In the northern hemisphere, the new school year is beginning. Guangxi University is among the thousands of educational institutions in China opening its doors — and for its first year undergraduates, it has published a handbook specifically addressed to its female intake under the guise of protecting them.
The ‘safety guide’ included recommendations like the following: “Don’t wear revealing clothes on campus to prevent arousing temptation,” “Don’t go out alone” and “It is not suitable to wear high heels which restrict movement”. The university has also banned women from wearing spaghetti-strap tops.
In fact, the guidelines had 50 bullet points on how women should protect themselves, which included: “Do not wear clothing and skirts that are overly revealing, low-cut, exposing your waist, or showing your back, so as to prevent arousing temptation.”
But of course, this guise of ‘protection’ is yet another way the conservative state polices women’s behaviour. The guidelines, titled “Safety Education-Girls’ Safety Guide“ was published on August 1 and released to incoming students.
Other rules include: “’Draw the curtains at night to prevent peeping”, ”Don’t enter elevators alone,” and this one, that might make you fall off your seat:
“Try not to go to high-risk locations: remote suburbs or wild ridges, abandoned buildings or relatively closed spaces, unmanaged public toilets, roads with fewer pedestrians, narrow and dark alleys and underground passages, and remote trees, and grass and the stairs in tall buildings.”
I wonder if women in China can go out at all? Here are some other rules:
“Don’t chat with strangers at will, especially those who claim to be fellow villagers, college students from other schools, and people doing business in other places.”
“Be wary of those of the opposite sex who are courteous or particularly passionate to you for no reason , and don’t be fooled by their rhetoric.”
“When participating in social activities and interacting alone with men, you must manage yourself sensibly, especially not to drink too much.”
“Eliminate the greed for petty gains and beware of profit temptation. Sometimes bad guys use your vanity and greed to give you gifts and money, and use small favours to gradually get you into his trap. Gifts and invitations to the general opposite sex should be declined politely, so as to avoid being too small.”
Since its publication, Weibo has gone wild with people crying out discrimination and sexism. Most of the backlash identifies the obvious insinuations this handbook is projecting; that women are responsible for any sexual harassment or assault or discrimination they suffer at the hands of men.
Earlier this week, a Guangxi University administrator attempted to defend the guidelines, saying a “civilised etiquette” by its female students is required while on campus.
“Wear whatever you want if you are not entering the school,” the administrator was quoted as saying.
After an almost comically draconian set of rules, the guidelines conclude with: “I wish all girls safety, health and happiness!”
So, where is the guideline for incoming male students, I wonder?