals that portrayals of women in propaganda do not in fact liberate women or promote gender equality.18 Feminine yin was still subjected to masculine yang in Maoist China. As such, it is important to understand that the Party’s 16 Howard Chiang, After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), 200-1. 17 Chen Xiaomei, “Growing Up with Posters in the Maoist Era,” in Evans and Donald, 118. 18 Anchee Min, Red Azalea (New York: Random House, 1994). Min’s memoir recalls her story as
a sent-down youth to Red Fire Farm where she engages in a lesbian relationship with Yan, her Party Secretary. She also tells the story of a woman who once disguised herself to look like a man in order to enter a public bathhouse where she would massage the “sun instrument” of strangers (page 229).8 declaration of gender equality simply meant that all genders were not equal to each other, but that all sexes were in fact only equally free to be masculine.
Indeed, if we accept that gender is a socially performed construct, then we also have to accept that a particular society can construct their conceptions of gender to have a reified binary essence and that they will perform those genders according to social expectations. If so, then it is also important for scholars to study the gendered power relationships of that
community as though they were an essentialized binary because that is how they have been constructed. This is the case with Chinese history. In China, xingbie refers to sexual differentiation and reproduction, but in order for Western historians to successfully consider aspects of gender, then, we ought to frame our historical analysis philosophically within the Daoist paradigm of yin and yang.
(T)he CCP’s conception of gender is primarily based in the Daoist philosophical doctrine of yin-yang(阴-阳) dualism. Essentially, this holds that the universe is composed of two binary forces, each of which simultaneously supports and contradicts its opposite.
Simply by denigrating eroticism as “spiritual pollution,” the CCP empowered people’s erotic drives by recasting sex as an act of rebellion.45 Much like the Junior Anti-Sex League of George Orwell’s 1984, the Chinese under Mao were expected to sublimate their sexual instincts into building the socialist state.46 As such, the very act of expressing sexual desire became bourgeois, individualist, and counterrevolutionary.47
Mao and the state became the sole object of adoration in the lives of the population. In the early 1950s, even showing affection for one’s children became a symptom of “divided loyalties,” although the Party relaxed this attitude by the mid1960s, just prior to the onset of the Cultural Revolution.50 Anything that demonstrated a sense of individual will was considered bourgeois, and was therefore immoral at best and criminal at worst. Falling in love from a chance meeting was a sign of depravity.51 After all, love was selfish, selfishness was individualist, and individualism in a communal
society was bourgeois. Every action was political, and nothing—not even one’s personal thoughts and emotions—was private.52 Even suicide was criminalized because it put the individual will over the will of the people.53 What is more, throughout Chinese history, suicide was a “traditional gesture of [political] protest” and was hence construed as a lack
of faith in Mao and the Communist Party.54
The CCP’s portrayals of women in posters are significant for two reasons. First, they illustrate the phrase that “whatever men can do, women can do too,” which was 19 frequently expressed during the Mao era.4 As part of the CCP’s efforts to enforce gender equality, it was effective to show women performing tasks that have been traditionally performed by men (figures 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6). Second, women were widely accepted as the most oppressed victims of the Chinese feudal order.5 Therefore, by depicting “liberated” women performing tasks that had previously been denied to them, such as
engaging in scholarship, mining, or fighting in the army, the Party was able to illustrate its contrast to Old China because it had “modernized” and turned previously suppressed groups into productive members of society.6 Perhaps the most common example of “modern” women performing conventionally “masculine” jobs is the female tractor driver (nü tuolajishou 女拖拉机 手). Before the communist takeover in 1949, society expected women to confine themselves to the private world of the home where they would cook, clean, and weave.
Men, on the other hand, were expected to participate in more public spheres such as farming and combat. Both were assigned different tasks, and both were associated with different technologies: society linked women to the loom and men with the plow.7
5 Mao Zedong, Mao Zhuxi Yulu [Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong] (Beijing: Waiwen Chubanshe, 1966), 228-9. This passage in The Little Red Book was from a report by Mao in March 1927 on the peasant uprisings in Hunan. In it he explains that Chinese men have historically been oppressed by three authorities: political authority, familial authority, and religious authority. In order to liberate men, all three of these factors need to be eliminated. Women are also oppressed by these three authorities, but they also must contend against the fourth authority of the patriarchy.
Images of women driving tractors were vital to the Party’s endeavor to overthrow the old paradigm (figures 1.3 and 1.4). Indeed, the female tractor driver was so important to the
Party’s conception of “modernity” that Liang Jun, one of China’s first female tractor drivers, was depicted on the reverse side of the 1962 one yuan RMB note.8 By obliterating the boundary between “men’s work” and “women’s work,” the Party tried to abolish the hierarchical boundaries that kept women oppressed.
