New Chinese anti-gendercide poster — translated

For several months, Qingdao has been flooded with propaganda posters and billboards relating to the ongoing “sanitation” 卫生 campaign, encompassing everything from tidying up (or clearing off) street markets and sidewalk BBQs to promoting food safety and healthy eating habits.

But here’s one new anti-gendercide poster from our neighbourhood bulletin board that I hadn’t seen before today, from the “Qingdao City Sanitation, Harmoniousness and Family Planning Committee” (text and overly-literal translation below):


Zònghé zhìlǐ chūshēng rénkǒu xìngbié bǐ huá fù zhī gēn
Comprehensively managing the birth population sex ratio is the ROOT of China’s restoration.

  • 出生人口性别比是关于中华民族繁衍生息,盛衰兴败大事。
    chūshēng rénkǒu xìngbié bǐ shì guānyú zhōnghuá mínzú fányǎn shēngxī, shèngshuāi xìng bài dàshì
    Birth population sex ratio concerns the Chinese people’s propagation; it’s a matter of prosperity or decline, flourishing or withering.
  • 出生人口性别比,是指一定地域人口某一时期(通常一年)内出生的男婴总数与女婴总数的比值,用100名出生女婴数相对应的出生男婴数表示。正常范围是每出生100名女婴,男婴出生数在103-107名之间。
    Chūshēng rénkǒu xìngbié bǐ, shì zhǐ yīdìng dìyù rénkǒu mǒu yī shíqí (tōngcháng yī nián) nèi chūshēng de nán yīng zǒngshù yǔ nǚ yīng zǒng shǔ de bǐzhí, yòng 100 míng chūshēng nǚ yīng shù xiāng duìyìng de chūshēng nán yīng shù biǎoshì. Zhèngcháng fànwéi shì měi chūshēng 100 míng nǚ yīng, nán yīng chūshēng shù zài 103-107 míng zhī jiān.
    Birth population sex ratio refers to the population ratio of total male babies born to total female babies born within a certain time period (usually one year), and is expressed using the figure of 100 female babies born to correspond to the number of male babies born. The normal range is within 103-107 male babies born for every 100 female babies born.
  • 如果出生人口性别比持续超出正常比列范围,将导致人口性别结构失衡,对将来的婚姻和家庭形成冲击,进而影响社会稳定与和谐。
    RúguÇ’ chÅ«shÄ“ng rénkÇ’u xìngbié bǐ chíxù chāochÅ« zhèngcháng bǐ liè fànwéi, jiāng dÇŽozhì rénkÇ’u xìngbié jiégòu shÄ«héng, duì jiānglái de hÅ«nyÄ«n hé jiātíng xíngchéng chōngjí, jìn’ér yǐngxiÇŽng shèhuì wÄ›ndìng yÇ” héxié.
    If the birth population sex ratio continues to exceed normal parameters, this will lead to population sex composition unbalance, seriously affecting the future formation of marriage and family, and from that influence social stability and harmoniousness.

zhuǎnbiàn jiù de shēngyù guānniàn, ràng quán shèhuì bù zài yǒu xìngbié qíshì
Transform the old childbearing notions, make the whole society no longer have gender discrimination.

男女平等 家庭幸福 社会和谐
nánnǚ píngděng jiātíng xìngfú shèhuì héxié
Male-female equality, family happiness, societal harmony

Qīngdǎo shì wèishēng héxié jìhuà shēngyù wěiyuánhuì
Qingdao City Health, Harmoniousness and Family Planning Committee

* * * * *

The background of the poster has an iconic Qingdao landmark (May 4th Square) and the Chinese character 女 in various styles.

leftoverwomenBooks like Leftover Women: the Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China by Leta Hong Fincher demonstrate that social stability is the government’s priority, and authorities willingly exacerbate gender inequality in pursuit of that goal, particularly through the promotion of the “leftover women” concept, which is designed to push “high-quality” women out of the workplace and into the nursery. From their perspective, skewed gender ratios and a large population of hopeless bachelors threaten social stability; gender inequality per se, not so much.

There’s lots more on this blog about gendercide.

