China Says Its Boys Are Too 'Weak,' Has Plan to Fix That

'Proposal to Prevent the Feminization of Male Youths' is getting pushback
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2021 4:16 PM CST
China Tells Schools to Help Boys 'Toughen Up'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/allensima)

If you're wondering about the meaning of the "Proposal to Prevent the Feminization of Male Youths," the newest initiative from China's Education Ministry, the title pretty much explains it. The New York Times reports that the plan, unveiled last week with scant detail and no word on a timeline, has tasked elementary and secondary schools with giving their gym programs an overhaul. The goal is to build up the "spirit of yang"—in other words, boost boys' "masculinity." This proposal calls for schools, typically dominated by female teachers, to hire more male PE instructors, especially those who are retired athletes or otherwise come from sporting backgrounds, and to place more emphasis on so-called manly sports. The plan took root in May after Si Zefu, a delegate for a governmental advisory group, declared boys in his country "weak, timid, and self-abasing," making them too effeminate, per the BBC.

Si Zefu noted that the "feminization" of Chinese boys could be traced back to so many being raised by their moms or grandmas, as well as a proliferation in Chinese culture of well-groomed male celebrities with delicate features who've come to be known by the derogatory term "little fresh meats." Some fear that boys are now idolizing these pop stars instead of more "masculine" role models like military heroes. The proposal hasn't been getting rave reviews online, per the BBC and "Is feminization now a derogatory term?" one person wrote on Weibo, China's Twitter. Another pointed out that being "emotional, timid, or gentle" aren't traits of boys or girls, but of humans in general. (China has addressed this perceived issue before.)

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