The same tactic which allowed the CCP to showcase their technical and social modernization also gave them the 0pportunity to highlight their efforts to liberate China’s ethnic minorities from their “backward” feudal traditions.9 An article published in the People’s Daily in January 1960 told the story about a Tibetan woman who came to China to learn tractor driving despite the Tibetans’ supposed superstition that women could not work the soil without incurring the wrath of the gods who would wreak havoc on the land by killing yaks, poisoning the harvest, and causing widespread disaster. This woman learned her craft and heroically went home to Tibet to help liberate her people and to represent socialist modernity.10
Source: MAO’S WAR ON WOMEN: THE PERPETUATION OF GENDER HIERARCHIES
THROUGH YIN-YANG COSMOLOGY IN THE CHINESE COMMUNIST
PROPAGANDA OF THE MAO ERA, 1949-1976
The above PDF is full of interesting information on how the communists used propaganda to try and destroy religion, tradition and social norms. It is a good read.
Gender-neutral language, also called gender-inclusive language, is the practice of using words that don’t give an idea of someone being female or male. For example, the word “fireman” gives the idea that a person in that work is male. An offer for a job as a “cleaning lady” gives the idea that only a woman should do the job. The gender-neutral alternatives are to say “fire fighter” and “janitor,” respectively. Then it is easier to see that these jobs can be done by a person of any gender. Gender-neutral language is important in feminism, because changing the way that people talk can help make sexist ideas less common. For example, the sexist idea that some jobs should only be done by people of certain genders.
Gender-neutral language is also important to many people who have non-binary gender identities. For one reason, this kind of talk helps fight against nonbinary erasure, which is the common but wrong and sexist idea that there are only two genders. Since gender-neutral language doesn’t give the idea that a person is male or female, it can also apply to people who identify as other genders, outside of the gender binary. Non-binary people can ask to be talked about in this way.
- tā. Verbally all gendered pronouns sound the same, and so they technically can be gender neutral.
- 先生(xian sheng). A gender neutral term to refer to a teacher, a new acquaintance with whom you are unfamiliar, or anyone with whom you are not on a first-name basis, though it is usually masculine-based.
- 师傅(shi fu). A gender neutral term, though it is usually masculine-based, conveying respect to someone if you don’t know their name, and it means “master.”
- 老师 (lao shi). Standard word for teacher.
- 博士(bo shi). Standard word for professor.
- 老板(lao ban). Standard term for one’s boss (say at work).
- 同学 (tong xue). Standard term for one’s classmates
- 孩子 (hai zi). Standard gender neutral term for child.
- 家长 (jia zhang). Standard gender neutral term for parent.
- 服务员 (fu wu yuan). Standard word for server and/or gender neutral term for waiter/waitress.
- 对象 (dui xiang). Term that means one’s romantic partner. It is gender neutral.
- 配偶 (pei ou). Term that means one’s partner in marriage. It is gender neutral.
Written by Jamie J. Zhao
On 28 April 2017, the first single, ‘Action’ (xingdongpai), of the newly formed Chinese pop group FFC-Acrush (Acrush in short) was released in Beijing. In the music video, five androgynous young people dance and sing like K-pop male idols. Yet, long before the song’s release, the band had already sensationalised Chinese cyberspace for their cross-dressing personas in public appearances and promotion. As the first Chinese ‘boyband’ formed by five young, handsome, masculine Chinese girls between 18 and 24 years old, millions of Chinese female fans have gone fanatic for Acrush members’ androgynous beauty, despite their cross-gender impersonation.
This might seem confusing at first glance. The group refers to itself as a ‘boyband’. Its members’ looks and performances are often marketed as good exemplars of female fans’ ‘husbands’ (laogong). Yet, at times, the members emphasise to the media that they are ‘gender-neutral-style’ (zhongxing feng) girls. Meanwhile, during interviews and interactions with their fans, these female idols also often reject gender pronouns and any explicit discussions about their sexual orientations. This ambiguity surrounding the band’s gender and sexuality has attracted global media attention in the past two months. However, the appearance and wide popularity of this band in Mainland China, as well as its ambiguous queer play with female masculinity and homosociality, should not come as a surprise to Chinese audiences.
In mid-2000s’ Japan, there was a famous ‘boyband’, Fudanjuku, comprised of several cross-dressing females who were otaku (people with great interests in anime, cosplay, games, and similar cultures). In early 2010s’ Taiwan, a similar ‘gender-neutral’ music group, Misster, with five tomboyish girls was formed. Acrush’s K-Pop androgynous style might also have been influenced by the Korean cultural wave that has flooded Mainland China since the late 1990s.
