Sorghum worship, misogyny for minors, child abduction hoax, a pregnancy labor dispute, and the price for raising a god—it’s Viral Week
Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about. Think of it as an antidote to subzero temperatures but no snow.
This week, a divine sorghum plant dies, a pregnant woman is hounded out of work, there’s a child abduction hoax, while a father pays to raise a reincarnated god. But first…
Misogyny for minors
“Female virtue” classes are nothing new—the infamous Fushun School of of Traditional Culture was shut down only a year ago—but a video from similar course, this time for girls aged 5 to 18, has gone viral under the hashtag “Female Virtue Classes for Minors.” Supposedly, the classes were advertised as a “parent-child summer camp” in August by the Wenzhou Traditional Culture Promotion Association, so it’s not clear whether parents were aware they included instructions like “women should not fight back or get a divorce if beaten by their husbands,” or photos of a diseased foot, purportedly belonging to a girl who changed boyfriends too often.
Speaking of sexist clips going viral, a female Shanghai matchmaker is being scolded for urging women to marry while in university, instead of losing out on their prime childbearing years by worrying about education. Both this ayi and the Wenzhou course are getting a tongue-lashing online, though no other response has been reported.
Police have pulled down a 5.7-meter sorghum stalk in Heze, Shandong province, after the outstanding plant was dubbed a “deity” by local worshipers, who have set off firecrackers, burned incense, offered money, and kowtowed to have their prayers answered by the cereal god.
Additionally, police arrested a Mr. Wang, who made off with the donations, and are dissuading the pious from returning to worship at the stump. Though this sorghum was twice the average height for the plant, a researcher told The Paper that it’s not impossible for sorghum to grow this tall under favorable conditions.
The god that failed
“Super kids” are the latest fad in Chinese education, with parents going to great expense to encourage their child—just ask one Mr. Guo of Beijing, who was swindled out of 36 million RMB while trying to raise his son as a “reincarnated god.”
The con began in 2012, when Guo attended a talk by Wei Xikun, a self-proclaimed education consultant who “cultivates great personages who influence history.” In 2014, Wei proclaimed Guo’s third child to be the reincarnation of either the God of Fortune or a “religious prophet who will one day rule the world,” but only if the parents bought ivory paper-cutters and other precious artifacts to unlock the boy’s latent talents.
Wei has now been sentenced to life in prison, while netizens are wondering how such a gullible family managed to make so much money in the first place.
Women can have it tough in the modern labor market—especially if they get pregnant. Take the tale of 36-year-old Chen Xin, who was asked to resign when word leaked she was with child. Chen refused, as was her legal right, and the company began a campaign of dirty tricks, at one point removing the chair from her desk. After a victorious lawsuit, the interior designer returned to work, only to find she had been reassigned to a cold, bleak construction site with barely any amenities or basic comforts.
Despite the indignities she was made to suffer, public opinion was split, with a significant number of voices complaining that Chen should not have got knocked up in the first place, nor so soon: one said that companies “feel helpless when its employees get pregnant only three months.”
A case of a missing 11-year-old, which inspired a city-wide hunt in Yueqing, Zhejiang province, has been revealed to be a bizarre hoax: Huang Zhengbao, who was reported missing on November 30, was purposely hidden by his mother to test the devotion of Huang’s absentee father (it seemed to have worked, as Huang’s father went on social media to offer a 500,000 RMB reward for finding the boy).
Originally claiming the boy never returned home from school, the mother now admits she stashed the boy in a safe house nearby, where he was found, alive and well, on December 5. The mother is now in police custody for spreading false information, and relief at the boy’s safety quickly turned to annoyance at his mother’s dishonesty: