Poverty shaming and skimpy dress shaming

Society & Culture
Credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

As China gradually gets back to school and work after COVID-19, two issues that frequently cause controversy on the Chinese internet made waves on social media last week: the difficulty of educating one’s children, and appropriate behavior on public transport and by public transport officials:

Parent poverty shaming in Shanghai

A prestigious private middle school in Shanghai drew online anger after publishing an article that asked parents to make sure they are rich enough — and educated enough — to enroll their children before applying.

The since-deleted article (in Chinese), from the middle school affiliated with No. 2 High School of East China Normal University posted on May 1, was titled “Sending your children to our school. Have you really thought it through?”

“Private education entails substantial costs. You need to think carefully about it,” said the article, also cautioning parents that they need to have the devotion and the educational level to join a “powerful community of parents,” who are able to teach a long list of extracurricular classes on subjects such as engineering, photography, and entrepreneurship.

On Chinese social media, the school’s article provoked a mix of indignation and debate about whether it’s reasonable for the school to have a condescending attitude toward low-income families and parents with a poor educational background.

Want to know more? Read all about it on SupChina.

Skimpy dress shaming in Hangzhou

In the city of Hangzhou, an hour away from Shanghai by high-speed train, a woman was refused entry at a subway station after her summer dress was deemed “too revealing.” The decision provoked an immediate backlash online after she shared her experience on social media.

It’s not the first time Chinese women have been told to dress modestly to not provoke male attention and avoid sexual harassment. Last year, a college in Jilin Province became the subject of intense criticism after enforcing a dress code that banned students from wearing skirts above the knees and sleeveless tops on campus. The idea that revealing clothing invites unwanted sexual advances is only one aspect of a larger victim-blaming culture that has existed for a long time in Chinese society, where many people believe that female modesty is an indicator of self-respect and the true reflection of one’s character.

Want to know more? Read all about it on SupChina.