More importantly, the Mainland Chinese entertainment industry had already manufactured a number of well-known tomboyish female idols over the last decade, most of whom rose to stardom after the success of the 2005 Chinese reality singing competition show, Super Girl (Hunan Satellite TV, 2004-2006). In its 2005 season, the unexpected popularity of the show’s tomboyish winner, Li Yuchun (Chris Lee), led to a surge of female celebrities with cross-dressing performances and masculine personas in Super Girl and Mainland showbiz in general.
Nevertheless, despite seemingly serving as a feminist or gender-liberating trend, the Mainland’s commercialisation of this ‘gender-neutral’ style might have quite different sociocultural implications than those of the culture of gender neutrality in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Gender-neutrality is often linked to lesbian visibility and queer female subjectivity in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s mainstream societies, both of which have more openly-out celebrities and better sociocultural atmospheres for gender and sexual minorities. For example, the competition for selecting the group members of Misster was held in a lesbian bar in Taipei in 2009, which already divulges the band’s lesbian undertones. The band leader, Anna Dai, is also a famous tomboy lesbian celebrity in Taiwan. In contrast, none of the tomboyish Super Girl celebrities have ever come out of the closet. Some of them have experienced waves of lesbian rumors online, which either were denied by the celebrities’ agents or greatly damaged their music careers.
The kind of female masculinity epitomised by Acrush often represents either a unique form of fashion or beauty, or a distinctive young woman’s personality in a cosmopolitan China. Gender-neutral female celebrities are often expected to combine desirable masculine and feminine gender traits, yet are not self-identified lesbians or queer women. In fact, whenever this style is closely associated with lesbian sexualities in the off-screen world, celebrities will either downplay or deny this ‘abnormal’ possibility. Although their cross-gender personas often invite fans’ queer readings and fantasies, these queer practices are only limited to playful imaginations and do not necessarily reflect any real-world erotic desires or queer identities of either the fans or the celebrities.
In this sense, the commercialised ‘gender-neutral’ phenomenon in Mainland China might suggest a more worrying mainstream cultural trend for LGBTQ groups. By becoming entertaining elements in sensationalised commercial media, the implied gender and sexual nonnormativities in the Mainland ‘gender-neutral’ style have, to a certain extent, already lost any sociocultural and political significance for gender and sexual minorities. During this queer sensationalism of the Mainland entertainment industry, celebrities can ‘perform’ transgressive gender identities and intimacies without seriously disturbing and menacing heteronormative structures in the real world. In other words, all that is related to queer desires and voices becomes a fictional play on screen to entertain the nation.
What underpins Mainland China’s queer sensationalist commercial culture is actually a distinctive Chinese understanding of female masculinity as a gendered continuum instead of as a signifier for queer sexualities. Jack Halberstam famously noted that female masculinity is more tolerated in women’s adolescence stage as a resistant against adulthood in the Western context. Yet, in both the traditional and modern Mainland Chinese contexts, even when produced by and displayed on adult female bodies, certain kinds of masculinity are not necessarily linked to subjects’ lesbianism, but merely mark an ‘aesthetic form’ or a form of ‘political adherence and moral power’. These cultural specificities of Mainland ‘gender-neutrality’ create a hierarchical, discriminatory queer pop culture that legitimises profitable female masculinities. Groups like Acrush do not explicitly unveil the lesbian identities and desires of celebrities and fans in the off-screen world, thereby aggravating the invisible and intelligible existence and unrecognised daily struggles of Mainland Chinese self-identified female gender and sexual minorities.
Jamie J. Zhaois currently a PhD student in Film and TV Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. She holds another doctoral degree in Gender Studies from Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research spans a wide array of topics on Chinese queer entertainment, celebrity culture, and public culture. Her most recent publication can be found in the volume she co-edited with Maud Lavin and Ling Yang, ‘Boys’ Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (HKUP, 2017)’. This article forms part of the IAPS Dialogue edition entitled “Queer Asia,” a conference held at SOAS University of London between the 16th and 18th June 2017 exploring LGBTQ+ issues in Asia. Image credit: CCWikimedia Commons.
Meet the mums and dads sweeping aside limitations society has placed on children based on their gender, allowing them instead to blossom outside the confines of an outdated category
From left: Christina Kotsamidis-Ventouras, Peter Ventouras and their children, Dimitri and Leonidas.
Christina Kotsamidis-Ventouras didn’t bat an eyelid when her younger son picked out a top with a pink motif from the girls’ section of a store during a recent shopping excursion in Hong Kong. She immediately bought it for him.
An early childhood educator, Kotsamidis-Ventouras takes a gender-neutral approach to raising her sons, Dimitri and Leonidas. They are encouraged to explore and celebrate all aspects of their personalities, not just what is expected by society.
