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China Sex & Gender

China’s 2018 New Marriage Law? Online Discussions on ‘Three Child Policy’ and Lowering of Marriage Age

Alleged changes to China’s marriage law have set rumors going on Chinese social media about a ‘three-child policy.’

Manya Koetse

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Image is part of larger poster, see: https://chineseposters.net/themes/marriage-law.php

Alleged changes to China’s marriage law have ignited discussions on Chinese social media about a ‘three-child policy’ and a lowering of legal marriage age to 18. Although “it’s all just rumors”, many netizens already raise their voices against such potential changes, saying it would pressure and burden Chinese women even more.

China’s ‘New Marriage Law’ (新婚姻法) has become a topic of discussion on Chinese social media over the past few days, where many netizens have started talking about an alleged “Three Child Policy” and a lowering of China’s legal marriage age to 18.

The New Marriage Law was passed in 1950 as one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Mutual consent to marry and a heightened legal age to marry to 18 (for women) and 20 (for men) were among the important points stipulated in this legislation.

In the Marriage Law of 1980, this was again raised to 22 for men and 20 for women to promote population control.

Throughout the years, there have been various legal changes in the Marriage Law or in its interpretation, to deal with emerging marriage and family issues in a rapidly changing Chinese society.

Three Child Policy?

Over the past few days, various Chinese bloggers (e.g. here, here, here) suggest that Chinese authorities are putting forward a 2018 renewed Marriage Law, which includes the alleged proposal of a loosening of the two-child policy towards a ‘three-child policy’ (“放开三胎政策”).

These bloggers and many netizens denounce such a potential measure in saying that an extension from the Two-Child Policy to a ‘Three Child Policy’ would add to the burden of Chinese women.

Such a policy, they argue, might lead to Chinese women facing social expectations to birth a third child. And with supposed longer maternity leaves, they would also face unequal opportunities in the employment market.

When the ‘Two-Child Policy’ was officially announced in 2015 as the new national standard (全面二孩), allowing all Chinese couples to have two children instead of the one-child rule that was the norm since 1979, there were also concerns about the economic and gendered pressures of having a second child.

The end of the One Child Policy relates to the growing societal burdens of China’s aging crisis; many demographers proposed a further liberalization of the Chinese family planning system before.

But according to a Chinese Law site (66law.cn), news about an alleged ‘Three-Child policy’ is all just rumors: “Recently, online rumors about the three-child policy to be implemented in 2018 have grown. We live in a populous country, and if this three-child policy would be implemented, it would only add to the pressure [of this big population],” they write, adding that there is “no truth” to the reports.

The rumors find their root in the parliamentary sessions of March, when, as SupChina notes, a proposal drafted by a deputy named Zhu Lieyu (朱列玉) to the National People’s Congress made headlines for suggesting that a three-child policy might be adopted nationwide.

Zhu Lieyu (朱列玉): proposing a ‘three child policy’

“If China’s birth rate doesn’t see a rise after a three-child policy, we should consider ending any sort of family-planning policy,” the deputy reportedly told Chinese reporters.

Marriage Age to 18

The idea to lower China’s marriage age from the age of 22 for men and 20 for women to 18 years old is something that has already been proposed since last year.

In 2017, National People’s Congress deputy Huang Xihua (黄细花) called for lowering China’s legal marriage age. At the time, many people on Weibo were not happy about the proposal – with some finding it outright shocking.

Huang Xihua (黄细花) is an advocate of lowering China’s marriage age.

Netizens then expressed that they were afraid that such a measure will negatively affect the status of women in Chinese society and increase the nation’s divorce rates. “Won’t this lead to a drop in the percentage of women with a higher education?”, some wondered.

The potential lowering of the legal marriage age, a big trending topic in 2017, is still a source of concern for Chinese netizens now. “This is just a way to make us have more babies!” some say.

“We can’t draft a law based on gossip.”