The Berenstain Bears & their Chinese Neighbours

Of course we have a bunch of Berenstain Bears books, which are full of quaint life lessons (Bully trouble at school? Learn self-defense and punch her in the face!), and feature the usually-wrong-but-never-in-doubt clueless man-child dad trope, which had a satirical purpose once a upon time in a galaxy far far away, as the foil for the unfailingly patient and composed Mama Bear, who gently directs the show from backstage with an endless reservoir of commonsense wisdom, propriety, and savvy wifely interventions. Still, we loved them as kids and our kids love them now (though I did permanently shelve one of the religious ones).

Turns out there are tons of new ones (“new” as in, written after I graduated from primary school, once upon a time in a galaxy far far etc.), and our Chinese preschool library even has some. This one would have made me laugh even if we’d never moved to China but it’s extra funny here, where we’re the foreign neighbours. The Bear family gets some Chinese Panda neighbours! And apparently Papa Bear has gone from picnic spots to prejudice!

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 0
So suspicious Papa Bear! Just because they’re short and their fur is different and they like to wear matching outfits… don’t you know that’s just how they do in China Pandaland?

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 02
“What do they think they’re doing? They’re not actually moving in, are they??”

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 03
“Putting up a fence? Who puts up a fence?? Bad people who have something to hide, that’s who!”

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 04
Well, thank goodness for bamboo juice and travel stories. (Just nobody tell Papa that pandas aren’t actually bears…)

Here’s some fun we’ve had as the foreign neighbours in China:

How to scandalize your Chinese neighbours: Evil stepmother edition

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences publishes the latest and most negative data on sex-selective abortion in China

From: A Study of Sex Selective Abortion in China
“Today, almost 20% of the pregnancies that happen in China are manipulated using the simple method of ultrasound scan to determine gender, followed by abortion in case it is a female.
“This shows that sex selective abortion is not a minority problem practiced by a few rogue parents. It is a very common occurrence, with large parts of the population and the health sector taking part in it. In spite of the illegalization of ultrasound scans for sex detection in the 90s, it is obvious that a large part of the doctors are colluding with the public to ignore the law. In short, in most parts of China practicing sex selective abortion is extremely easy and extremely common. Practically anyone can do it.”


Woman, man, or East Asian pop star?

I was babysitting ESL study block at my old high school yesterday morning when I saw the desktop background on a Chinese student’s Acer Netbook.

“Is that a girl?” I asked.

The student, a teenager from Guangdong, looked slightly shocked and annoyed. “No! Of course not!”

“Are you sure?” I smiled and she and her friends knew I was just joking. But honestly, I was only half-joking. Here’s the photo:

It’s Korean pop star 金范, but I don’t know his Korean name.

Sometimes my northern Chinese friends mention how they think southern Chinese males, especially Taiwanese, are too feminine. They laugh at the way they talk and they way they look. Sometimes they say that Western (white) women are too masculine. I had an American co-worker in Tianjin who smoked, and she was constantly told that this made her too masculine.

Now, I’m not saying men can’t 打扮打扮 if they want. But I’d be lying if I pretended that young urban Chinese masculinity ideals — or at least Chinese pop media masculinity ideals — don’t sometimes appear a little feminine to my Western sensibilities. And the women, at least the young and trendy relatively privileged urban ones and their pop culture role models, seem like they’re trying to embody an extreme femininity: anemic, weak, passive, desperately in need of a male’s strength and assertiveness (there’s even a term related to this: “little birdie leaning on a man”/小鸟依人). It’s like gender identity in general plays out a little more toward the feminine side of the scale in China.

Westerners have been getting this impression for generations, as have the Chinese themselves (“feminine” is one of many adjectives Lin Yutang uses to describe Chinese masculinity). There are lots of reasons why Chinese and Westerners perceive each other as too masculine or too feminine — some of it’s biological, but a lot of it’s cultural. And this post is really only talking about the thin slice of Chinese society that foreigners interact with the most: the urban, educated, relatively privileged with enough disposable income to enjoy a consumerist lifestyle. (If foreigners in China spent most of their day-to-day lives with peasants, I wonder how our gender impressions might be different.)

Ever since my first major cross-cultural experiences in rural Uganda and Tanzania, where my language teacher and new friends explained in all sincerity that fat women are more attractive than skinny women, and then laughed so hard (once they got over their disbelief) when we told them that in America it’s the opposite, I’ve been aware that a lot of the specifics of what we “naturally” find attractive (fat/thin, dark/pale, tall/short, muscular/weak, smooth/scruffy, manicured/”man-hands,” etc.) have a lot to do with the families and cultures we grow up in.

Other posts about Chinese/Western beauty ideals: