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China Sex & Gender

The ‘Zhinan’ Stereotype: Teasing the ‘Straight Guy’ is an Online Game

For many girls, makeup is part of their day to day life. But what happens when girls test their boyfriend’s knowledge about their makeup items? A new popular game on WeChat and Sina Weibo does not only reveal men’s ignorance on cosmetics, it also reiterates China’s ‘Zhinan’ [‘Straight Guy’] stereotype.

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For many women, makeup is part of their day-to-day life. But what happens when they test their boyfriend’s knowledge about their makeup items? A new popular game on WeChat and Sina Weibo does not only reveal men’s ignorance on cosmetics, it also reiterates China’s ‘Zhinan’ [‘Straight Guy’] stereotype.

How much are your makeup items worth according to your boyfriend? This question is at the center of a new online test that has drawn hundreds of thousands of participants on China’s social media overnight.

The ‘test’ entails that girls present their boyfriends with their many different cosmetics while filming, and ask them to guess their functions and prices. The video is then later shared on social media under the hashtag “How much is your makeup according to your BF? (#男朋友觉得你的化妆品多少钱) – the ‘game’ instantly became a top trending topic on Weibo.

Teasing the ‘ignorant’ boyfriend

Many girls are eager to participate in the game. Those without boyfriends invite their male friends to take part. In most cases, the men are completely confused about women’s cosmetics; they mistake eyeliner for lipstick, and have somewhat peculiar excuses to explain their incorrect answers – when asked why a “foundation” would be black (actually an eye-shadow), one young man answered it was “because some people like looking like South-East Asian beach style”. As for prices, many boys simply adopt the ’35-yuan strategy’, where everything is guessed to be 35 RMB (±5,4$), randomly attaching low prices to their girlfriends fancy cosmetics. Although most men seemingly know nothing about their girlfriend’s makeup, they often appear dead serious in the video’s, and seem quite confident that they have the situation under control – to much amusement of Weibo’s female netizens.

China is not the first country where this game became a hype. A similar test “Guys guessing the price of makeup” was popular on English social media in 2014. But in China, there’s more to the game than teasing the ignorant boyfriend; it is about making fun of ‘zhinan’ (直男, literally “straight guys”) in general.

China’s zhinan stereotype

‘Zhinan’ (直男) in Chinese originally referred to ‘straight’ heterosexual males. But throughout the years, the word has derived in meaning, and instead of just pointing to sexual orientation, it has now come to refer to an entire category of men in China.

According to common stereotype, the zhinan generally lacks good taste in clothing. He tends to be chauvinistic (大男子主义) and has an almost excessive level of self-confidence. A more precise term that entails the negative connotations of zhinan is ‘zhinan ai’ (直男癌, ‘straight male cancer’), a term that has triggered many discussions on social media in recent years, where being a zhinan is compared to having a disease.

What exactly is zhinan ai? According to online question-and-answer platform Zhihu, these are some famous ‘zhinan‘ quotes:

 – “Giving birth is the born duty of women. Not doing so is anti-human.”
 – “A woman is not a complete human being if she is not married. Arguing against this is arguing against Darwin.”
 – “You, a woman, knows who Beckham is? You know about cars and politics? Tat, tat, you’re not a good woman.”

The zhinan stereotype can be traced back to some old beliefs rooted in China’s paternalistic society, where males are believed to be superior to women both in status and intelligence. In this view, marriage is believed to be essential to individual lives, with a strict division of labour; men are the breadwinners, dealing with the external world, while women take care of the household and the ‘inside’ world. As the supporting column (顶梁柱) of the family, men have absolute authority with what they say and what they do. According to this male stereotype, men are not supposed to spend too much attention on their looks – which is considered a women’s issue.

Traces of this male-dominated conception way can still be found everywhere in today’s China. A recent Xinhua article claimed that 40% of Chinese men show serious symptoms of zhinan ai.

More than just a laugh?

But along with China’s fast modernization, the social discourse on gender issues is also gradually changing. It has made the idea of the dominant and controlling pater familias outdated. Zhinan, in this sense, embodies this concept of the archaic view on gender dichotomy and male power.

Teasing your boyfriend by testing his knowledge on cosmetics can be just a laugh between lovers. But there is also a more serious message to guys underneath the game: sticking head-strong to a traditional male ideal and old-fashioned gender divisions does not make you more of a ‘real man’ in a romantic relationship in today’s China.

But not all Weibo netizens think the cosmetics test is representative of gender divisions. “I’m a girl, and I don’t understand cosmetics at all,” one commenter says.

– 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 Sex & Gender

Papi Jiang Receives Online Backlash for Giving Son Her Husband’s Surname

As a role model for female empowerment, Papi Jiang should not have given her child her husband’s last name, ‘feminists’ on Weibo say.

Manya Koetse

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An independent woman such as self-made superstar Papi Jiang should not have given her child her husband’s last name, Chinese self-proclaimed feminists say. The issue became top trending on Weibo this week.

China’s favorite online comedian and Weibo superstar Papi Jiang (papi酱) has received online backlash for giving her baby her husband’s surname.

The online controversy erupted on Mother’s Day, when Papi shared a photo of her and her baby on her Weibo account, that has some 33 million followers.

The Weibo post that became unexpectedly controversial, screenshot by What’s on Weibo before post was removed.

Papi Jiang (33) recently became a mum and wished all mothers a “Happy Mother’s Day” in her post, which addressed how being a mum is one of the most tiring tasks she has ever faced in her life. The internet celebrity also posted about suffering from mastitis (inflammation of the breast) while breastfeeding.

Underneath the post, Weibo users started a discussion on Papi Jiang being a mum and why such a successful self-made woman had opted to name her baby after her husband, instead of giving him her own surname.

Dozens of disappointed fans, internet trolls, and self-proclaimed feminists accused Papi of not being an “independent woman,” and some even suggested Papi was a “married donkey” (婚驴) for “blindly following the common rules of a patriarchal society.”

Papi Jiang (real name Jiang Yilei) is a Beijing Central Academy of Drama graduate who rose to online fame in 2015/2016 with her sharp and sarcastic videos that humorously address relevant topics in Chinese society.

She has been a highly successful as a career woman; since as early as 2016, companies offer millions to get Papi Jiang to promote their brand in one of her videos.

The comedian is often seen as an online role model for female empowerment; not just because of her economic success and independence, but also because her success is not based on her looks – which generally is the case with many female online influencers in China. Proudly identifying herself as a “leftover woman” in the early days of her rise to fame, and not afraid to use vulgar language, she was a breath of fresh air in China’s ‘Big V’ culture.

Papi once said that the most important person in the life of an independent woman is herself.

The vlogger already learned that fame can be a double-edged sword back in 2016, when she was targeted by online censors for spreading “vulgar language and content.”

This week, the controversy over the surname of Papi’s child temporarily became one of the most-searched hashtags on Weibo (#papi酱孩子随父姓引争议#), and some Chinese media outlets also reported the issue.

As per China’s Marriage Law of 1980, parents can give their child either the father’s or the mother’s surname. It is relatively unusual for parents to give their newborn the mother’s name, but there has been a recent rise in the number of babies to receive their mother’s surname.

Although Papi faced backlash for supposedly not being ‘independent’ for giving her child her own family name, many of Papi Jiang’s have come to her defense today. According to some Weibo commenters, the people who are criticizing her are “braindead single feminists” or “internet trolls projecting their own unhappiness onto Papi.”

At the time of writing, Papi Jiang’s Mother Day post and the one addressing her mastitis seem to have been removed.

By now, online discussions have also shifted to address what feminism actually is – and whether or not those attacking Papi over her child’s name are feminists or not.

“Some feminists on Weibo are truly ridiculous,” another person writes: “They talk about feminism all the time, but are quick to point their finger at women, what’s that about?”

“I am a real feminist,” one commenter writes: “The core of feminism is all about giving women the freedom to choose. This also means that women have the freedom to give their child the dad’s name.”

To read more about Chinese feminism, also see:
Liberal Writer Li Jingrui Angers Chinese Feminists: “Weaklings and Warriors Are Not Defined by Gender”
Is There No Chinese Feminism?

To read more about Papi Jiang, check out these articles.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
With contributions from Miranda Barnes
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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 Memes & Viral

IKEA China Masturbation Video Causes Consternation on Weibo

For some people, IKEA apparently feels a little too much like home.

Manya Koetse

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A video of a woman masturbating in an IKEA store in China has gone viral among Chinese social media users.

In the video, a woman is filmed while fondling herself within an IKEA store while regular customers are shopping in the background. The video is rumored to have been filmed at the store’s Guangzhou location.

In the 2-minute video that is making its rounds, the woman is first posing on an IKEA sofa – without any pants on – pleasuring herself while another person films her.

Another shot shows her masturbating on an IKEA bed with multiple customers passing by in the background, seemingly not noticing the woman’s behavior.

In a third scene, the woman continues to masturbate within one of the store’s showrooms.

Since the pornographic video has spread across Chinese social media like wildfire, IKEA China released a statement on its Weibo account on May 9th, in which it condemned the video.

The Swedish furniture company stated that it is “committed to providing home inspiration for the public” and strives to provide a “safe, comfortable, and healthy shopping experience and environment” for its customers. IKEA further writes it “firmly opposes and condemns” the video.

In 2015, a similar incident went trending on Chinese social media regarding a video of a naked girl and a man having sex in a fitting room at the Sanlitun location of Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo.

Because of the unlikely combination of a ‘sex video’ and ‘Uniqlo’, many people wondered at the time if the viral video was actually a secret marketing campaign meant to spice up the image of Uniqlo – something that was denied by the chain.

Later on, five people were arrested over the sex tape and the personal details of the woman in the video were revealed and shared by Chinese web users.

“This is the 2020 Uniqlo,” one commenter said about today’s IKEA controversy.

Although IKEA has filed a police report against the people involved in the making of the video that has now gone viral, the identities of the woman and her accomplice are not yet known or revealed at the time of writing.

Some netizens suggest the video was filmed some time ago – in the pre-COVID-19 era – since the people in the background are not wearing face masks.

The controversy has not made the IKEA brand any less popular on Chinese social media – on the contrary. On Weibo, thousands of web users have posted about the issue, with many flocking to the IKEA Weibo account to comment.

Underneath an IKEA post promoted with the brand’s slogan “Your Home, Your Way” – that now seems a bit dubious – people are leaving all sorts of comments about the video.

Although some people express anger over the woman’s vulgar behavior, there are also many people who seem to find the controversy somewhat amusing, and many others who want to know where they can find the video.

“I’m asking for a friend,” is one of the comments that is currently recurring the most in threads about the video.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
With contributions from Miranda Barnes
Follow @whatsonweibo

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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