Despite all talks on social media and blogs, China’s official state media have not released news about any new changes to the legislation yet. “Where is this official launch of the New Marriage Law?”, one female netizen (@澄明居-許振雲) wonders: “We can’t draft a law based on gossip!”

“WeChat accounts are one by one publishing about the New Marriage Law,” another commenter writes: “But there’s nothing here yet – it’s just WeChat users making up their own laws.”

“I actually still hope that we can be open to having three children [in the future],” one female netizen responds: “It will be nice for those who are capable of doing so, and people who like have more children. It’ll also ease the worries on the collapse of the social insurance [system] of those of us who are not having children. Those who want to can have children, and those who do not want to, do not need to. Then we’ll find the middle way in a developing nation.”

Others say such a measure would only add to the pressure of women in China today: “We have 30 million leftover men,” another commenter writes: “The more women’s lives are pressured and the more the value of women’s contribution to family life is neglected, the more females will be afraid to get married.”

By Manya Koetse, with contribution from Diandian Guo.

Featured image is part of a larger poster that can be viewed on the website https://chineseposters.net/themes/marriage-law.php.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Sex & Gender

Guangzhou Metro Security Guard Posts X-ray Images of Passengers’ Adult Toys

Chinese netizens are annoyed by a Guangzhou Metro security guard posting the X-ray images of the private contents of passenger bags.

Bobby Fung

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Gender issues, privacy awareness, and complaints by commuters about time-consuming regular security checks at Chinese subway stations – on May 7, these widely-discussed issues in today’s China all came together in a Weibo post that soon went viral.

A screenshot posted to a group chat by a security guard nicknamed ‘Crush’ showed X-ray images of bags and suitcases of commuters, in which adult toys can be discerned.

“There are many beautiful girls in Guangzhou,” the security guard said: “..but the problem is that they are not serious.” He added: “My purity is tarnished as I see more and more adult toys.”

These remarks, circulating around social media, prompted privacy concerns. As Weibo blogger @三千院雨Official wrote: “Why can you play with your smartphone while you’re at work? How can these kinds of bad-mannered individuals be qualified as security guards? What gives you the right to take photos of passengers’ personal belongings, spread them to other platforms, and make personal comments?”

The Weibo post regarding the X-ray images has received over 280.000 likes and more than 21.000 reposts so far. The blogger stated that the incident has now been reported to the authorities.

Many netizens voice their concerns over privacy rights violations under the post: “Every citizen hands over their privacy to the security guard out of trust. If the security guard not only fails to work for the people, but even violates their privacy, then public trust will be lost in the long run.”

Some commenters are more emotional: “Is there something wrong with this guy? This is equivalent to disclosing personal information!”

The post thread has seemingly also become a battleground for gender issues. Recently, the feminist movement in China has been pressing for the destigmatization of sexual desire and adult toys. The remarks of the security guard that link adult toys to ‘impurity’ became a target of criticism. “Sexual fetishes that don’t harm anyone are not wrong,” one comment said, receiving over 2000 likes.

Discussions on sexism and gender discrimination, which have seen a rise on Chinese social media recently, also flared up again over this incident.

The last time these kinds of discussions flooded Weibo was in March, when Intel severed ties with its ambassador Yang Li, a female stand-up comedian. Yang Li is controversial for her jokes mocking men (“men are adorable, but mysterious. After all, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence”), with some blaming her for being “sexist” and “promoting hatred against all men.” Many women rallied behind Yang Li, promoting a more inclusive and safe environment for females.

Under the post on the Guangzhou metro incident, a comment that received two thousand likes said: “This is why girls feel disgusted with men. They want to interfere with everything, not just limited to their own duty.” Some commenters, however, question how the security guard’s gender can be determined simply based on the screenshot, and whether this in itself is a gender bias.

According to the Counterterrorism Law of China, which went into effect in 2016, the subways are required to do security checks on passengers entering the stations. Guangzhou Metro has rolled out comprehensive security checks since late 2017. The policy was met with opposition from residents, especially from commuters who believed these security checks were useless and time-wasting. Also, since railway companies typically outsource security tasks to external firms, the lack of professionalism on the part of security guards and the lack of accountability became a source of discontent ever since.

The ongoing dissatisfaction towards these mandatory checks might have heightened current discussions on the Guangzhou security guard, leading some people to question the efficiency of the checks in general: “If they wanted to, terrorists could simply target the long line of passengers awaiting security check outside the subway station.”

Others complained about the time wasted waiting in line: “People’s patience is limited. I’ll wait and see when the tension [between passengers and security guards] will deteriorate into physical conflicts.” Then there are those who are dissatisfied with the attitudes exhibited by the security guards: “I saw some security guards who looked like they were middle school students, but they were super arrogant. They should really thank Guangzhou Metro for creating jobs for them.”

Yet there are also people who defend this practice of security checks at stations: “Security checks indeed are unable to eliminate the occurrence of accidents, but just like locking your door, they can pose an obstacle to those who are looking to break the law.”

Following the online controversy, Guangzhou Metro issued a statement in the afternoon of May 7, stating the security guard involved, who worked at the Guangfo Line within Foshan’s jurisdiction, has been identified. The company claimed to have terminated the contract with the guard and reported him to the police.

Later, the blogger posted a few screenshots that showed the security guard apologizing to her, saying that this incident has “created tremendous pressure” for him. The authenticity of the screenshots has not yet been verified at the time of writing.

This isn’t the first time security guards working for Guangzhou Metro are involved in a controversy. Previously, Guangzhou Metro had apologized for asking a girl to remove her Gothic makeup before entering the station. Another security guard was previously dismissed for taking upskirt photos of a woman.

By Bobby Fung (@bobbyfungmr)

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China Sex & Gender

Censorship of Chinese 6B4T & Feminist Groups Prompts Wave of Support for “Douban Sisters”

Even those who don’t agree with ‘6b4t’ views condemn Douban’s recent crackdown on 6b4t and feminist groups.

Manya Koetse

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What is 6b4t? That is the question popping up in several places on Chinese social media this week after the popular networking platform Douban closed down several feminist groups and targeted the keyword ‘6B4T.’

Douban (豆瓣) is an influential Chinese social media platform that allows users to discuss and review books, music, films, and other topics. The platform has a ‘group’ (小组) function, with groups being like online forums revolving around a particular topic where Douban users can subscribe, post, and interact.

On the night of April 12, Douban closed down more than ten Douban feminist groups, of which some were linked to ‘6b4t’ views.

6b4t is an online movement that originated in South Korea and is about female empowerment and independence that shifts away from patriarchal society and male-dominated fields in popular culture and beyond.

The ‘6B’ stands for no husband, no children, no boyfriend, no male sex partner, not buying any products/brands that are unfriendly to women, and offering support to single women. The movement received some media attention earlier in 2019, when it was still about ‘4B’ or the ‘4 no’s’ (no marriage, no kids, no boyfriend, no sex; the ‘single women support’ and ‘refusal of buying misogynistic products’ were added later). The ‘4T’ stands for the rejection of shapewear (corsets), religion, otaku culture, and idols.

 

“A devastating blow for Chinese radical feminists”


 

The censorship of 6b4t-related groups on Douban sparked sharp criticism and anger online. On Twitter, ‘HAL 10000’ (@dualvectorfoil) called the crackdown “a devastating blow” for Chinese radical feminists.

The Twitter account FreeChineseFeminists (@FeministChina) posted a screenshot of Douban’s notification that the ‘6B4T’ group had been removed, with the platform calling it an “extreme” and “radical” “ideology.”

On Weibo, many commenters also spoke out against the removal of the feminist Douban groups.

“I am 6b4t and although it might seem extreme in the eyes of some, I am not harming anyone at all,” one person wrote, with another commenter adding: “This is completely limited to myself, I do not influence others.”