“For my sons, no toys, colours, interests or activities are off-limits. Gender-neutral parenting – or gender-inclusive parenting, which is the term that I tend to use – is not about the avoidance of all things hyper boyish or hyper girlish in order to live a life of neutrality. It’s about destroying the senseless limitations society has placed around our children based on their gender and allowing them to develop and thrive without having to be squeezed into a box or category,” says Kotsamidis-Ventouras, who implemented numerous gender-neutral ideas in her classrooms before taking a career break to care for her children.
According to Sophie Dunstone, a clinical psychologist at Southside Family Health Centre, the best kind of child-raising encourages exploration, imaginative play, positive self-regard and resilience that is not limited by gender.
“Gender is a part of identity. It contributes to a person’s sense of belonging and sense of self. Throughout child and adolescent development there is a continual process of both finding your individual self and how you belong to the group,” Dunstone says. “Difficulties arise when a parent is rigid, authoritarian and unresponsive to a child’s needs.” (In other words, parents should submit to the whims of children. Not “train their child up in the way they should go” as God commands. We know that by nature we are born in rebellion and it is the responsibility of the Parent to teach a child right from wrong. It is WRONG to encourage a child to have ambiguity about their sex. It is WRONG to all your child to CROSS DRESS to GOD that is an ABOMINATION! YOU as a PARENT will be held responsible for leading your child down a path to destruction! Why are we allowing GOD Hating psychologist to decide what is right for OUR CHILDREN? Children are not OURS, they belong to GOD. We have been given a responsibility and a priviledge to raise them, guide them and protect them from the EVIL influences of the WORLD!)
Refusing to acknowledge gender at all is unrealistic, however, and possibly unhelpful in bringing up a child, Dunstone adds.All the same, “If one was to look at the ubiquitous mass marketing of toys to children, gender roles are fairly apparent in packaging and messages to consumers. This is how toy manufacturers maximise making money,” says Timothy Stuart, founder of UnitBricks, a company making construction toys.
Having spent the past 15 years researching how boys and girls play, Stuart reckons young girls traditionally spend more time in dramatic play and areas of socialisation while boys spend more time in construction areas. Much of these patterns derive from peer play, he notes. (NO, it derives from their nature.)“The problem is that gender-specific toys and experiences tend to limit a child to one specific role rather than allowing them to see the world is their playground. Multi-intelligent experiences enable children to see the world through their own lens rather than the one prescribed to them. I firmly believe children should be allowed to be anything they want to be.” (Certainly, children should be allowed to pursue any activity they choose as long as it is not immoral or illegal. But, they cannot choose their sex. It is determined by GOD, unless it is perverted by the enemy. I don’t know what world these psychologists grew up in, but it has always been my experience that boys and girls play together and often share toys. I had a tommy gun at age 3. I grew up with my brothers spearing mice and collecting snakes. We often would write our own plays and make our costumes and act them out. We play snowball fights and cowboys and indians. No one ever told us what we could or could not play. What world are these people imagining in their depraved minds? BOYS don’t like to play dolls, though they will sometimes condescend to play house with their sisters or friends. I often played with racing cars, football and hockey, boxing. But, I was very feminine and still am. Because that is in my GENETIC MAKEUP! However, dressing up in the clothing of the opposite sex is taboo! It is taboo for our protection. Once we begin to do that, it opens doors for spiritual influences we do not understand and cannot control.)
Amy Wong’s eight-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, have always had a variety of toys to share. From a very early age, her son gravitated toward toy cars while her daughter preferred princesses.
Although she feels it’s unnecessary to steer her children from stereotypical interests, Wong takes issue with the powerful influence that society and media have played in recent years in shaping children’s perception of gender boundaries. (“I am the LORD your GOD who sets your boundaries.” That scripture changed my life. It has been magically removed from the Bible. But, I KNOW it still exists… God showed me that I what was wrong in my life is that I did not have boundaries established to protect me. When I asked GOD to set my boundaries… my life changed. This fallen world has turned its back on GOD and now the boundaries are all gone. No one knows who should set them and where they should go. That is what happens when a nation turns its back on GOD!)
Check out my Post: Be Careful Not to Move the Ancient Boundary Stones
In particular, she recalls how her daughter refused to play with a Lego set because it didn’t come in a purple box and was meant for boys. (She can hardly blame that on the Toy Industry, what kind of parenting is she doing? She has no influence on her children? She can’t overcome that bias in her child’s mind? She has no tools to educate her child on her own? Her children are at the mercy of outside influences?)
“I totally blame the media and society for this. Everything around us separates things into gender specific categories,” she says, citing items from toys to toiletries.
Sabrina Cruz, founder of Rainbows at Play HK, a supportive community of parents and children who want to enjoy gender-neutral play, argues that thinking of gender as strictly a two-option category is behind the times.
