Women Students Can Skip Morning Classes to Primp, Says Professor

April 16, 2013
By Liang Shuang, Chen Yanhua, and Wu ChaominEditor: Sun Xi

An associate professor said in his class that women should be allowed to ditch the first class of the morning to apply make-up. [gmw.cn]

An associate professor said in his class that women should be allowed to ditch the first class of the morning to apply make-up. [gmw.cn]

"Girls should have plenty of time to dress themselves. They should be allowed to primp themselves and apply make-up from 7 to 9 in the morning and catch up with the second class starting at 10. This way, the boys will find more motivation to study," He Guangshun, associate professor at the Chinese Language and Culture College, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, told at one of his classes recently. Unsurprisingly, the controversial statement has sparked a raging online debate about gender discrimination.

On March 13, 2013, He happened to see many of his female students rushing into his class after the bell had rung, with their breakfasts in hand. He said, "It is cruel to require girls to attend classes which start at 8:30 in the morning. They should have ample time to dress themselves up......"

Later he posted the statement on his Weibo, China's version of Twitter, and it was widely forwarded by the university's students. Most of them were in support of it and some hoped that the university would seriously consider implementing such a rule, both for the benefit of women students and also as a way of making the university stand out.

Shortly after, Associate Professor Ke Qianting from the Chinese Department of Sun Yat-Sen University forwarded the post, with some of her own comments on gender awareness and female identity. Ke's comment immediately attracted many other feminists.

On the same day, feminist Li Sipan denounced He's remarks as verbal gender discrimination and sexual harassment towards women students. She requested that he delete his post and apologize to the women students in his class, threatening to call for protests and drive him out of his job.

Despite this, He insisted on upholding his opinion and said that he had not intended for it to be discriminatory. On the contrary, he was trying to relieve the pressure on women students.

In his view, modern women shoulder just as much burden as men, but have less time to take care of themselves. If universities could cancel the first class of the day or arrange courses related to women, like make-up classes, He believes that it will help ease the burden on women students.

"The reason my post sparked such controversy is because of that last sentence about boy students but I was just joking. And the students also forwarded the post for fun. But some people who don't know me might misunderstand it," he said.

His student, Yang Wenqi, confirmed that the students responded with a laugh to He's remarks in class and the atmosphere was relaxed. Another student called Lai said, "These feminists request that Teacher He apologize to the women students in class. The problem is that they didn't feel any discrimination or sexual harassment. How can you 'force' them to feel harassed?"

In response, Ke said that applying make-up or investing too much in physical beauty can be seen as capitalist ideology. "I think that women students and their parents would not agree that women should apply make-up to provide motivation to male students."

"The protection of women's rights means that women should be able to freely express themselves. Wearing make-up or deciding what course to take - these are all decisions that they should be free to make. Women don't have to play the role of 'good wife and mother' or be attractive to fulfill other people's expectations. It is against the nature of gender consciousness," she said.

She added that it is largely the result of social constraints and construct that women want to use their beauty to influence men and that most women want to be accepted in society because of their impressive personality, talent, achievement or demeanor

The incident has certainly occasioned lots of comments from netizens. Netizen 'M0sy' joked, "Why don't we cancel them all? The afternoon classes make us feel sleepy and the evening ones are tiring."

Netizen 'Feiqishao' suggests that male students use that time to clean themselves up, change their shirts, do something to cover their facial defects, and dress up in suits so that they too can inspire the girls.

Netizen 'Mr-zeroing' said that it is indeed discriminative - to male students. "Why can't boys skip morning classes too? It is not fair."

Netizen 'Huoxinlaide Kourouhexiaoti' said: "I didn't feel that the post was offensive. On the contrary, I think the teacher is funny. We shouldn't use the rights of one group to suppress the rights of another."

(Source: Yangcheng Evening News/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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