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China halts chauvinist ‘female morality lessons’

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Chinese authorities have shut down a “female morality class” that provoked anger by lecturing women to shut up, accept a second-rate role in society and focus on housework, state media reported Monday. In viral video that surfaced on China’s internet, an instructor in the class in the northeastern province of Liaoning tells students that “women should talk less, do more housework and shut their mouths”.

The teacher also said that “women should not strive to move upwards in society, but should always remain at the bottom level”. “If you order food delivery instead of cooking by yourself, you are disobeying rules for women,” another instructor said.

The class was launched in the city of Fushun by the Fushun Traditional Cultural Research Association, which was established in 2011 with the approval of city authorities. Its aim was ostensibly to reinforce Confucian values, part of a growing national embrace of traditional teachings, but video of the lectures angered many.

“This is female slavery, not female morality,” wrote one angry user of China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. Education authorities in Fushun said the class had been launched without authorization and would be stopped immediately, the official Xinhua news agency said.

“Female morality classes” are sometimes offered at Chinese schools and teach traditional culture such as Confucian morals, calligraphy, martial arts and appreciation of classic texts. The Fushun school had opened branches in three other Chinese cities, Xinhua said.

After coming to power in 1949, the Communist Party denounced Confucianism as a relic of China’s feudal past. Its adherents real or imagined were targeted during the violent purges of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.

But the political climate has changed radically in recent years President Xi Jinping readily quotes the philosopher, has included Confucian teachings in government propaganda and has been a champion of the increased study of traditional Chinese culture.

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