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China Sex & Gender

Jiujiang University Lecture: “Being a Virgin Is the Best Gift for a Husband”

A recent university lecture by Ding Xuan, an expert on China’s traditional culture and women’s issues, stirred controversy on Weibo after her statements on female chastity went viral. In an interview on May 22, Ding Xuan apologized but still defended her stance.

Manya Koetse

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A recent university lecture by Ding Xuan, an expert on China’s traditional culture and women’s issues, stirred controversy on Weibo after her statements on female chastity went viral. In an interview on May 22, Ding Xuan apologized but still defended her stance.

A controversial lecture on traditional culture and values for women at Jiangxi’s Jiujiang university has become a topic of discussion in Chinese media and on social media platforms.

The public lecture took place on May 14 at the Jiujiang University in China’s southeast province Jiangxi. It was themed around women’s virtues and “How to be a model woman in the new era.” It caught the attention of netizens when a student posted pictures of the lecture and its alleged Powerpoint slides, which contained sentences such as “being a virgin is the best gift for a husband” and “wearing revealing clothing is vulgar.”

The lecture was held by the 63-year-old Ding Xuan (丁璇), a well-known expert from Hebei on traditional culture. She is also a member of the China Women’s Development Foundation and is often invited to speak at educational institutes, enterprises, and governmental organizations about female virtues or other topics related to Chinese traditional culture.

Ding Xuan’s talk at Jiujiang University drew much controversy over the past week, with people condemning her “feudal thinking.” Many netizens said her speech countered gender equality. People also questioned why Ding was provided a platform at the university to spread these ideas.

In response to the controversy, Jiujiang University’s Publicity Department denied that the lecture contained the slides shared on social media.

Chinese media outlet Global Times reported that the school still supported their decision to host Ding Xuan, saying her seminar did not contain anything “inappropriate,” and that it was meant for female students to “respect themselves and find happiness.”

On Weibo, however, many netizens are angered about Ding Xuan’s lecture: “Any ‘virtues’ that are specifically taught to women and not to men are bad! Men and women both need to avoid immorality, why would you specifically teach morals to women?”, some netizens said.

 

“A virtuous woman does not kill her child.”

 

On video platform Tudou, What’s on Weibo found this video featuring one of Ding Xuan’s full lectures on “women’s virtues.” In this lecture, which was held in March of 2016, Ding talks about various issues on how to be a virtuous woman.

The lecture focuses on anything from posture to abortion. Ding stresses that women should not eat while walking, for example, should not raise their voice to greet their neighbors, should not cross their arms while talking, and mentions many other ‘rules’ that ‘virtuous women’ should live by.

Later in the lecture, Ding talks about abortion and shows the audience a disturbing anti-abortion video clip, featuring bloody abortion procedures and graphic pictures of aborted fetuses. While the sound of a crying baby is played, the clip shows blood-soaked fetal limbs and body parts.

Ding then continues to explain that women undergoing abortion are murderers who kill their own baby (“killed by their own mother by her own hand!“) – emphasizing that virtuous women do not “kill their children.”

 

“Taken out of context.”

 

Since the controversy over the Jiujiang lecture, Ding Xuan has received a lot of attention, with various bloggers and journalists speaking out against her.

On May 22, Ding Xuan finally responded to the controversy in an exclusive interview with BTimenow (北京时间此刻), in which she confirmed that she was personally invited to give a lecture on women’s issues by Jiujiang University.

Ding Xuan said that, although she did mention the statements that triggered controversy, they were taken out of context. She also apologized for “perhaps delivering her speech the wrong way.”

Ding Xuan.

About the statement on women wearing revealing clothing, she said: “[The people who criticized me] they did not attend my lecture and probably do not understand the circumstances. There were some students wearing revealing clothing that day, and I raised this issue. At the time, only a few people opposed to it and they left early.”

Ding stressed that it is not her intention to make women do everything she says, but that her lectures just reflect her personal point-of-view and experiences. She said it is how she lives and how she teaches her daughter to live.

 

“Who is willing to marry a woman who has had an abortion before marriage?”

 

When BTimenow asked Ding why she raised the issue of revealing clothes to students that day, she answered: “They do not understand that I just said it for their own good. They are now nice-looking ladies who want to dress up, but they shouldn’t dress like they are not wearing anything at all. Revealing their thighs and exposing their cleavage; their breasts are showing. Don’t tell me we don’t bear any responsibility to teach our children? Women should dress properly to protect themselves. Firstly to prevent getting sick, secondly to prevent sexual harassment.”

In the interview, Ding also backed her statement about virginity: “We should remind girls to keep their chastity, which can guarantee the blessing of marriage. Who is willing to marry a woman who has had an abortion before marriage, and who has been someone’s mistress? But people can also have their own point of view, I don’t object to that.”

Ding said she will continue to do lectures on female virtues for anyone who is interested. On Weibo, many netizens say these kinds of speeches should not be given at a university. “It is not appropriate for a university to hosts such a lecture,” one person (@兔子栗子) said. “Wake up! The Qing dynasty is over!”, others wrote.

