The Communist Party of China has blood on its hands. Its tendency to bully its own citizens has claimed yet another life. Zhou Peng, a 26-year old man has committed suicide, apparently because he was bullied for not being manly enough. This shows just how far Xi Jinping’s obsession with making Chinese men more manly goes.
Zhou Peng’s suicide note reveals he was bullied
Zhou Peng’s suicide has sparked discussions about gender norms, even as the government of China continues to criticise “sissy men”.
In his apparent 5,000-word suicide note that went viral on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo, Zhou said, “Boys are supposed to be naughty, fight, and swear. Boys who are too quiet and polite are effeminate and called sissy.”
Zhou also mentioned that as a child, he was “left behind” in the countryside by his migrant parents, who had moved to a city to work. This also exposes how China’s city-centric development model and the One-child policy has created an entire generation of youngsters who spent depressed childhood deprived of family life.
However, it is Zhou’s experience of being bullied that created a storm on Chinese social media. He wrote, “I might have just looked a bit like a girl when I was younger, but I dressed ‘normally’ and didn’t attempt to imitate girls.” Peng added, “Yet I was bullied in school, verbally abused, ostracised, threatened… and called all sorts of insults.”
One Weibo user commented from China, “He has a delicate appearance, and a seemingly gentle personality. These are all good points, and yet he was bullied just because they are not in line with traditional masculine ideals.”
The user-added, “How many other boys have been laughed at because of their soft look and soft voice? Who are we to dictate what’s acceptable or not – they have done nothing wrong.”
Chinese government promotes marginalisation of “sissy men”
The ideas of how men should be strong and tough, instead of being soft and delicate exist in all societies. However, the Chinese government actively encourages such ideas.
The CCP machinery had started showing disillusionment with the “effeminate” culture years ago. In 2018, Chinese state media Xinhua had published an editorial condemning the portrayal of softer masculinity in the Chinese media and entertainment sector. Xinhua had said that “sissy pants” or “little fresh meats” are hurting China’s global image.
In fact, Xi Jinping blames the rise of “effeminate” male celebrities in Chinese media and popular culture. The pop culture in China is heavily influenced by the sleek and girlish look of some celebrities from Japan and South Korea, and Xi thinks that this is a threat to his world domination dreams.
China aspires to be represented by really powerful masculine figures on the global stage. It is flexing its economic and military muscles around the world and thus, it feels that it needs more masculine men.
In a bid to make Chinese men more masculine, Xi has already cracked down on effeminate celebrities. Earlier this year, the CCP banned effete men from being broadcasted on TV and asked its media to promote “revolutionary culture,” broadening a campaign to tighten control over business and society and enforce official morality.
Broadcasters have been asked to “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” the TV regulator said, using an insulting slang term for effeminate men — “Niang pao,” or literally, “girlie guns.”
Why Xi wants to get rid of the “effeminate” culture
Believe it or not, Xi thinks that effeminate men are a threat to Chinese national security.
TFIGlobal had reported in May 2021 about how the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (The PLA) is comprised of wimps and sissies. Close to 70% of the Chinese military force consists of a single child, with no siblings. As such, they are brought up as pampered “little emperors” by parents and grandparents. Having psychological impacts that, growing up alone might have, there is a constant fear among strategic quarters in China that the softness of their force would spell a death-knell for the country’s expansionist and belligerent ambitions around all of its borders.
As such, the One-child policy has created a faulty PLA. But Xi blames the effeminate culture for its downfall. Also, Xi’s wolf-warrior diplomacy demands that China creates a new set of diplomats who can bully other nations. And the CCP believes that it cannot encourage such an aggressive brand of diplomacy, if the effeminate culture penetrates the Chinese society.
Dr Jonathan Sullivan, director of China programmes at University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute said, “When you are creating a feeling of ‘us against the world’, getting into fights with countries around the world, aggressively posturing and promoting policies for ‘self sufficiency’, it doesn’t jibe with soft metro-sexuality.”
Be that as it may, it is clear that if you are naturally soft and delicate, you have no place in Xi’s China. Only Xi’s version of ‘strong’ men can survive in China and men like Zhou Peng are either going to spend a depressing life getting bullied or cut the ordeal short by killing themselves.