The Chinese government believes that the country’s young men have become too “feminine.”
This was suggested by a recent message from the Chinese Ministry of Education that did not escape controversy.
The statement, published on the ministry’s website, was rated as sexist by many indeternet users, but some say that Chinese male celebrities are partly to blame.
The “Proposal for the Prevention of Feminization of Men and Adolescents” urges schools to completely reform their physical education offerings and strengthen the hiring of teachers.
The text advises recruiting retired athletes and people with sports backgrounds and “vigorously developing” particular sports such as soccer with the goal “cultivate the masculinity of students”.
The measure is promoted in a country where the media often show immaculate and “socially responsible” stars.
“Weak, shy and self-destructive”
There were some earlier signs in China that suggested such a move was coming.
Last May, a delegate from the government’s top advisory body, Si Zefu, said that many of China’s young men had become “weak, shy and self-destructive.”
He stated that there was a trend among young Chinese men towards “feminization”, which “It would inevitably endanger the survival and development of the Chinese nation” unless it was “effectively managed”.
The official said that the home environment was partly to blame, as most Chinese children are raised by their mothers or grandmothers.
He also noted that the growing appeal of certain male celebrities meant that many boys “no longer wanted to be ‘army heroes.’
So, he suggested that schools should play a bigger role in ensuring that young Chinese get a balanced education.
“What are men afraid of?”
The reaction of the public in China to the statement was overwhelming and most of the responses were negative.
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese expressed their anger on social media and many called the government’s message sexist.
“Is feminization now a derogatory term?“asked a Weibo user, receiving more than 200,000″ likes. ”
Another said: “Children are human too … being emotional, shy or kind, these are human characteristics.”
“What are men afraid of? Being equal to women?” asked a third.
“There are 70 million more men than women in this country,” said another. “No country in the world has such a distorted sex ratio. Isn’t that masculine enough?”
Another user highlighted: “None of these proposals have come from women.”
And they may be right. Much has been written previously about how China’s leadership is significantly dominated by men.
However, in some media, there was a positive reception of the measure. The Global Times newspaper noted that it had “gained some support.”
On the social media platform Sina Weibo, comments pointed to Chinese male celebrities being the culprits, especially those known as “little fresh meat” (小 鲜肉).
This is a buzzword that refers to youthsChinese who are seen as flawless, well groomed and with delicate features.
Music band TF Boys and Chinese singer Lu Han fall into this category, as do many K-pop stars.
While figures such as basketball player Yao Ming rose to fame abroad, it is notable that soccer is specifically included in the proposal.
That is not a surprise. President Xi has spoken in the past of his hopes that the country will become a “world soccer superpower” by 2050.
But repeated attempts to improve the level of China’s footballers have failed and even been mocked.
Two years ago Marcello Lippi, who led Italy to win the 2006 FIFA World Cup, resigned as coach of the Chinese national soccer team.
Meanwhile, the government has made efforts in recent months to introduce and promote new role models for young Chinese
When it comes to women, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a good opportunity to demonstrate the important role of women as frontline workers.
And China’s achievements in space last year were a great opportunity to promote figures like Zhou Chengyu, who became a viral sensation as a space commander at just 24 years old.
But as Si Zefu hinted last year, for young Chinese the appeal of being brave and strong soldiers, policemen or firefighters is diminishing.
The phenomenon of the“little fresh meat” is still a proven successBut young male celebrities are under increased scrutiny and find it difficult to be anything other than a flawless mold.
In recent years, the media has struggled to allow young male stars to appear on Chinese screens with tattoos or earrings.
And one of China’s top pop stars came under harsh criticism online in 2019 when he was photographed smoking.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.