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Chinese actor slammed for misogynist views in parenting book

Update: On April 30, Guo issued a statement (in Chinese) on Weibo apologizing for his “inappropriate remarks” in the book. “I want to say sorry to all the people who trusted me, friends who supported me, and the actresses I worked with,” he wrote. “I personally have no discrimination against women and I will try to make sure my actions are consistent with my words. I will respect women’s views and their professional choices.”

Chinese actor and filmmaker Guō Tāo 郭涛 has found himself in hot water after a number of sexist and misogynist views from his parenting book published in 2014 resurfaced on Chinese social media, resulting in outrage and speculation about his abusive behavior toward women in real life.

Titled The Power of Being a Father (父亲的力量 fùqīn de lìliàng), the book was marketed as a combination of Guo’s personal account of how he raised his son and his views on parenting. But in several chapters throughout the book, Guo also reflected on his past relationships and history with women. And that’s where things got messy.

There are a few parts in particular that have drawn a great deal of ire from critics. They include but are not limited to the following:

On the reason why he ended up marrying a non-famous woman instead of an actress

Before I met my current wife, I sometimes envisioned marrying a beautiful actress and making her a housewife. But now I’m glad that I didn’t do that because they were like time bombs that could explode at any moment. Aging is inevitable, but these actresses are more likely to cheat in marriage. When I’m at work, who knows what they would be doing at home? Obviously I’m not saying all actresses are like this, but I can’t afford to take the risk as someone who’s sensitive in a relationship.

On what he likes the most about his wife

When it comes to showing filial piety to the elderly and raising successful kids, my partner has the traditional female virtues promoted in Chinese culture. I use five criteria to judge women. They are gentleness, kindness, good manners, frugality, and forbearance. My wife has all of them.

On the first time he slapped a woman in the face during a dispute

Until now, I don’t have a clear idea of why I did that. One thing I’m sure of is that I didn’t do that on purpose. I was driven by the desire to stop her from making a scene in public. In fact, I think women know it when your patience is wearing thin. If you don’t draw some lines, they will keep testing your boundaries. When you give them an ultimatum, they will immediately behave themselves.

On the Chinese internet, reactions toward these statements have been overwhelmingly negative. “So physically abusing women and emotionally manipulating them is how he demonstrates his power as a father?” a Weibo user ridiculed (in Chinese). Some also raised questions about Guo’s credibility as a parenting expert, arguing that judging from the book itself and other interviews of Guo in the past, his wife was the one who handled most domestic chores and childcare. “Guo barely did any work around the house, but he got most of the credit for parenting just because he wrote a book?” a Weibo user commented (in Chinese).

Some people also took issue with a list of celebrities who endorsed the book, criticizing them for supporting Guo’s old-fashioned and stereotypical views about women and gender roles. “I’m repulsed by the fact that the book was recommended by some actresses. Did they even read the book?” commented another.

Still others pointed out that thanks to the growing awareness of women’s rights and gender inequality in Chinese society, sexist and misogynist remarks by public figures were being called out more quickly than ever. “He probably didn’t foresee the change of times when he wrote the book. His sexist statements didn’t cause any trouble for him back then, but they came back to haunt him in this age of female empowerment,” a Weibo user wrote.

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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

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