Mansplaining with Chinese Characteristics

From cradle to crèche, women are constantly being told what to do

Although China has advocated gender equality for decades, the patriarchy is still alive and well. Being a woman in today’s society is tough—during each stage of a woman’s life, she will be instructed on what decisions to make, to be a perfectly well-behaved “好好小姐” (Ms. Hao Hao). She is also more likely to be judged by her gender instead of her personality or achievements.

For many, sexism begins at conception, when parents try to divine the gender of the fetus in creative ways (doctors are not allowed to reveal this information, to prevent gender-selective abortions.) After the birth, people may be quick to offer opinions to her parents—even if nobody explicitly says, “I am sorry you had a girl,” their attitudes are unmistakable:

A daughter will bring you less trouble than a son. At least you don’t need to save money to buy her a marital home in the future.

Shēng nǚ’ér bǐ shēng érzi shěngxīn, zhìshǎo nǐ búyòng zǎnqián gěi tā mǎi hūnfáng le.


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Mansplaining with Chinese Characteristics is a story from our issue, “The Masculinity Issue.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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