Zhang Lijia at the BBC

Morality classes are popping up all over the country, teaching past traditional attitudes towards women, warns author Zhang Lijia in an opinion piece in The South China Morning Post who signals a backlash towards banned feudal behavior. The government steps in when those excesses are discovered, but it remains unclear what stays under the radar, Zhang adds.

The South China Morning Post:

Premarital sex is commonplace and prostitution, wiped out by the communists in the 1950s, has returned as a major industry. Sexually transmitted diseases, crime and divorce rates have all rocketed. Some lay the blame on the so-called Western decadent lifestyle.

As a result, morality classes targeting women have sprung up across China. In May 2017, for example, during a lecture on traditional culture at Jiujiang University College in southeastern Jiangxi province, senior lecturer Ding Xuan preached on chastity, claiming that “a woman’s best dowry is her virginity”

She also cautioned against casual sex, claiming that the sperm of three men, when mixed together, formed a potent poison that could cause cervical cancer.

Later that year, footage was leaked of classes at the Fushun Traditional Culture School in northeastern Liaoning province, where women were taught to scrub floors, bow to their husbands, never seek divorce and never fight back if beaten by their husbands.

In August, a summer camp in Wenzhou, in southeastern Zhejiang province, meant to promote traditional culture and kinship, taught that “men are heaven and women the earth”, adding that women, being inferior, should stay at the bottom.

These cases were met with sharp criticism and the authorities shut down the Wenzhou camp. But no one knows just how many more “female virtue” classes are being held throughout China. They tend to pop up in small towns and wear the cloak of promoting traditional culture.

More in the South China Morning Post.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you looking for more experts on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

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