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When she turned 20 this year, Yuanyuan, from Southwest China's Yunnan Province, signed up for a class that taught "traditional feminine values" to help her in her search for a husband. |
"The class taught us that women cannot be too strong or independent, and that we need to be subordinate to men, who are the pillar of women…and to avoid trouble, women should not voice their opinion too much," Yuanyuan told the Global Times.
So far, she has only attended a few classes at this institute, which is located in Yunnan's capital Kunming. "We read classical literature, such as the Analects of Confucius and learned to do house chores, but most of the time we attended lectures teaching us how to be 'virtuous' women," she said.
According to Yuanyuan, no one is allowed to use makeup or wear their own clothes. "We were given a uniform when we signed up for the class, because the instructor said that women are supposed to be simple and elegant. Wearing too much makeup and revealing clothes is just for seducing men," said Yuanyuan.
Describing herself as "shy and cute", Yuanyuan said she is fitting in with the class very well, as are all her fellow "classmates".
"We are just here to seek traditional female's virtues, which are being neglected by people nowadays," another student from the class, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times.
However, their desire to "learn true women's virtues" may have been dealt a severe blow. The existence of many similar classes all over China has sparked heated discussion in society, with many saying they are just retrogressive and go "against gender equality".
The education bureau in Fushun, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, on Sunday ordered a controversial institute to close after a viral video showing a lecturer telling female students they must be subordinate to men sparked outrage on social media.
The video shows students being told that women who are victims of domestic violence should not fight back. They were also told that they would die if they had sex with more than three men, and women who ordered take-out food instead of cooking for their families were considered lacking in virtue.
Deeper investigations revealed that the head of this institute, Kang Jinsheng, was an ex-prisoner, but later "turned to good' after being exposed to "traditional Chinese culture," Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday.
An employee of the institute, surnamed Chai, told the Global Times on Monday that the video was just aimed at preventing people from learning traditional culture. "The school has been open for seven or eight years and is free of charge. People who receive an education here are always grateful to us," said the employee.
In a separate article published by Beijing Youth Daily, Kang Jinsheng said that the institute contracted 60 mu (3.6 hectares) of land which it used to grow food for the "students", and that it also owns a clothes factory. Kang said these are their major sources of revenue.
However, not all such classes are as self-sufficient.
Xuan, a guest lecturer at a Jiangxi Province university who told women that they should remain virgins before marriage and acquiesce to beatings from their husbands, sparked controversy early this year.
Ding said in an interview with Btime that all her lectures are free, and only her accommodation and transportation fees are paid for by organizers.
However, Btime discovered that logos of commercial enterprises appeared at the venues of Ding's lectures, and representatives also spoke at the lectures to promote their companies.
Moreover, Ding's institute, the Hebei Institute of Traditional Culture, sells products from books and traditional culture classes to traditional wedding arrangements on its website, with prices going up to thousands of yuan.
After Ding's lectures were widely condemned, the Jiujiang Women's Federation published a statement saying that society should distinguish between traditional values and outmoded ideas, and such ignorant thinking should not be shared.
Apart from their financial sources, how these schools became qualified to even start business remains a mystery to most people.
According to media reports, the Fushun institute was established in 2011 and was approved by Fushun's civil affairs bureau. The bureau told China National Radio that it had only given approval for the institute to be established, and not to enroll students.
The education bureau of Fushun said on Sunday that the institute was opened outside the approved site, in violation of regulations.
The bureau also said that it will conduct a thorough examination around the city and close all similar classes to prevent events that "violate the core values of socialism."
Peng Xiaohui, a sexology professor at Wuhan's Central China Normal University, said that similar schools teaching young girls such classes should be forbidden and immediately suspended, adding that their existence can be seen as government-sanctioned sexism as schools require official permission to teach certain content.(news from the Global Times)