Inkstone
    Mar
    07
    2018
    Mar
    07
    2018
    Girls’ Day stirs sexism debate
    Girls’ Day stirs sexism debate
    SOCIETY

    Girls’ Day stirs sexism debate

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    by
    Viola Zhou
    Viola Zhou
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    Tomorrow is International Women’s Day – and you'd better believe Inkstone will mark the occasion. 

    But many Chinese people would rather celebrate Girls’ Day, which is today. 

    Why? Because they don't want to be called "women" – they say it sounds old. 

    Girls' Day, or Nusheng Jie in Mandarin, first became popular in Chinese universities in 2010. 

    Group 5
    Subject: love you; grade: 4.0.
    -
    Tsinghua University banner
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    Fans of the concept say nu sheng – literally “female students” in Chinese – is preferable to fu nu, or “women,” which refers to older, married women. 

    Traditionally, on Girls’ Day, college boys put up red banners and sing the praises of their female peers.

    Walking around Chinese campuses on March 7, you'll see red banners everywhere, with creative slogans describing college girls as smart and pretty. 

    The wording is often flirty and conforms to the stereotype that women are protected by men. 

    This year, Beijing's elite Tsinghua University has seen banners reading “Four years is too short, let us take care of you for life” and “Subject: love you; grade: 4.0.”

    Students at the elite Tsinghua University put up a banner that says 'Four years is too short, let us take care of you for life.'
    Students at the elite Tsinghua University put up a banner that says 'Four years is too short, let us take care of you for life.'

    Students of Marxist philosophy at Beijing Normal University put up a banner that reads: “You could have made a living with your pretty face, but you still choose to study Marxism-Leninism diligently.”

    Feminist advocates in China are increasingly attacking the banners, and the entire concept of Girls’ Day, for promoting discrimination and male superiority. 

    In 2016, feminist group Women Awakening launched a social media campaign titled “Say no to March 7, celebrate March 8,” calling on women to focus on gender equality. 

    Lu Manman, an editor at Beijing-based advocacy group Feminist Voices, says she refuses to celebrate Girls’ Day because it feeds a stigma against older women. 

    “There is fear of ageing in our popular culture,” Lu says. “Women who have gotten married and given birth are dismissed as sexually unattractive.” 

    “By referring to women as girls, society is also telling women they are supposed to stay young and spoiled instead of growing up and becoming independent.” 

    But the concept has continued to gain traction, especially with the participation of businesses eyeing young women’s spending power. 

    Burger King changed its Weibo profile picture to 'Burger Queen' ahead of China's Girls' Day and International Women's Day.
    Burger King changed its Weibo profile picture to 'Burger Queen' ahead of China's Girls' Day and International Women's Day.

    The topic trended on the Twitter-like platform Weibo, with more than 440 million views by midday Wednesday. 

    Cosmetics makers, clothing brands and fast-food chains have all pitched in on social media to celebrate Girls’ Day.

    VIOLA ZHOU
    VIOLA ZHOU
    Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. Previously, she wrote about Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

    VIOLA ZHOU
    VIOLA ZHOU
    Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. Previously, she wrote about Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

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