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“Go and Wear Your Miniskirts!” – Shenzhen Police Fights Sexual Harassment on Public Transport, Protects Freedom of Dress

“Go and wear your beautiful miniskirts! Perverts, we will catch you!”, Shenzhen police states.

Manya Koetse

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A strong statement by Shenzhen police that women should not be afraid to wear miniskirts in public transport has gone viral on Chinese social media. The online campaign “Wear your skirts, we’ll catch the perverts” breaks with old ideas that place the burden of public safety and sexual assault on women.

Over the past two weeks, the hashtag “Still Go and Wear Your Miniskirt” (#小裙子 你尽管去穿#) has received almost 20 million views on Sina Weibo.

The phrase became popular on Chinese social media after a published statement from the Shenzhen Public Safety Office in early August on its public WeChat account, in which they made clear: “Go and wear your beautiful miniskirts! Perverts, we will catch you!” (“世上好看的小裙子,你尽管去穿!地铁上的色狼,我们来抓!”)

Since late June of this year, Shenzhen’s local public security office has initiated a crackdown on sexual harassment in public transport. In a period of 4-5 weeks, they have succeeded in arresting 29 suspects for indecent behavior, of which 20 were arrested on the spot by plainclothes officers surveilling the subway.

Sexual harassment on China’s subways is a long-standing problem, especially during the rush hours when people are squeezed together on the trains.

Men secretly filming under women’s skirts has also become a specific problem since the rising popularity of smartphones in China. Every year before summer, social media users warn each other to be extra vigilant when wearing skirts in public transport or on escalators, because offenders find creative ways to get some under-skirt footage.

These problems even led to the introduction of China’s first women-only subway cars in 2017. Many social media commenters at the time, however, did not see the segregation of male and female passengers as a solution to the problem.

An online poll at the time showed that 59.7% of respondents opposed the measure, saying it opposed gender equality and even calling it a form of sex-based discrimination.

The crackdown on sex offenders on China’s subways appears to receive more support on Chinese social media.

 

“[This is] a direct rebuttal of the traditional idea that the burden should be placed on women to protect themselves.”

 

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua called the Shenzhen police statement a “direct rebuttal of the traditional idea that the burden should be placed on women to protect themselves.”

Author Linzi Lu (林子璐) writes: “In the past, after sexual misconduct, indecent behavior or assault took place, some safe travel reminders to the public would warn women not to travel alone at night or not to wear revealing clothing,” describing how these reminders, although supposedly well-intended, place the responsibility on women to take care of their own security, instead of focusing on the offenders who put their safety at risk.

Lu further adds that the efforts of the Shenzhen public security team are a valuable learning example for others, breaking with old ideas about victim blaming (受害者有罪论).

In 2016, a brutal assault on a woman at a Beijing hotel sent shock waves through the country as the attack was captured on security cameras and showed that bystanders did not intervene to help the victim. In response, state media spread infosheets on Weibo telling women not to go out “alone in dark streets” and not to open the door for strangers.

In Europe, a similar response from authorities triggered controversy when the mayor of Cologne warned women to “keep men at arm’s length” to prevent sexual assault, after scores of women were sexually abused and mugged in the city during new year celebrations.

“Isn’t it the job of the police to make sure we [women] can safely go out?” one netizen responded at the time.

 

“I’m rooting for Shenzhen police, even if I don’t wear miniskirts myself!”

 

By now, the Shenzhen “miniskirt campaign” has received the praise of thousands of netizens on Weibo. One person (@潇洒帅气刘栋琛) wrote: “The distorted idea that women attract being assaulted because of what they wear should not become an established idea, nor should it be propagated. Let’s go by the law and catch the perverts, building on a safe and harmonious society.”

“I’m rooting for Shenzhen police, even if I don’t wear miniskirts myself!”, another commenter wrote.

“I am almost moved to tears by this [Shenzhen police] statement,” another female Weibo user said, receiving over 50,000 likes.

Other female social media users wrote: “Through this campaign, all women can feel safer. It’s not us who make the bad people bad, it’s in the nature of those people.”

A male commenter said: “Both men and women should be able to wear whatever style of clothes they want to wear. It’s a shameful rhetoric to say that someone, who is fully innocent, can ‘provoke’ those who are obscene.”