“This outdated view can be compared to trying to view the world in distinct racial categories without understanding that a growing percentage of the population is beautifully multi-ethnic. The same can be said for gender,” says Cruz, a mother of three, including a five-year-old son who enjoys toys marketed at girls. (You can deny the TRUTH of your sex all you like…it does not change who you are, even if you have surgery to remove the unwanted parts and create new ones… you are still the same person GOD created. The only thing that can change your nature is GOD. If your sexuality has been corrupted by spiritual influences, only GOD can change it!)
Social pressures can make parenting outside the boy/girl dichotomy a challenging task, says primary school teacher Karen Teoh.
She, too, faced a dilemma when her son Micah wanted to dress up as his favourite movie character, Queen Elsa from Frozen, for his fifth birthday party. (One has to wonder what kind of influence she has had on her son. What is her sexual bent?)
Micah likes many activities associated with boys, playing with buses and trains and shooting make-believe enemies with his friends, but he also has interests outside the prescribed gender roles, she says.
So when Micah decided to be Elsa, Teoh worried that other kids would tease him. “I explained to him that teasing was a possibility but that it was his birthday and he could be anything he wanted to be. He was hesitant at first but decided to fulfil his dream of being Queen Elsa,” she recalls. (she should have explained to him that there are reasons why boys do not wear girls clothes. Though Elsa is a hero figure, he does not need to emulate her in his attire. Instead of demanding that the world cow-tow to her sons fantasy inspired desires, she should help her son to learn to live in the REAL WORLD.)
Some of Teoh’s relatives, however, were horrified by her decision, suggesting that this would encourage the boy to be gay.
Dunstone refutes such thinking: “There is a considerable amount of research showing that sexuality is inbuilt and a separate issue to gender identity,” she says. (That young child does not have “Sexuality” at his age. Children do not think in terms of sexuality unless they are exposed to things beyond their ability to comprehend.)
Still, societal pressures can cause children to feel isolated when they don’t conform to gender norms, says Jason Lau, a stay-at-home father of two daughters, age nine and five.
“My eldest daughter is often teased by other girls because she likes to play tag and soccer with boys at school. The girls taunt her because she wants to be a pilot when she’s older. They tell her she’s not pretty and her voice is not ‘girly’,” Lau says.
Parents often organise gender-specific play dates and parties, which means her daughter to be excluded from social events with boys she is friends with.
“She often cries and says she hates herself. Boys and girls are biologically different so I get that divide. But the gender divide is nothing more than soul-destroying ignorance,” says Lau.
Kotsamidis-Ventouras is careful to help her children process the constant bombardment of messages delivered by media and society.
“When my son comes from school and says that the other boys make fun of him for playing with Shopkins [a toy line initially produced for girls] and stuffed animals, we have conversations about this,” she says.
“We engage in discussions which aim to empower, not conform. It’s not about avoiding situations where gender conformity or sexism is present; it’s talking about it when you see it – challenging and questioning things we see in society so that you raise children who are critical thinkers. A phrase that we often use in our home is that there are many different ways to be a boy or a girl.” (Mans wisdom is foolishness, these hyper-intelligent adults think they are smarter than GOD. FOOLS!)
Beijing, China – Zhang Nuannuan kicked with such force from inside her mother’s womb that her relatives were certain she was a boy.
When the doctors announced the birth of a healthy baby girl, her father was so angry he went on a three-day bender.
Under China’s One Child Policy, the family had no choice but to funnel their hopes and financial resources into their only child, but as Zhang grew older and it became apparent that she was intelligent, funny and capable, her father warmed to his daughter.
Eventually, he agreed to fund her university education.
“He started to like me even though I was a girl,” said Zhang, who was born in 1990 and studies film in Beijing. “He said, ‘She’s one of the good ones, not like the rest’.”
The now-defunct policy has been widely criticised for a host of problems including gender-selective and forced abortions, and the creation of a dangerous population imbalance of an estimated 30 million “surplus” men.
Less discussed is the unintended boost it has given to gender equality in China: Zhang and other women born between 1990 and 1992 account for 50 percent of students in higher education, according to data released by the national Bureau of Statistics in 2017. Before the One Child Policy, it was roughly 30 percent.
Much of this can be attributed to a lack of male siblings, according to Jing Jiali, a professor of sociology at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
“Without a male child, the family’s investment is placed on the girl,” she said. “As a result, more female students are able to benefit from tutoring, expensive extracurricular activities, and then upper education.”
Zhang agrees. With a brother, she is convinced she would never have gone to university.
“Without the one-child policy, I would have been screwed,” she said bluntly.
Widening gender gap
That such a draconian policy might have ultimately benefitted some women even as potentially hundreds of thousands of female infants were abandoned to die underlines the complexities of how women have fared in Communist-governed China.
In the years immediately after Mao Zedong established the People’s Republic in 1949, he banned the 1,000-year-old tradition of foot-binding, outlawed arranged marriages and polygamy, launched literacy programmes to benefit women, and invited women into the workforce.