Many Weibo users commented that if the university hosted these kinds of lectures for women, they should do the same for men. “[Many men] sleep with one girl after the other, yet they still expect to marry a virgin,” some said.

Another commenter said: “Ding Xuan is a woman herself, why does she belittle herself this way? She should return to the feudal times – she is not a modern woman.”

– By Manya Koetse

©2017 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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    Li Zhengmin

    July 29, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Every single comment cited in this article is bashing Ms. Ding. Biased article much?

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China Health & Science

Chinese Doctor Knocks Herself Out in Controversial Self-Experiment

Dr. Chen wanted to warn about the dangers of sevoflurane and other drugs.

Manya Koetse

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A female doctor has become a topic of discussion on Chinese social media for her self-experimentation with anesthesia.

Dr. Chen (陈大夫), a Nanjing doctor who works in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department, conducted the experiment in response to an ongoing discussion on whether or not a handkerchief dipped in inhalation anesthetics could cause immediate unconsciousness (“一捂就晕”).

The discussion was triggered by news of the death of a 23-year-old woman from Foshan, Guangdong Province, on February 8. The recent college graduate was found in a hotel room and it was later ruled that the cause of death was acute respiratory failure due to sevoflurane toxicity. The victim’s company supervisor, a 39-year-old man named Peng, is now suspected of fatally sedating and raping the young woman.

The case led to speculation among netizens whether or not sevoflurane could have knocked out the woman in seconds. There have been ongoing debates on the effects of general anesthetics used to sedate unsuspected victims, with some specialists arguing that it is not so easy to make someone slip into unconsciousness within a matter of seconds – saying it would take much longer than and only if an unusually high dosage is used.

Dr. Chen posted on February 10 that she was certain that it is possible for certain inhalation anesthetics to immediately make someone pass out, but her claim was refuted by others. The popular Weibo blogger Jiangning Popo (@江宁婆婆), a police officer, was one of the persons involved in the discussion claiming Chen was wrong.

Dr. Chen is active on Weibo under the handle @妇产科的陈大夫, and with over two million followers on her account, she is somewhat of a ‘celebrity’ doctor.

Instead of spending time arguing back and forth on the internet, Dr. Chen decided to put the issue to the test herself with an unopened bottle of sevoflurane that she had previously purchased for the planned sterilization of her dog. The sevoflurane had already passed its expiry date.

On February 16, Dr. Chen then asked someone else to film her doing the self-experiment and she posted the video on Weibo, in which she inhaled sevoflurane on a cloth. The doctor soon passed out in the video, which has since been deleted.

The experiment in the video lasts 64 seconds, and shows Chen:

– 00:01-00:06 Opening the bottle of sevoflurane
– 00:07-00:12 Preparing a cloth
– 00:13-00:23 Putting the sevoflurane on the cloth
– 00:23-00:26 Closing the cap of the bottle
– 00:27-00:28 Putting the cloth on her mouth and nose
– 00:29-01:33 = the time frame of losing consciousness (with first symptoms starting at 0:44) to going limp and falling on the floor (1:20) and being completely unconscious (1:21-1:33).

Dr. Chen’s experiment immediately sparked controversy after she posted the video on social media.

Although sevoflurane is a prescription drug and a controlled substance, it is also sold online as a type of drug. According to The Paper, the number of rape cases in China facilitated by drugs have risen over the past three years, with many ‘date rape drugs’ being sold and bought over the internet.

With sevoflurane being a controlled substance, Dr. Chen’s video triggered discussions on whether or not she was actually involving in a criminal act by doing the self-experiment. She also received criticism from within the medical community that she used this medication outside of the hospital environment.

Dr. Chen soon deleted the video herself and then called the police to personally explain and apologize for the incident, with the news soon going viral (#女医生拿自己做实验后报警并致歉#, 270 million views).

But despite the controversy, the doctor still defends her actions to some extend. Although Chen stated on February 17 that her self-experiment was “not right,” dangerous, and should never be imitated by anyone, she later also explained on her Weibo page that she thinks sevoflurane as a prescription drug is too easy to get your hands on and that the existing laws to prevent people from buying it are too weak.

The doctor has succeeded in raising public awareness on the dangers of these kinds of drugs. She also reminds both women and men never to leave their drink unattended, as the dangers of someone slipping something in your drink are real and the consequences can be grave.

As the incident has gone trending on Chinese social media, many commenters praise Dr. Chen for her experiment, while others also praise her for being transparent and admitting her mistakes.

 
By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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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China Arts & Entertainment

Another Gala, Another Controversy: 2021 Spring Festival Gala Draws Criticism for Gendered Jokes

Many felt the Gala’s comic sketches were insensitive to Chinese women and singles.

