In Zhenjiang China, college students are studying their chosen fields while also learning how to be “perfect women”.
Zhenjiang College students began taking these female etiquette lessons in March, not long after China abolished its presidential term limits, which enables President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely.
In the past, President Xi Jinping claimed to be a supporter of women’s rights.
During his first five years in office, he did not make any significant progress on equality rights, such as getting more women into leadership positions or fixing the gender pay gap.
Instead, President Xi Jinping has been pushing his vision of a “harmonious” households in which men are breadwinners and women are wives and mothers. This move toward traditional gender roles has much to do with economic growth slowing and the population shrinking.
The Communist Party wants women to be educated but also fears that educated women will choose not to marry and have kids, which will potentially destabilize the country by compounding the surplus of males caused by the one-child policy.
In March, the college and the All-China Women’s Federation launched a course, which teaches women traditional domestic values while they pursue their chosen career paths.
This course is the first college course in feminine virtue in President Xi Jinping’s era.
According to Duan Fengyan, an accounting major, the course teaches women how to properly dress, pour tear, and even sit.
Women must sit on the front two-thirds of the chair with their belly in, shoulders up, and legs together. They are now permitted to occupy the entire chair.
The college reflects its society’s high standards for women, as there is no equivalent course for male students.
For example, female nurses are advised to wear “light makeup” to look professional, while male classmates are given no instructions at all.
Despite the course’s inherent sexism, many female students find these etiquette lessons fun and useful. They believe that the skills learned in this class will benefit them at home and in the workforce.
“Even before the job interview starts, we will deliberately pay more attention to how we sit, how we stand up. That is our advantage compared to those who haven’t attended these classes.” — Duan Fengyan