Seventy years later, Chinese women contribute 41 percent of the country’s gross domestic product or GDP (as of 2017), according to a report by accounting firm Deloitte China.
But gender equality remains a distant goal, and conditions are actually worsening. For the fifth year in a row, China has slipped down the rankings of the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index; its gender gap widening even as other countries narrow theirs.
Ranked 57th (of 139 countries) in 2008, China is now 103rd (of 149 countries). In terms of “health and survival”, it ranked last.
In some areas gender discrimination is blatant.
Nearly a fifth of postings for national civil service jobs listed a requirement or preference for male candidates; a trend repeated in advertisements for prestigious positions in other industries too, according to a 2018 Human Rights Watch report.
A study released by online recruiter Boss Zhipin earlier this year reported that Chinese women earned 78.2 cents for every dollar paid to a man, a drop of nearly nine percent from the year before.
When Zhao Yilin, 29, applied for a job at a tech company in Beijing several years ago, one of the interviewing managers asked whether she expected to have children, noting that the job would require travelling.
“I knew I could do the job regardless of whether I planned to have kids, so it didn’t seem fair,” Zhao said. “In the end, I was honest. I said we planned to have children in the next few years.” She didn’t get the job.
According to an official party survey released in 2017, 54 percent of Chinese women report similar experiences in job interviews.
In the same year, online recruiter Zhilian Zhaopin found that instances of “severe” sex discrimination spiked for women when they were between 25 and 35; the years in which women are most likely to start a family.
And it doesn’t get easier as women get older. At 50, the mandated retirement age for women in some industries is 10 years earlier than for men, making it difficult for them to advance, and leaving them with little retirement income.
Nowhere is the gender gap more apparent than in politics. In 70 years, not one woman has ever been appointed to the country’s highest governing body, the Politburo Standing Committee. Among the wider 25-person Politburo, only one woman is included, and of 31 provincial-level governments, not one is led by a woman.
Some scholars have suggested that China’s opening up has itself been detrimental to women – but the reality is that Mao’s reforms failed to address entrenched beliefs about women’s place in society, according to Hui Faye Xiao, associate professor and chair of the East Asian Languages and Cultures programme at the University of Kansas.
“The state-mandated definition of work only means moving women outside the domestic realm, not men retreating inside to do ‘women’s work’,” Xiao told Al Jazeera. “This unequal gendered division of labour was not seriously questioned, which left a certain room for the return of male centrism in post-Mao China.”
In recent years, government relations with women’s rights groups have soured, with high-profile arrests of feminist activists and limits placed on the work of civil society. Online censorship of women’s topics has also increased.
Experts say that deterioration is tied to government efforts to stimulate a baby boom, motivated by growing concern about the economic effect of China’s ageing population and the low birthrate despite the introduction of the Two-Child Policy in 2015.
Rebecca Karl, a history professor at New York University with a focus on China, said that that “economic imperative” first emerged after the global financial crisis of 2008, and the government has since promoted messaging designed to “coerce women to return to the home so as to free up remaining employment for men,” she said.
Earlier this year President Xi Jinping called on women to “shoulder the responsibilities of taking care of the old and young.”
This shift is largely responsible for the drop in China’s gender index, Karl said. “Coming on the heels of a steady decline since the 1980s in women’s economic, social, and political positions – at all levels of the social structure – the post-2008 decline has been particularly precipitous.”
Signs of hope
The shift has been accompanied by a pronounced change in the way state media describe women in the public eye, Beijing Foreign Studies University’s Jing told Al Jazeera; an idealisation of what she calls “middle-class female domesticity” and a growing emphasis on appearance.
In the past the focus would have been a woman’s achievements, Jing said. Today, it’s not uncommon to hear descriptions such as “the beautiful athlete” or “attractive official” when successful women are being discussed.
Nevertheless, activism has produced some change, from China’s first anti-domestic violence law in 2015 to improvements to the gender ratio of public toilets.
China’s own #MeToo hashtag also inspired a number of women to come forward publicly in 2018 with stories of sexual assault on university campuses and elsewhere – leading to the dismissal of several high-profile academics.
Lü Pin, who left her job at a state-funded women’s newspaper in the 1990s to become an activist, sees such wins as reasons for optimism.
“I’m not positive about our government, but women themselves make me hopeful,” she said.
“Women always find ways to resist – especially the new generation. They’re more aware than any generation before them. We just need time.”
In China, they say that there are three genders: male, female, and female PhD. “It’s a joke that means we’re asexual and not feminine enough,” says Deng, a 27-year-old sociology PhD candidate from China’s southern province of Hunan, sitting at a small metal table outside the main library at Hong Kong University.
