Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Asian Communists: More Sexist, or Less Sexist?

One question I had before going to China was this: will I see more sexism or less?

China is in Asia, where cultures exhibit more misogyny. (Remember the wisdom of Austin Powers, who notes that in Japan women come second, "or sometimes not at all.") But China is Communist, and Communist societies exhibit less misogyny. (What matters to a Communist government is how good of cannon fodder its citizens are, and ladies can serve in human waves just as well as dudes.)

What I saw in China was an Asian level of misogyny more than a Communist level of misogyny. Husbands and wives out for a walk "together" would be walking in single file, with the man in front. Home production and childcare were the province of women, even if they also had professional responsibilities outside the home. My school had boys sports teams but it had never crossed anyone's minds that girls could play sports, too, until the Western teachers started teams for girls. And during the after-school play periods, football was exclusively for boys, walking laps of the track was exclusively for girls, and a small group of intrepid girls would join in an ultimate frisbee game.

What do I make of this? Well, maybe it's just further evidence that China isn't as Communist as they think they are. (Like when my students thought a regressive tax code was a good idea because it provided incentive for poor people to work harder, which isn't exactly a sentiment Karl Marx would have endorsed.)

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