A bedroom for the sons, but not the daughter – China society and culture news from April 26, 2017

Society & Culture

A summary of today’s top news in Chinese society and culture. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Cross toppler to head China’s police?"

A family from the southern city of Shenzhen with quadruplet sons and an older daughter is under fire this week for showing undisguised gender discrimination on an episode of A Warm New Home (暖暖的新家 nuǎnnuǎn de xīnjiā), a home improvement show on Beijing TV. In the episode (on YouTube here), the parents talk about their hopes of accommodating seven members of their family in their 645-square-foot (60-square-meter) apartment. With help from interior designers, their apartment layout is rearranged in a way that grants everyone more space — except for the older daughter. Instead of having her own room, she gets what Sixth Tone calls “a makeshift bedroom hidden in the kitchen.”

It’s not just the living arrangements that are unfair: When the daughter first appears on the show, she is described as an “uninvited guest” (不速之客 bú sù zhī kè) by a voice-over. When the whole family is shown having dinner together, she asks her mother where she should sit but does not get a reply — she ends up eating standing up, while the rest of her family is seated.

On the Chinese social media platform Weibo, there has been a barrage of criticism of the family. “I’ve never seen a family that makes me this upset. I feel so bad for the sister,” one Weibo user wrote (in Chinese). The interior designer was also criticized, and he took to Weibo to defend himself, saying, “To design for such a family, we have to do it with a forward-looking vision. Adjustments will be made as kids grow up. We can’t exclude the possibility of the sister’s moving out in the future.” He later deleted the comment (screenshot here), which was ridiculed by internet users. One commenter wrote (in Chinese), “Why didn’t you design coffins for the family, since you are so forward-looking?”