“I’ve been 6b4t for years without even realizing,” one Weibo user jokingly wrote: “I’ve been single forever!”

Another person admitted: “I don’t really look at Douban, and I don’t really understand 6b4t, but blowing up those groups like this goes too far.”

 

We have to firmly support our Douban sisters”


 

The account of Xianzi, the woman who became famous for the Xianzi versus Zhu Jun court case, also commented on the Douban censorship on April 13:

I am not a follower of 6b4t at all, but I firmly support my Douban sisters and oppose how the feminist Douban groups have been shut out. First, 6B4T clearly is an important branch of contemporary online feminism – shutting these groups out is shutting out discussions on female topics. Seconds, the viewpoint of 6B4T is not radical at all, it just asserts that women do not need to enter heterosexual relationships and can break away from masculine control. This is completely up to women themselves and has nothing to do with anyone else. When even such a viewpoint is banned, and women insisting on being single are still seen as rebellious — this is the fundamental reason why we have to firmly support our Douban sisters.

Many people support Xianzi’s statement, and meanwhile, the hashtag “Women Let’s Unite” (#女性们团结吧#) also took off on Weibo, with many commenters calling on women to let their voices be heard.

“If someone is covering your mouth to try and silence you – scream louder,” one person wrote.

The hashtag was also used to address issues of domestic abuse, a topic that has received a lot of attention on Chinese social media over the past year. In October of 2020, the death of the female vlogger Lamu, who was burnt by her ex-husband, also sparked an online movement that called on authorities to do more to protect and legally empower female victims of domestic abuse.

The ‘Women Unite’ hashtag page had received over 47 million views by late Tuesday night. Another relating hashtag, ‘Douban Feminism’ (#豆瓣女权#) was viewed over 40,000 times.

 

You can disagree, but you can’t silence them”


 

While the search for ‘6b4t’ gave few new results on the Douban site at the time of writing, there were still some older posts on the topic.

One noteworthy one is that by user *Blossom*, who took the time earlier this year to explain what 6b4t means to her, saying “6b4t is an act of struggle, it is not a discipline.”

In the post of February 2nd of this year, ‘Blossom’ explains that 6b4t is a way of resistance where the keyword is “sovereignty,” namely the female sovereignty over her own body. 6b4t is a way to fight for radical feminism, Blossom claims:

In the context of patriarchal society, women are sexually objectified while male sexuality equals power. Under this premise, marriage, childbearing, romantic love, and sexual activity are all about reinforcing the power of men and benefiting them. So we advocate 4b, which essentially is a non-violent and non-cooperative struggle mode, with the same characteristics as workers’ and slaves’ strikes.”

Although there are also people expressing disagreement with the 6b4t movement, many defend their right to have online discussion groups about their ideas.

“You can disagree, you can call them into question, but you can’t cover their mouths to silence them,” one Weibo user wrote.

“We can have groups advocating marriage and childbirth, why can’t we have groups advocating being single and childfree?”, another person asked, with one commenter stating: “I do not advocate 6B4T, but I will defend to the death the right of these women to advocate 6B4T.”

Throughout the years, feminist movements have often become a target of censorship on Chinese social media. Douban previously also censored content relating to the Zhu Jun sexual harassment case, and in the case of demanding justice for Lamu, some hasthag pages were also removed from Weibo. The renowned feminist Weibo account ‘Feminist Voices’ (@女权之声) was permanently banned in 2018, along with other feminist accounts.

“A new era of witch-hunting has started,” one top comment in a thread of 2200 comments said: “Get ready to fight, let your voice be heard!”

A somewhat ironic consequence of Douban’s latest censorship is that many people who had never heard about this ‘radical feminism’ now know what 6b4t is because it became a ‘banned term.’ “I’ve learnt a new word today,” some commenters say, with others vowing to support their silenced ‘Douban sisters.’

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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