On Twitter, the well-known Shenzhen tech maker Naomi Wu (@realsexycyborg) showed some pride in the recent measures by local authorities, writing: “We’re a bit different than other cities ?‍♀️?” (see embedded tweet below).

This summer, Shenzhen is not the only city cracking down on sex offenders on public transport. Among other cities, Beijing also has an active team of plainclothes police officers who patrol the subway network each day to prevent the sexual assault or harassment of women.

Through the official Shenzhen police Weibo account (@深圳公安), the Shenzhen team stated that they were happy about the attention their crackdown campaign has received online: “We’ve hit the top-trending search lists,” they wrote: “It’s a bit overwhelming. But we will keep on doing what we do!”

By Manya Koetse


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

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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    Lorenzo Dikian

    August 16, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    It’s really good decision!

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China Insight

Red Cross Society of China in Bad Light Due to Online Rumors after Gansu Earthquake

Even though the rumors surrounding the Red Cross might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

Manya Koetse

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A handwarmer for 500 yuan ($70), a tent for 2200 yuan ($308), a blanket for 100 yuan ($14)? An online list detailing items supposedly procured by the Gansu Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts has ignited controversy on Chinese social media in recent days. Although the Red Cross has denied all rumors, the incident underscores public skepticism towards the organization.

After the devastating 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Jishishan (积石山), a county in China’s Gansu Province’s Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, on December 18, Chinese social media platforms were flooded with news related to the disaster. The overnight earthquake killed at least 148 people and left hundreds injured.

News of the earthquake resonated deeply throughout the country, and the ongoing search and rescue operations and relief efforts, hindered by landslides, ruined infrastructure, and freezing temperatures, have attracted major attention online.

While much of the discourse revolves around the goodness of the people contributing to charities and doing all they can to help victims in the affected areas, there is also public distrust surrounding the motives of some charities or helping organizations that might use the disaster as an opportunity to make a profit.

One hotly debated topic revolves around the Red Cross Society of China, after a list surfaced online of items allegedly purchased by the Gansu Red Cross for relief efforts in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake.

Image published on Weibo via Red Cross Society of China (@中国红十字会总会).

The procurement list raised controversy due to the high prices of the common items listed, and because of a supposed “management fee” (管理费) of 1.6 million yuan ($224k).

In response, the Red Cross refuted these claims, asserting that they had not issued any such list (#甘肃红十字称没发布任何物资清单#). On December 24, the Gansu Red Cross took to Weibo (@甘肃省红十字会) to clarify that the circulating information was “grossly inaccurate.” They assured the public that all donations would directly aid earthquake relief efforts, without incurring management fees.

The Red Cross statement on Weibo.

Even though the procurement list might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

“Why does the Red Cross end up in the top trending lists every time?” one commenter wondered: “Their information should be more transparent and timely.”

Others also suggested that merely denying the rumors was not enough, and that they hoped that the Red Cross would provide more details and information to show netizens, of whom many donated money, how their charity money is being spent to help relief efforts in the affected areas in Gansu and Qinghai.

The fact that the Red Cross Weibo post did not allow any commenting did not help: “Why are you afraid to let us openly discuss this?”

 
Red Cross Society of China: Tainted by Suspicion
 

The Red Cross of China, the nation’s largest charitable organization, continues to grapple with a tarnished reputation that partly stems from the 2011 “Guo Meimei Incident.”

Guo Meimei (郭美美), whose real name is Guo Meiling, became an infamous internet celebrity in the summer of 2011 after flaunting her excessive wealth online whilst claiming to work as a “commercial general manager” for the Red Cross Society of China.

The issue severely eroded the society’s credibility, which has been designated by the government as the central public donation organization during times of disasters (Cheng 2016). From luxury handbags to sports cars, the 19-year-old Guo showed off her money on Weibo, and quickly went viral on various message boards as people were angered over corruption and potential misuse of charity money.

Guo Meimei

Despite efforts by the Red Cross Society to debunk these rumors and distance itself from Guo, speculations persisted. Many speculated about Guo’s potential ties to the organization, even if she did not officially work there. As highlighted by Cheng (2016), the public’s negative sentiment toward the Red Cross triggered “a chain of credibility crises” and even spread to other charitable groups in China.

During the 2020 Wuhan Covid outbreak, the Red Cross faced scrutiny for allegedly stockpiling public donations of medical supplies in warehouses rather than promptly distributing them to frontline medical personnel facing shortages.

The current allegations against the Red Cross of China in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake also echo other past controversies, such as the one they dealt with after the 2008 Sichuan quake. Red Cross officials were then also accused of misusing donations by purchasing needlessly expensive tents and vehicles.

 
Donations for the ‘Underdog’: The Han Hong Foundation
 

The growing public distrust towards the Red Cross has arguably paved the way for other Chinese charities to gain prominence. A prime example is the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation (韩红爱心慈善基金会), established in 2012 by renowned Chinese folk singer Han Hong (韩红, 1971).

Although Han Hong has been engaged in charity for many years, during which she invested a lot of her own money, the charity she established became more known after the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation was committed to aid efforts during the Wuhan Covid outbreak in 2020 and the Henan floods in 2021.

Han Hong (center), picture via Xiaohongshu fan of Han Hong.

After the earthquake in Gansu on December 18th, Han Hong’s organization immediately organized rescue teams and provided people in the affected areas with clothes and (medical) supplies. Hang Hong was able to rake in millions thanks to her reputation of being compassionate and altruistic, as well as through her strong network in China’s entertainment industry, leading numerous Chinese celebrities to support her relief efforts.

But Han Hong’s organization is also affected by the public distrust surrounding charity in China. On December 23, it was rumored that her Charity Foundation was officially asked to leave the disaster area as well as to hand over a portion of their donations.

The foundation refuted these claims by issuing a statement on December 25 (#韩红基金会辟谣#).

Statement by Han Hong Love Charity Foundation refuting rumors that their charity work was hindered by officials.

In the public view, there seems to be a big difference between perceptions of large entities like the Red Cross and other ‘official’ charitable organizations versus smaller, more independent initiatives like the Han Hong foundation, which operates as a private charitable entity.

Reflecting on the rumors surrounding both the Red Cross and Han Hong’s foundation, one Weibo commenter noted: “These rumors come into existence because so many of these so-called charitable foundations actually treat charity as their business. And so, they become ‘competitors.’”

Meanwhile, Han Hong’s organization stresses that it operates under the guidance and oversight of the party and government, and only provide emergency support through their support.

In online discussions on the power of the Red Cross versus Han Hong’s organization, some commenters suggest that it is time for the government and authorities to reflect on why a private organization would be more trusted than the Red Cross, a government organized NGO.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “What Han Hong does is true charity instead of business.” Another person replied: “The biggest disaster here is actually the erosion of public trust.”

By Manya Koetse

References

Cheng, Yang. 2016. “Social Media Keep Buzzing! A Test of Contingency Theory in China’s Red Cross Credibility Crisis.” International Journal of Communication, June 2016: pp. 3241+.

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Tsingtao Brewery ‘Pee-Gate’: Factory Worker Caught Urinating in Raw Material Warehouse

The pee incident, that occurred at a subsidiary Tsingtao Beer factory, has caused concerns among consumers.

Manya Koetse

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A video that has circulated on Chinese social media since October 19 shows how an alleged worker at a Tsingtao Beer factory climbs over a wall at the raw material production site and starts to urinate.

The incident reportedly occurred at the Tsingtao Beer Factory No. 3, a subsidiary of the Tsingtao Brewing Company, located in Qingdao, Shandong.

After the video went viral, the Tsingtao Brewery Company issued a statement that they took the incident very seriously and immediately report it to the authorities, who have started an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, the specific batch in production has been halted and shut off.

The incident has caused concern among consumers, and some commenters on social media wonder if this was the first time something like this has happened. “How do we know this hasn’t happened many times before?”

Others speculate about what might have motivated the man to urinate at the production site. There are those who believe that the man is part of an undercover operation orchestrated by a rivaling company, aimed at discrediting Tsingtao. It’s even suggested that there were two ‘moles’ leaking in this incident: one doing the urinating, and the other doing the video ‘leak.’

Meanwhile, there are voices who are critical of Tsingtao, suggesting that the renowned beer brand has not effectively addressed the ‘pee gate’ scandal. It remains uncertain how this incident will impact the brand, but some netizens are already expressing reservations about ordering a Tsingtao beer as a result.

But there are also those who joke about the “pissing incident,” wondering if Tsingtao Beer might soon launch a special “urine flavored beer.”

By Manya Koetse

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Featured photo by Jay Ang (link).

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