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Man Harassed on Bus Triggers Netizens to Reverse ‘Slut-Shaming’

When Chinese media reported about a man falling victim to sexual harassment by a woman on a bus, female netizens responded to the issue in great numbers, using the occasion to turn the tables and ‘slut shame’ the male victim. Their true motive: to make a stand against stigmatization and victim-shaming.

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When Chinese media reported about a man falling victim to sexual harassment by a young woman on a bus, female netizens responded to the issue in great numbers, using the occasion to turn the tables and ‘slut shame’ the male victim. Their true motive: to make a stand against stigmatization and victim-shaming often experienced by women.

Recently, a man was reported to be sexually harassed on a bus in Jinan, Shandong Province. The suspect, a young female passenger, allegedly had been involved in other similar harassment situations before, but this was the first time an incident attracted so much media attention. Chinese netizens have collectively responded to the news, taking the opportunity to do reverse ‘slut shaming’, which is often done when the victim of sexual harassment is female.

‘Slut shaming’ is a form of stigmatization and victim-blaming that often occurs when women fall victim to sexual harassment. According to Leora Tanenbaum, author of Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet: “Slut-shaming is sexist because only girls and women are called to task for their sexuality, whether real or imagined; boys and men are congratulated for the exact same behavior. This is the essence of the sexual double standard: Boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts” (Huffington Post, 2015).

“What are you doing?!”

Jinan TV reported on the issue, featuring an interview with the driver of the bus on which the incident occurred and including some recordings of the incident by another bus passenger (see video below).

Mr. Han, the bus driver, says: “I saw it from the rearview mirror. The man was shouting, ‘what are you doing?!’ So I stopped the bus and came to look, to see what happened. The man said that this woman was harassing him. I was surprised. To avoid any misunderstanding, I asked the girl. But she didn’t say anything. So the man also dropped the issue. He changed to a front seat and got off at the next stop.”

Han also said he had previously seen the girl and was then surprised by her behavior. What he exactly meant with this ‘behavior’ was not specified in the interview.

The issue has attracted the attention of local bus drivers. Mr. Fu, the manager of the drivers’ team, stated that the girl has appeared on all three bus lines of their bus company: “She did some weird things towards male passengers on our bus lines K55, K93 and 165. Her actions including touching and some other strange things.” He said he believed the girl was emotionally troubled, and expressed his hope that her friends and family would intervene.

Weibo netizens: time for reverse slut-shaming

It is rare for news about men becoming victims of sexual harassment to make headlines in China. Many female netizens saw this news item as their chance to use some stereotypical ‘slut-shaming’ jargon on the male victim to turn the tables.

Some blame the man for being seductive and provoking trouble. “This man must be walking around with revealing clothes on,” one netizen said: “so he deserves to be touched. Why didn’t anyone else get touched? Next time, just wear more clothes and don’t go outside by yourself.”

“Shameless! Skimpily dressed just to seduce women! No wonder you were harassed; be thankful that you were not raped!” said another netizen.

Some offer ‘friendly’ advice, saying: “Look at you, wearing such revealing clothes in Summer, of course people will harass you! Remember to wear your winter jacket next time you go out!” Other commenters said: “Don’t take the bus alone; go outside in groups, especially at night… learn some self-defense also, so you can avoid danger!”

Other netizens clarified that these comments were not meant to be taken seriously, although they do hold a real message: “These are sarcastic comments meant for those with ‘Zhinan cancer‘ [chauvinist pigs] who blame girls when they are assaulted”, according to one netizen.

Chinese netizens say no to slut-shaming

The phenomenon of ‘slut shaming’ or blaming women for falling victim to sexual harassment has recently been criticized in two other occasions.

Earlier this year, actress Liu Yan was teased as a bridesmaid by a group of best men on a celebrity wedding. As Liu Yan is generally considered a ‘sexy’ actress, some said it was ‘unsurprising’ that she was teased or harassed, since being sexy allegedly means lacking self-respect. This triggered much online debate, with many netizens speaking out against this: “Being sexy means lacking self-respect? You should go back to live in the 1950s”. Another netizen defended the right to be sexy, commenting: “What is wrong with being sexy? Perfect curves and a nice figure should be shown! Not for the sake of chauvinistic pigs, but for the sake of feeling good about yourself.”

But slut-shaming involves more than blaming sexiness. Chinese female netizens also question the recurring implication that women are not looking after themselves. Shortly after the Heyi incident where a girl was assaulted in a chain hotel in Beijing, many safety tips for women started circulating on Chinese social media. State media outlet People’s Daily also published security guidelines for women, including tips saying women should not go to appointed places with strangers. Some netizens were critical about this kind of advice and defended their stance that women should not be held responsible for their safety when they are alone.

Blaming women for being “too attractive” or implying that they are “not careful enough” about their own safety supports a male-dominated discourse that holds women responsible for their own victimhood. What happened on the bus in Jinan offered netizens a chance to make this existing discourse explicit, and demonstrate how ridiculous it is.

“You can’t escape the laws of karma”, said some netizens. Apparently, many netizens hope that men will become more sympathetic to female victims of harassment after undergoing it themselves.

– By Diandian Guo

Additional editing by Manya Koetse.
©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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    Rob

    May 17, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Considering the arrest of the Feminist Five last year who were trying to draw attention to this very issue, I think what she did is purely awesome!

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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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