Deng, who asked only to be identified by her surname, is one of over 100,000 Chinese women who have been branded as the country’s next generation of spinsters. According to their many critics, they are aloof, unattractive, self-important careerists who, according to some Chinese academics and officials, threaten the country’s very social fabric by putting education before family.
Deng defies the stereotype. She is talkative, with a high, soft voice and a short bob that gives her a cherubic look. She is researching conditions at Chinese factories in the hopes of improving life for workers. One of her interviewees, a worker in the manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, was shocked to learn that she was working toward a PhD. “You’re not bad looking even though you’re a PhD,” Deng recalls him saying.
Today, more Chinese women are seeking advanced degrees than ever before. But as their numbers increase so do the criticism and ridicule leveled at them. It’s a worrying reflection, gender experts say, of increasingly conservative Chinese attitudes toward women even as the country’s citizens grow richer and more educated.
Stereotypes about female PhD students are part of broader worries in China over the number of women becoming shengnu, “leftover women”— those who have reached the ripe age of 27 without marrying. “Women are seen primarily as these reproductive entities, having babies for the good of the nation,” Leta Hong Fincher, author of the book Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China, told Quartz.
But the derision towards those with or earning PhDs, who typically don’t finish their degrees until the age of 28 or later, is particularly vitriolic. “There is a media-enforced stigma surrounding women with advanced degrees,” Fincher said, and much of this manifests online in social media.“Female PhDs are the tragedy of China’s leftover women.”
In a recent discussion thread titled, “Are female PhDs really so bad to marry?” on a popular Chinese forum similar to the question-and-answer site Quora, one user posted (link in Chinese), “They are unscrupulous, hypocritical, filthy, and weak.” A user of the Chinese microblog Weibo wrote in September, “Female PhDs are the tragedy of China’s leftover women.” In an online poll on Weibo last January, 30% of over 7,000 voters said they would not marry a woman with a PhD (Chinese).
Aside from being called the “third gender,” female PhD students have also been nicknamed miejue shitai or “nun of no mercy” after a mannish Kung Fu-fighting nun in a popular Chinese martial arts series. They are sometimes referred to as ”UFOs,” an acronym for ”ugly, foolish and old.” At Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou, where Deng does some of her research, male students refer to the dormitory for female PhD students as the “Moon Palace,” the mythical home of a Chinese goddess living in painful solitude on the moon, with only a pet rabbit for company. “It’s like it’s a forbidden place where a lonely group of female PhD students live and no man wants to go,” Deng says.
“Ignorance is a woman’s virtue”
Educated Chinese women weren’t always treated this way. In the early days of the People’s Republic, the Communist party worked hard to overturn old Confucian ideas about women. Mao Zedong famously called on women to “hold up half the sky,” by going to school and taking up jobs.
As a result, high school enrollment for girls reached 40% in 1981 (pdf, p. 381), up from 25% in 1949, while university enrollment rose from 20% to 34% over the same period, according to a 1992 analysis by the East West Center in Hawaii. As many as 90% of women were working in the mid-1980s, according to the same paper.
Ever since China started dismantling its planned economy in the 1980s and 1990s, dissolving many of the state-owned enterprises that employed women, more conservative values have begun to resurface. Now traditional ideas about women are creeping back into Chinese society. “It’s like returning to the idea that ignorance is a woman’s virtue,” says He Yufei, 27, one of Deng’s classmates at Hong Kong University, quoting an old idiom used to encourage women to focus on their roles as mothers or wives.Single women who undertake doctoral degrees are like “products that depreciate in value.”
Chief among these ideas is that no woman should occupy a position higher than that of her husband. According to Louise Edwards, a specialist in gender and culture at Australia’s University of New South Wales, a flood of soap operas, pop music, and movies from South Korea and Japan—historically patriarchal societies that never went through the kind of female liberation that China experienced—further reinforces this idea. “A PhD is the apex. It’s the top degree you can get, and by getting it you are thumbing your nose at the system,” Edwards said.
What is more, these traditional stereotypes happen to be convenient for the government at a time when China is facing a demographic problem. By 2020, Chinese men will outnumber women by at least 24 million, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Some researchers argue that the concept of shengnu, ”leftover women,” was concocted by propaganda officials to pressure women into marrying as early as possible.
“The government is very concerned with all the excess men in the population who are not going to find brides. So it’s pushing educated women into getting married,” Fincher said. “The Chinese government doesn’t say anything about losing potential women from the workforce and that reflects their short-sighted concern with social stability.”
“They are already old, like yellowed pearls”
The PhD is a relatively new degree in China. Post-graduate programs were banned during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. After that, the first PhDs weren’t awarded until 1982. Now, having expanded its higher education system in an attempt to become more globally competitive, China awards more doctorate degrees than any other country. It had 283,810 PhD graduates in 2012, compared to 50,977 in the US that year, according to government statistics.
Chinese women make up half of all undergraduate students and almost half of all master’s students, but they accounted for only 35% of the PhDs awarded in 2012, compared to 46% in the US. Young women outperform their male counterparts so much that some universities have started requiring higher test scores from female applicants.
“Although women are doing well in university, they usually stop at a master’s and there’s a reason for that. It’s partly because of this stereotype,” Edwards said.
It’s not just anonymous bloggers or male university students who deride women in higher education. In January, Chen Riyuan, an academic in Guangzhou and minor politician, said that single women who undertake doctoral degrees are like “products that depreciate in value.” The All-China Women’s Federation, a state-backed women’s group, infamously wrote on its website on International Women’s Day in 2011 that “by the time [women] get their MA or PhD, they are already old, like yellowed pearls.”
Some women, too, have internalized the belief that a PhD will torpedo their chances of settling down. “Many of my friends gave up their PhDs because they think they need to get a boyfriend,” said Meng Ni, a doctoral candidate at York University in the United Kingdom, who is studying the experiences of female PhD students in China.
The thankless road of learning
Women who decide to go for the top degree are choosing a hard path, either for their love of research or teaching, or in the hope of getting a decent job. “The job market is really competitive and many people think that with higher education, the more knowledge that they gain, they will be more competitive,” says Meng, the doctoral candidate at York University.
The hours are long and pay is typically meager—around 1,000 yuan (about $160) a month, plus a little extra for working as a teaching assistant or a residence hall monitor. Huang Yalan, a 25-year-old woman earning a PhD in communications at Tsinghua University in Beijing, lives in a small single dorm on campus and spends most of her day poring over articles on propaganda theory, her thesis topic. She sees her boyfriend only once a month. If she can find a job as a lecturer after she graduates she can expect a starting salary of between 3,000 and 6,000 yuan a month. It may be years, even decades, before she becomes a professor.“They think… that studying and pursuing a higher academic degree is a man’s path.”
“I’ve never felt discriminated against for being a female PhD, but people are curious because they think a woman’s obligation is in the home or that studying and pursuing a higher academic degree is a man’s path,” Huang said.
For others, the prejudice has been more obvious. He, 27, says that she was turned down by a professor at a university in Beijing because he wanted to supervise only male students. And many Chinese academics aren’t interested in supervising female PhDs or hiring them once they graduate. Women held fewer than 25% of academic posts in the country in 2013, according to a Times Higher Education survey.
A 30-year-old graduate who asked only to be called Carrie, and who graduated with a PhD in communications this year from one of China’s top schools, Fudan University in Shanghai, said she was shocked when the first question a recruiter asked was whether she would have a child within a year. “I was so angry, but I had to control it. This is just how it is,” she said.
What’s bad for women PhDs is bad for China
Discouraging women from getting jobs or education hurts any country’s economy, and especially China’s. The country faces a rapidly aging population and a labor force that is expected to start shedding as many as 10 million workers this year. The working-age population, which has been shrinking since 2012, fell by almost 4 million last year. Two neighboring countries with similar demographic problems, Japan and South Korea, have both launched public campaigns to get more women in the workforce. China has initiated no such campaigns.
As a result, China’s female labor-force participation, once among the world’s highest, has been ticking downward. The proportion of urban women in the workforce fell to 60.8% in 2010, compared to 77.4% in 1990, as more women choose to stay home after having a child. On the World Economic Forum’s gender equality rankings, China now ranks 87th out of 142 (pdf) countries, just below El Salvador, Georgia, and Venezuela. The pay gap has also widened: One study found that between 1995 and 2007, women’s earnings, as a proportion of men’s, had fallen from 84% to 74%.
The fact that women are underrepresented in academia may also help explain why they are absent in policy-making circles and ultimately the government, where half of the members of the most powerful decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) have PhDs. The percentage of women of ministerial rank or higher has remained below 10% since 1982 (p. 139). No woman has ever been nominated to the PSC or to lead the party.
But women PhDs are fighting back
For all the prejudices, women PhDs are quickly catching up with their male counterparts. From 2004 to 2012, the number of female PhD graduates increased 19-fold. In
Deuteronomy: 22:5The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God.
3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God.
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.
6None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.
9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10 The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
11 The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father,she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.
13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.
14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.
17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.
19 Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.
20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.
21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God.
Not only does GOD make it very clear what kind of sexual relations are allowed and what kind are not, but he makes it very clear that there should be no ambiguity or confusion about sexuality. He commands that everything be done to keep the delineation between the sexes very clear and evident. He also makes it very clear that EVERYONE, ALL PEOPLES who do not know GOD are inclined to do those things which are abominations in His sight. It is only by being in right standing with GOD that we can be cleansed of this unrighteousness. ALL people, who do not know the LORD are subject to the SIN Nature and at the mercy of the Fallen Ones.