Chinese plan to boost boys’ ‘masculinity’ with physical education classes draws criticism

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A plan in China to get boys to play more sports in order to make them more manly has reopened a debate between those who advocate more diversity and those who support a more masculine society.

The Ministry of Education has announced plans to increase the number of physical education teachers and reorganize gymnastics classes to strengthen the “masculinity” of students.

The plan followed a proposal last May by a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a government advisory body, calling for help for boys who have become too delicate, shy and effeminate after being educated mainly by female teachers, says the ministry.

A hashtag on the ministry’s plan recorded 1.5 billion views on the Weibo social media platform on Wednesday.

“It’s hard to imagine such effeminate boys being able to defend their country when an outside invasion looms,” said one Weibo user.

Like most Asian countries, China has a traditional fondness for sons, and decades of one-child policies have led to what some people see as a tendency for parents to pamper their boys.

But the idea of ​​getting boys to toughen up through physical activity has gained traction in recent years.

Some well-to-do parents, fearing that their sons are too fragile, send them to private training camps that promise to turn them into “real” men through military-style exercises.

Feminist scholar Li Jun said the ministry’s plan reflected traditional attitudes towards the sexes.

“The proposal has represented some stereotypes in China about male masculinity, which runs counter to gender equality and diversity, as it considers being effeminate to be negative and dangerous while masculinity is useful for women. Chinese nation, ”Li told Reuters.

Yang Li, 25, a Beijing-based marketing manager, said the plan could lead to more intimidation. Yang said he was once reprimanded by a teacher for walking his schoolyard like a model on a catwalk.

State media, trying to calm the debate, released reports this week saying certain temperaments and characteristics should not be associated with either sex.

The Xinhua News Agency, citing experts, developing “masculinity” should not be about emphasizing gender differences, but developing a healthy physique and inner strength.

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