The Chaoyang Experimental Primary School in Beijing will begin teaching ‘high-risk activities’, such as rock-climbing and instructions on the use of nunchucks, as a way to foster young males’ masculinity in a recently-introduced ‘real man’ course, according to local reports.
According to CRIENGLISH.com, the course was created by the school’s headmaster who observed that boys in lower grades were often too shy to communicate with their classmates, ‘made a fuss’ over injuries, and were sometimes being bullied by their female peers.
“We have to teach these school boys how to be more masculine and how to behave like a real man,” Chen was quoted as saying in the report. “We are planning to introduce some intense activities in the future, such as wrestling and rugby.”
A similar program at the Haoertong Kindergarten in Shanghai aims at tailoring “male etiquette” through activities meant to help develop “masculine traits” like “bravery, courage, and a sense of responsibility”.
In the program, the boys are given miniature versions of many different sports to play with, as well as a small sand battlefield complete with tanks, miniature soldiers and toy weapons.
Traditional gender constructs are often pushed onto Chinese children at a young age, perpetuating tired gender roles and perceptions of what’s “feminine” and what’s “masculine”.
A recent report by the BBC describes a theme park in Beijing where children can test out future careers through role-playing activities and mock settings like a court room or an airplane:
Girls often want to try out the flight attendant setting. After loading up a fake airplane cabin with suitcases, the girls are guided by amusement park employees on how to act and carry themselves to be a stewardess while also learning how to serve meals from service carts. Meanwhile, many of the boys choose to work at the facility’s fake airport as either custom agents or security guards. Outfitted with fake bulletproof vests and toy mini-rifles, boys are encouraged to act aggressive and tough.
The report claims that activities like these often encourage children to cling to rigid gender stereotypes and hang on to them throughout their lifetime.
“In China, the idea that girls can’t or shouldn’t do the same jobs as boys is passed on early. It’s a lesson that extends into university and beyond”.
(And damn our shitty conventional schools for not teaching us how to properly use nunchucks.)
[Image via CRIEnglish]