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'Female Virtue Schools' Gain Popularity in China, Spark Controversy

Popularity 1Viewed 1587 times 2014-9-24 08:55 |System category:Others| China

In recent years, in the name of advocating traditional Chinese culture, a trend has sprung up for "Female Virtue Schools." According to statistics, there are such schools in Beijing and the Shandong, Hebei, Shaanxi, Guangdong and Hainan provinces  – practically all over China.

What is this so called the female virtue? And why has this anachronistic kind of teaching returned to our society?

Media recently reported that the core values in "Female Virtue Teaching" are things like: "No talking back to your husband, always be submissive, never divorce". These teachings are conducted under the name of family harmony, but many would argue it is simple "brainwashing" and "denial of women's personality". The controversial "Female Virtue Schools" have inevitably caused great concern in the community.

In Mengzheng Female Virtue School in Dongguan in south China's Guangdong Province, the first lesson is to help their female students to understand what women's obligations are within seven days. In Mengzheng, all female students will learn the four basic principles by heart, which is no fighting back, no talking back, be submissive and never ever get a divorce. It is also stressed in Mengzheng that if a woman ever wants to be successful and independent, then she needs to get rid of her uterus, cut off her breasts and give up everything which make her a woman.

Curator Huang Cheng in Mengzheng interpreted female virtues into three levels: the girl virtue, wife virtue and the old lady virtue. Students are here to take seven-day closed training, with free accommodation and diets, early morning exercises every day, and courses that are arranged early in the evening.

Currently, these schools have attracted women from different age groups; the oldest students are over 70 years old.

There is one training course in Mengzheng in particular that has caused great controversy after being widely reported on by the media. Mengzheng invited a lecturer called Song Yuping, who is famous for treating diseases through his "healing hands". Song told students that all their diseases are caused by disobedience to husbands and parents. Some truly believed Song's wildly outrageous, shamefully pseudo-scientific words, yet other students remain skeptical about it.

Virtue is also reflected in the school's apprentice ceremony, where women must kowtow and bow when necessary. Apprenticeship marks the trainees’ official "entry."

To carry forward traditional culture is certainly right, but traditional culture is complicated and not everything traditional is necessarily good or deserves of promotion. There are no standards regulating these "Female Virtue Schools" and their teaching content has not been approved or monitored by anyone.

Chinese Women's Research Network Deputy Director Du Jie said that though there was not a very extensive empirical research, "Female Virtue Schools" have a common characteristic, which is, they force on their students propaganda for women to comply with some aspects of traditional morality, to obey their husbands and parents. It violates the principle of equality in our socialist core value system.

Columnist Ye Kefei said that the "Female Virtue Schools" in Dongguan stressed that women's diseases come from disobedience and once they obey their husbands they are cured, this kind of teaching is no different to a cult.


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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