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(CGTN)A Heilongjiang-based publisher apologized on Thursday for releasing a high school safety education textbook that claimed scantily-clad women sexually harass men.
The textbook, published by Heilongjiang Education Publisher, sparked huge controversy on Chinese social media for listing several behaviors that that are instances of women "sexually harassing" men.
Examples include wearing revealing clothes in public area, talking and behaving vulgarly and indecently, as well as inappropriate body contact with males, reported Beijing News.
Among the listed conditions, “women wear revealing clothes in the public area” was regarded as the most significant condition by the book that women sexually harassed men, which had triggered a heated debate among Chinese netizens.
Many netizens expressed that identifying everyday behaviors by women as sexual harassment towards men was a form of discrimination. Users described it as a “barbaric and outdated” opinion to require women not to expose their bodies, reported Beijing News.
“According to the textbook, women are not supposed to dress up, speak loudly and have body contact with men, or their behavior would be regarded as sexual harassment. That is apparently unreasonable,” said Beijing News citing a netizen’s comment.
Students in a high school in the city of Mudanjiang also discovered the content in the textbook inappropriate and offensive.
Liu, a second year student in the high school, told Beijing News that “wearing revealing clothes” was an ambiguous concept since it didn’t elaborate on the exact degree of exposure. “If exposing arms and legs could be regarded as scantily clad, it could be said that we were sexually harassed men by wearing shorts during summer. So, as female, we can’t go out,” said Liu.
A male student in the school also said that it couldn’t simply connect women’s clothing to sexual harassment. “Just like when girls were sexually assaulted, the public blamed them for wearing revealing clothes. That was an absolutely wrong perspective,” said the male student.
In response, the publisher made an apology on Thursday, admitting that they failed to review the content of the textbook rigorously. They also claimed that they had recalled the textbooks and deleted the controversial content in the latest edition. They added that the textbooks were only released in the city of Mudanjiang, a city in northwest China’s Heilongjiang Province, and the textbook was written in 2015, according to Bjtime.
Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, pointed out that the opinions in the textbook were exaggerated and wrong. He said that only the active behaviors of women could be classified as sexually harassment towards men, while dressing was not among those behaviors, according to Beijing News.
Li Yinhe, a professor at the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and advocate for the rights of LGBT community, criticized the textbook for spreading the wrong values and depriving the right of women to expose their bodies.