WeiWatch, May 16-23

The buzz on the Chinese internet in the past seven days.

In Chinese, wei (微 wēi) means “micro,” as in microblogging (微博 wēibó) or short-form messaging (微信 wēixìn). These are also the names of China’s two largest online social networks: Weibo (a microblog somewhere between Twitter and Facebook in style) and WeChat (the world’s most popular social and messaging app, known in Chinese as weixin).

In WeiWatch, we round up the most-talked-about topics on Chinese social media platforms, including Weibo, WeChat, Toutiao, and whatever will be big in China next.

If you like this feature, we’ll do it weekly. Please send feedback to jiayun@supchina.com or to editors@supchina.com.

Does virginity still matter?

Ding Xuan 丁璇, a lecturer from China Women’s Development Foundation, a government-owned nonprofit organization, sparked a controversy on Weibo (in Chinese) last week when she delivered a speech to college students in Jiangxi Province that urged women to hold on to their virginity before marriage. Her key points included:

  • A woman’s best dowry is her virginity.
  • Showing too much skin is a sign of vulgarity. It not only invites slanderous gossip, but also causes diseases, misfortunes, unexpected financial ruin, as well as loss of virginity.
  • It is an insult to our ancestors if our bodies, which our parents have taken good care of, are abused by many men like dirty rags.

Ding has been giving speeches about feminine virtues across the country for years — for example, this speech posted to Weibo (in Chinese), which includes these nuggets of moralism:

  • Non-virgins are no different than prostitutes.
  • Some women get plastic surgeries in order to seduce men.

Internet users bashed Ding by calling (in Chinese) the values she holds “retrograde” and “feudalistic.” One Weibo commenter wrote, “What time are we living in? I thought the Qing dynasty was dead. Am I wrong?” Several days after the backlash, Ding responded (in Chinese), “I was saying those things for women’s good.”

No same-sex marriage at Shanghai ‘marriage market’

On May 20, a group of mothers of gay sons and daughters showed up at People’s Park in Shanghai, a local well-known matchmaking place, to raise awareness of LGBT rights by advertising their offspring on rainbow-colored umbrellas. However, they were forced to leave after a fierce confrontation with parents of heterosexual children and security personnel.

“If parents of straight people can be here to find potential partners for their children, why we are not allowed to be here,” one of these mothers told (in Chinese) the angry crowd. “I am entitled to be here to find a boyfriend for my gay son.” Severely outnumbered by the parents from the other side, the group of mothers quickly found themselves in a barrage of reprimand. “LGBT issues should never be discussed publicly. Their choices are wrong. They disobey Chinese traditional values,” one parent criticized. “Those people are brain damaged.”

Online, the news gained much attention (in Chinese), especially from the LGBT circle. “We don’t need others’ pity, but please respect us, just like we respect every straight person,” one Weibo commenter wrote.

Celebrity GMO critic: Pay premium for my products

Cui Yongyuan 崔永元, a former CCTV anchor, opened an online store recently in which only nongenetically modified food is available. The store started to generate discussion (in Chinese) this week for selling food priced five times higher than similar products with no discernible quality increase. In response to online criticism, Cui posted (in Chinese) on his Weibo account, “Our food’s quality is by no means lower than that exclusively offered to government officials by the Ministry of Agriculture.” As to the price, Cui wrote, “I will increase the price if you guys keep making a fuss about it. I mean it.”

Cui has been protesting against GMO for years. In a recent Weibo post, he stated, “The spread of GMO in China threatens the safety of the whole country.” In the same post, Cui tagged several big-name media organizations such as People’s Daily and Xinhua, saying, “Those mainstream media pretend to be ignorant of this fact.”