A video from a state-owned railway in China asking women to avoid wearing makeup while traveling on trains has sparked a fierce backlash and debate over sexism.
On Saturday (16), the China Railway clip was the most searched, most read and most debated item on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter-like social media platform – two months after it was originally published.
The poor reception comes amid a broader feminist movement calling for greater gender equality in the country of 1.4 billion people, where men often still dominate boards of directors and key government bodies – and where In the past, the feminist movement was often censored.
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The post appears to have been planned as part of a railway campaign to reduce inappropriate passenger behavior and follows a series of other posts that have instructed people not to litter, occupy other people’s seats or speak too loudly.
Released in July, the video shows an elegantly dressed woman filming herself and preparing to apply makeup while sitting in what appears to be the cabin of a high-speed intercity train.
She is interrupted by a man in the next seat who taps her on the shoulder, and the clip shows the man’s face covered in her foundation.
“I don’t need to put on makeup, girl,” he then says to the woman, who apologizes and helps him clean up.
The approximately one-minute clip sparked a controversy that shows no signs of abating.
On Saturday, its related hashtag garnered 340 million views and 20,000 comments. Many citizens criticized the video as offensive.
“Why does it have to be such a gender-focused case, where women put on makeup, to illustrate uncivilized behavior?” one Weibo user asked.
Others defended the right to wear makeup. “There’s nothing uncivilized about it,” said one.
“Will the next step involve banning women from trains once and for all?” asked another user.
A CNN has contacted China Railway for comment.
Chinese authorities tried to defend the announcement, with comments carried by state media outlets urging people not to “overinterpret” it.
The commentary, first published on Nanfang Daily, stated that makeup incidents like the one depicted were among the “most common” complaints received.
However, he admitted that there were worse behaviors – such as talking too loudly or taking another passenger’s seat.
“The video editor is not asking people not to wear makeup on the train, but to advocate a civilized way of traveling and take the feelings of other passengers into consideration,” he said.
In response to questions from local media, China Railway customer service hotline staff said that wearing makeup is not prohibited on trains.
Source: CNN Brasil
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