Over the New Year’s Eve weekend, Quartz posted a video to its Facebook page titled, “A new hit Chinese TV show prove sexist ideas still exist there.” In it, it breaks down how the show, which became a hit after premiering over the Christmas holiday, blatantly emphasises sexist stereotypes.
The problem with Quartz’s take is that having the video titled as such already positions it to invite an extremely narrow-minded reaction. Yes, over-emphasising a woman’s looks, reproductive capacity and domestic competence is sexist. But what’s truly being interrogated here is not sexist attitudes but rather, old-fashioned ones. Quartz acknowledges that the younger generation is more open-minded, but this gets played down, while the more conservative beliefs of the older generation gets sensationalised.
Those of us who are Asian are all familiar with the struggle that comes with having a less progressive generation for parents. It’s a set of circumstances we’ve all learnt to regard with a mix of frustration and affection. By framing this within the context of sexism, all Quartz is doing is picking on an older generation of traditional Chinese parents and using that to bait an obviously White, well-educated, and liberal audience (as can be seen from the comments).
Take for instance how, at 0:54, a contestant is asked whether she can do housework by one of the parents. Quartz then inserted captions stating how she had one PHD and two Master’s, which distracts from the fact that wanting someone to be competent in household chores is, in itself, not sexist at all. Housework is, after all, a shared responsibility. This only seems sexist because of how the video has been edited, and how Quartz emphasises the woman’s qualifications in relation to the parent’s question. Surely, even PHD holders should know how to keep their homes clean. And why would anyone want a partner who refuses to help around the house?
This goes on to beg the question: Why is it that in Western media, the “White working class” gets humanised despite their crass racism and sexism, but older Chinese folk get condemned and dramatised for their antiquated ideals? Older racist and sexist White people get a pass for their rural convictions, but when Chinese parents exhibit a lack of imagination, it’s suddenly such a big deal.
So, to put things in perspective, how about this for a headline instead:
“2016 proves racist and sexist ideas still exist in the US.”