Friday May 25, 2018

China's 'boy crisis' a load of nonsense, expert says

2011-12-30 12:38     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment

( – Chinese boys have allegedly been weakened to such an extent that they are academically inferior to girls and are losing ground physically and emotionally, which many claim is the result of an exam-oriented education system, a lack of father figures and various gender dividing practices in China. Yet others claim that this is nothing but a frightening exaggeration, which deflects attention from a more serious problem – continued discrimination against girls.

The book "Save the Boys" by Sun Yunxiao, Li Wendao and Zhao Xia, published in January of last year, has since prompted a nationwide debate over the plight of Chinese boys and the academic, physical, social and mental problems they face, now popularly known as the "boy crisis."

However, Xu Anqi, director of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Family Study Center, points out that girls are living in the same environment as boys; therefore, if boys are victims of any such external factors, so are girls, according to Xinmin Weekly.

One should not only focus on the academic achievements and growing competitive advantages of girls, while at the same time ignoring the social problems both boys and girls encounter, adds Xu, who claims that the "boy crisis" is merely scaremongering and excuse-making.

More girls are top-scorers

In recent years, the female-to-male ratio among top scoring students has been increasing, while the number of girls who achieve high scores on the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, is also on the rise.

Even in fields where boys have traditionally excelled, such as science and engineering, girls are now surpassing their male counterparts.

According to a survey conducted by Xu Anqi, more and more universities are lowering the bar for admissions of male students, especially in the humanities. As girls normally achieve higher scores anyway, the universities are giving boys preferential treatment by extending the range of qualifying entrance scores. This is done ostensibly to recruit as many male students as possible to ensure the "gender balance."

However, Xu reveals that such a practice is not applied when the situation is reversed. In high-end majors such as fingerprint recognition, even if the acceptance rate of boys reaches above 70 percent, the university will not redress the gender imbalance by extending the same courtesy to girls.

According to statistics released by UNESCO in June 2009, of the 148 countries and regions that had been investigated for gender imbalance in universities, 131 had more female students than male students, including the Philippines, Mongolia, Cuba and many others. But in China, the number of female students was only about 47 percent of all university students nationwide.

Xu says using academic performance and enrollment as an indicator to verify the "boy crisis" makes no sense. Using that logic, many countries should have been worrying about a "girl threat" more than twenty years ago, she adds.

The better performance by girls shows that our society has made great progress in promoting equity in education, and that this is an overall trend in our nation's development, says Xu.

Exams and a lack of fathers

Many people blame China's exam-oriented education and lack of father figures for the problem, yet Xu Anqi disagrees with this also.

According to an investigation conducted by Wang Jisheng, professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it is obviously not exam-oriented education that has led to the decline of academic performance by boys.

Wang says the current college entrance examination not only tests memory of basic knowledge in different branches of learning, but also examines comprehension and critical thinking ability. By only applying rote memorization, students will not achieve high scores, he adds.

As our society develops into a more civilized one, the traditional preference for sons rather than daughters has abated to a large extent, therefore girls are receiving more respect and becoming more confident. And with the female-to-male sex ratio becoming higher in China's population, the increase of female enrollment in universities is a reasonable trend.

Concerning the lack of fatherly parenting, the argument goes that if someone grows up with a father who works all hours as the breadwinner of the family, they will eventually recoil from following in the father's footsteps, and subsequently pay more attention to their appearance and become more effeminate. This may lead to the dreaded "masculinity crisis."

As more Chinese boys appear both physically and emotionally weak, the phenomenon has caused much concern among parents, educators and the media.

However, Xu Anqi says this only deflects attention from the real problem, which is discrimination against girls. As university students graduate, companies still like to hire males rather than females – at that point, the intellectual advantages of a hard-working girl are suddenly meaningless, regardless of how effete her male counterpart may be. As a result, those who need to be rescued in society are still more likely to be girls, says Xu.


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