Those in the middle of the spectrum said that to find a middle ground, a line must eventually be drawn. “When puberty hits and boys start becoming sexually aware, that’s when they should be prohibited from entering ladies’ locker rooms,” an internet user suggested (in Chinese). Others pointed out that the root of the issue was a lack of family changing rooms in public places like fitness facilities and malls. “No boys are allowed in the female locker room in my local pool, and when they arrive with their mothers, some male employees at the facility always offer to accompany them on their trips to the men’s locker room. I think that’s a viable solution,” another commenter wrote (in Chinese).
In an interview (in Chinese) with Sanlian Life Week magazine, Liú Wénlì 刘文利, a professor at Beijing Normal University and an expert in health and sex education, called for more attention on respecting children’s opinions and teaching them how to respect other people’s privacy. “In this scenario, if others in the female changing rooms start to make disapproving comments and looks, parents should apologize and make sure their children are not embarrassed,” Liu said. “Meanwhile, adults should have more tolerance and understanding. After all, these boys are young and they don’t have ill intentions.”
This debate followed hot on the heels of a high-profile dispute last month between a female shopper and a women’s apparel retailer over an incident in its store in Beijing, where a seven-year-old boy broke into a fitting room when she was trying on clothes. As she tried to confront the boy’s mother, the woman said that the store’s employees stopped her and took the parent’s side, accusing her of overreacting. “None of the employees saw me as a ‘victim’ and showed any empathy towards me. The way they handled the situation made me feel like I was the bad guy who was making a fuss out of nothing,” she wrote (in Chinese) in a Weibo post, which so far has received nearly 200,000 likes. In the face of a backlash, the company later apologized (in Chinese) to the customer on Weibo, saying that it had punished the employees involved and would improve security of its fitting rooms.