China wants to create masculinity courses for boys in response to changing gender roles.
In January, China’s Education Ministry published plans to “cultivate masculinity” in boys from kindergarten through high school. The initiative involves hiring and training more gym teachers, testing students more comprehensively in physical education, making health education compulsory, and supporting research into issues like the “influence of the phenomenon of internet celebrities on adolescents’ values,” the ministry stated, according to NBC.
But advocates in the country feel the move is working against equality and perpetuating gender stereotypes. “Boys don’t need masculinity education,” said Lü Pin, the founder of China’s largest feminist advocacy media channel, Feminist Voices.
“The concept of masculinity forces every man to be tough, which excludes and harms men with other types of characteristics,” she said. “It also reinforces men’s hegemony, control, and position over women, which goes against gender equality.” Chinese censors banned Feminist Voices back in 2018.
The plan’s announcement comes after China’s political advisers claimed the nation was going through a “masculinity crisis.” “Chinese boys have been spoiled by housewives and female teachers,” the adviser, Si Zefu, said in a policy proposal back in May, NBC reports. Boys would soon become “delicate, timid and effeminate” unless action was taken, he said. Zefu went on to say that the “feminization” of Chinese boys “threatens China’s survival and development.”