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The 2021 Spring Festival Gala was held on Thursday on the night of Chinese New Year’s Eve. The annual Spring Festival Gala, arranged and produced by the state broadcaster CCTV, is one of the world’s most-watched TV shows.

Although watching the Gala together with family members has become an annual tradition for Chinese families for several decades already, the show’s comic sketches and skits – often the highlights of the show – are becoming increasingly controversial and less popular in recent years.

In earlier decades, the xiaopin (comic sketch) was the best-received type of performance of the Gala for evoking laughter among the audiences. The various xiaopin shows are filled with puns, funny lines, and plot twists to entertain the viewers.1

Over recent years, these comic acts performed during the Spring Festival Gala have come to center more on social issues such as environmental protection, corruption, social morals, migrant workers, and family affairs – including those concerning love and marriage. Many of the performances in this year’s Gala followed a ‘happy beginning with sad endings’ plot, conveying more sophisticated messages and values that many viewers did not appreciate.

These seemingly changing undertones are also a reason why younger generations often say they prefer spending time online instead of watching the Gala. Some young people say they feel the Spring Festival Gala is losing the real “Spring Festival atmosphere” (“年味”).

By now, the Gala is increasingly known for triggering controversy online.

In 2015, the Gala was criticized for being misogynistic. One of the sketches titled “Goddesses and Tomboys” (“女神和女汉子”) marked a contrast between an ‘iron woman’ or ‘tomboy’ (女汉子) and a ‘goddess’ (女神) by depicting the first as a single chubby woman and the second as a succesful slim model, which critics deemed to be stereotypical and sexist. The same show also drew criticism for depicting ‘leftover women,’ unmarried women over 30, as unwanted and second-hand goods.

“女神和女汉子”

In 2017, another controversial sketch titled “Permanent True Love” (“真情永驻”) seemed to convey that women have an obligation to reproduce. The featuring female character voluntarily asked to divorce her husband after she had a miscarriage, out of consideration for his supposed right to offspring.

“Permanent True Love” (“真情永驻”).

In 2018, a comedy sketch titled “Share the Same Joy and Happiness” (“同喜同乐”), which included an actress wearing blackface, struck the wrong note with many social media users, who deemed it ‘inappropriate’, ‘offensive’, and ‘racist.’

This year, the Gala also was not without controversies. One sketch titled “Happiness towards Spring” (“开往春天的幸福”) was meant to emphasize the love between couples but drew criticism for the sexist jokes it contained. One of the male characters in the scene compared his ex-wife to an ugly villain when she does not wear make-up saying: “Have you seen her take off her makeup?No brows! Once we ate together face to face, and she held a pair of chopsticks, with the light flashing, and I thought she was Voldemort.”

Similar jokes and puns reappeared several times. Many viewers criticized the exaggerated banter over women transforming once their make-up is removed, with some commenting: “These lines are delivering a simple message that women with makeup are pretty, while women without makeup are invariably ugly and sloppy.”

Another skit titled “Urged to Get Married Every Holiday” (“每逢佳节被催婚”) attracted online attention as well for containing lines like “My daughter is already 28 yet still has no boyfriend” and for referring to unmarried people as “Single Dogs” (单身狗) – a term that initially appeared in 2011 as a buzzword filled with self-mockery before the term developed a strong negative connotation.

Bloggers and web users expressed that the use of these kinds of insensitive terms in the Gala made them feel uncomfortable, only adding to the anxiety and self-loathing they already feel in a time of major social pressure.

“I have been urged to get married countless times by my relatives these days already, do I still also have to be insulted in this skit, too?” some Weibo users said, with others wondering if there was “something wrong” with the director of the show for embarrassing unmarried people like this.

Still from “Urged to Marry Every Holiday” (每逢佳节被催婚).

Over recent years, there are more online discussions regarding the pressure faced by women to get married and how women (and their appearance) are portrayed in the media. There is a growing public awareness about gender discrimination and inequality, with campaigns on women’s rights also being highlighted by Chinese official media. The media’s stigmatization and stereotyping of women are topics that are now more often challenged and questioned on Chinese social media.

Although many female web users spoke out against the misrepresentation and distortion of female roles in the Gala, there were also commenters who advocated a more lighthearted approach, writing things such as: “Don’t overreact, these gendered jokes only serve a theatrical purpose.” Others argue that people are only looking for the negative messages in sketches that are meant to be positive, with one Weibo user wondering about all the controversy: “Are we even watching the same Gala?!”

The diverse discussions regarding the Gala and how it represents gender roles do not stand by themselves – they are a signal of a bigger movement questioning the representation of gender roles in Chinese popular culture. Since these discussions won’t die out any time soon, we can expect more of these controversies to surface again in the Galas to come.

Want to know more about the Gala? What’s on Weibo did a liveblog, check it out here.

By Vivian Wang

Edited for clarity by Manya Koetse

References

1 Liu, Ji. 2010. “Ambivalent Laughter: Comic Sketches in CCTV’s Spring Festival Eve Gala.” Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese, 10(1), 103-12.

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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