Shanghai Metro advises women not to wear sexy clothes

A woman “covers up” in protest at Shanghai Metro’s microblog

Have mercy for sexual perverts. Do not wear sexy clothes or you may provoke sexual harassment!

According to SCMP, Shanghai Metro tells women to “have self-respect” and not to wear sexy cloths in its microblog. It posts a photo of a young woman in a sheer dress on a subway platform and says, “Dressing like that, it would be unusual for a lady not be harassed. There can be perverts on the subway and it’s hard to get rid of them. Please have self respect, ladies.”

It’s a pity that the Metro has been attacked on the Internet by bloggers, especially female ones, for such a kind advice on self-protection.

Some online users said the post offended them. “What I wear is my basic right, it does not deny the rights of others,” one of them wrote. Another blogger holds that the message behind the post is that women who are sexually harassed on the subway probably have asked for it.

SCMP says that the blogger wrote that women reacted so negatively to the post because they all felt repressed by society about what was proper to wear in public spaces. “Women demand a public space with no censorship and respect for their body’s sovereignty.”

SCMP says, “On Sunday, two female passengers donned black robes and masks on the metro’s Line 2 to protest over the post. The passengers held up message boards saying: ‘I can show off, you can’t harass me’ and ‘We want to be cool but we don’t want perverts.’”

Please make allowance for Chinese tradition. We Chinese have a long tradition of stringent dress code. In 1910s, some girls were put to death for cutting their hair short in revolt against the traditional style. That was nothing compared to the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s when one might be in great trouble if one failed to conform to the dress and hair-style codes.

I personally saw an overseas Chinese surrounded by mob for his hair style at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai. He was lucky that there happened to be a gas station nearby where a mob was not allowed in for safety. He used the phone there to ask the government to rescue him. Officials came in a car and told the mob to forgive the man as he had just arrived from abroad and did not know the hair style in China. “He is leaving for a haircut now,” they said. At that time, Shanghai government still functioned well. Otherwise, anything might happen when one was surrounded by a mad mob.

Perhaps, due to such wonderful tradition, Shanghai Metro still wins majority support. SCMP says, “Some 70 per cent of the nearly 17,000 respondents to a Sina weibo online poll yesterday said that women should dress more conservatively when on the subway, and that the dress code had nothing to do with discrimination.

“‘If you don’t respect yourself, how can you ask others to respect you?’” one supporting microblogger asked.

According to SCMP, despite the controversy, Shanghai Metro has refused to apologise. The post was still on its official microblog yesterday.

Categories: Human Rights & Social Issues

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7 replies

  1. Hmnn…well, seems to this writer that the folk complaining about the Metro’s advice have not thought enough and perhaps have reacted emotionally instead as our teens so famously tend to do.
    It seems likely the Metro was reacting to complaints from passengers. It feels some responsibility but has no real ability to completely prevent anti-social conduct by perverts, who are by definition on the fringes of society norms. So it common-sensically offers advice to avoid unnecessarily tempting such deviates unless one is willing to risk the results being considered. In other words, the Metro cares but can’t change human behavior by itself. The complainers rather seem to expect their world to take care of them without their having to accommodate reality themselves, an infantile attitude in my eyes. Of course, I’ve never shared the subway experience under discussion…



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