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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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    China Marketing & Advertising

    Hard Measures for Durex in China after “Vulgar” Ads

    One Durex sex toy ad gave off the wrong vibrations to Chinese regulators.

    Manya Koetse

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    As if it wasn’t already bad enough that fewer people are having sex during COVID19 lockdowns, leading to a decline in condom sales, condoms & sex toys brand Durex is now also (again) punished for the “vulgar” contents of its advertisements in China.

    News of Durex facing penalties in China became top trending on Thursday, with one Weibo hashtag page about the matter receiving over 1,2 billion views.

    Durex has over three million fans on its official Weibo account (@杜蕾斯官方微博), which is known for its creative and sometimes bold posts, including spicy word jokes. Durex opened its official Weibo account in 2010.

    A post by Durex published on Wednesday about the release of Apple’s super speedy new 5G iPhone, for example, just said: “5G is very fast, but you can take it slow,” adding: “Some things just can’t be quick.” The post received over 900,000 likes.

    Other ads have also received much praise from Chinese netizens. One ad’s slogan just shows a condom package, saying “Becoming a father or [image of condom] – it’s all a sign of taking responsibility.”

    According to various Chinese news outlets, Durex has been penalized with a 810,000 yuan ($120,400) fine for failing to adhere to China’s official advertisement guidelines, although it is not entirely clear to us at this point which fine was given for which advertisement, since the company received multiple fines for different ads over the past few years.

    One fine was given to Durex Manufacturer RB & Manon Business (Shanghai) for content that was posted on e-commerce site Tmall, Global Times reports.

    According to the state media outlet, “the ad used erotic words to describe in detail multiple ways to use a Durex vibrator.” The fine was already given out in July of this year, but did not make headlines until now.

    (Image for reference only, not the ad in question).

    In another 2019 case, the condom brand did a joint social media campaign cooperation with Chinese milk tea brand HeyTea, using the tagline “Tonight, not a drop left,” suggesting a connection between HeyTea’s creamy topping and semen.

    According to China’s Advertisement Examination System (广告审查制度), there are quite some no-goes when it comes to advertising in China. Among many other things, ads are not allowed to be deceptive in any way, they cannot use superlatives, nor display any obscene, scary, violent or superstitious content.

    Chinese regulators are serious about these rules. In 2015, P&G’s Crest was fined $963,000 for “false advertising”, at it promised that Crest would make your teeth whiter in “just one day.”

    However, advertisement censorship can be a grey area. Any ads that “disturb public order” or “violate good customs,” for example, are also not allowed. For companies, it is not always clear when they are actually crossing a line.

    On Weibo, there are also contrasting opinions on this matter. Many people, however, support Durex and enjoy their exciting ads and slogans. With the case dominating the top trending charts and discussions on social media the entire day, the latest penalty may very well be one of Durex’s most successful marketing campaigns in China thus far.

    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.

    ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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    China Sex & Gender

    Faking Social Media 2.0: The Business of Buying “High-End Moments” for WeChat

    Some are so eager to look picture perfect on their social media feed, that they go to extremes to create a fake online life.

    Manya Koetse

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    Your fake social life, delivered to your WeChat at 5 pm every day? Sounds very Nosedive, yet there are many who buy their social media contents in an attempt to appear cool, rich, and handsome.

    This week, the story of a Wechat group for ‘fake rich’ women in Shanghai who pool together money to rent designer bags or share a two-person high tea at the Ritz with six people went super trending on Chinese social media.

    While the ‘group buying-style’ WeChat lady socialite group is still trending on Weibo, more related stories are surfacing, with one story taking the idea of ‘faking it’ on social media to the next level. It even makes the Shanghai ‘fake rich’ girls seem authentic – at least these women actually went to the Ritz or Bylgari Hotel (although sharing the cost of one hotel room with 40 people).

    On Tuesday, WeChat blog author Jiajiada (加加大) published a now-popular article about the phenomenon of “Buying WeChat Moments,” which finds its origins in the circles of young men taking PUA training (PUA stands for Pickup Artists, teaching men how to seduce women).

    WeChat Moments (朋友圈) is a social feature for WeChat that allows users to share updates, photos, articles, and videos with their contacts, comparable to the Facebook timeline or Instagram feed.

    In their mission to turn themselves into Mr. Perfect (高富帅), there is an online trend where male WeChat users purchase premade ‘high-end Moments’ photos to post on their timeline.

    Via services offered through Taobao, people can become a paying member of a WeChat group where they get daily new photos to show off their (fake) fun, fancy, and interesting lives on social media. New photos are delivered to them every day at 5 pm.

    In one of these WeChat groups joined by the author, there were a total of 138 members, mostly men. Although some people joined the group to use the daily photos for marketing purposes, the majority were members using the photos in their feed to appear more glamorous on social media, Jiajiada writes.

    The daily photos provided to the members show the kind of life that would make anyone envious. Photos show a life that’s all about expensive wines, watches, and food, having Chanel shopping sprees (including photos of receipt for extra authenticity), going out to fancy KTV bars, having weekend trips out in the beautiful nature, and then some cuddle sessions with a pretty cat.

    For example, one of the photos provided to members in the group joined by Jiajiada shows a setting where someone is having a cup of Phoenix Single Bush – one of the most complex and high-quality oolong teas. As verified by Jiajiada, that very same photo then indeed showed up in the several social media feeds of the group members, including the text.

    Of course, the photos that are carefully selected by the WeChat group owner never show a face. They might show the legs of someone lying by the pool, or the hands of someone sipping on a glass of wine, but the photos are general enough to be used by anyone – making their friends believe these are their own authentic experiences.

     

    “Does your male friend use this gay app? He’s not necessarily gay.”

     

    But where does the WeChat group owner actually get all their photos of these expensive shopping sprees and exclusive wine tastings? Researching its source, author Jiajiada found out that many of the pictures are actually taken from the app Blued.

    Blued is China’s most popular gay dating and lifestyle app. Since it was launched by Geng Le (see our article from 2015 about him here), it has grown into the biggest social platform for gays in China.

    The app allows users to search for keywords, such as “luxury hotels” or “wine bar.” There are super topics on the app, such as “The hotels most loved by gays,” that show hundreds of photos posted by Blued users of fancy places and dinners.

    Because the images posted on Blued do not have any watermarks, they are easy to steal and use for other purposes, including for people on WeChat to make money off.

    “If your male friend has this guy app, he’s not necessarily gay,” Jiajiada writes, explaining that many straight men just steal content from gay guys to look better online.

    Although the phenomenon of buying “high-end Moments” photos and copy-pasting them into your feed is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to appear richer and more interesting online, there are also other ways of buying “high-end Moments” on Chinese e-commerce site Taobao that require more effort.

    There are agencies, for example, that offer set packages including photography, settings, and all props to make the ‘Mr. Perfect’ photos to fill up social media feeds – from posing in a race car, to pretending to lead a meeting, or reading the newspaper over breakfast in an expensive hotel room.

    .

    On Weibo, there are not many people who sympathize with the men buying their WeChat social media content online, nor with the women who might actually fall for them. Some call the men “boring,” and the women who believe them “materialistic.” Others just laugh at how fake they all are.

    “I hope these [fake] girls and boys can all find each other, so they don’t make other people unhappy,” one person writes.

    But there are also those who seem inspired, writing: “Oh man, I might need to start using this gay app from now on!”

    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.

    ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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