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This Was The Year "Girl's Day" Really Stopped Being Cute

"Girl's Day" in China was supposed to be a way for boys on college campuses to show the girls how much they care. This year it went too far.

Posted on March 7, 2016, at 6:24 p.m. ET

Have you heard about "Girl's Day?" It's a big holiday for Chinese college students. Every year on March 7, students throughout the country celebrate the day as a campus version of International Women's Day.

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

Everywhere you look, male students are the main participants of the day. Try to walk into any Chinese campus on Girl's Day and you'll see this – countless red banners hung up along the streets on fences, buildings, anywhere you can imagine.

Instagram: @danni_not_danny

The banner could be as simple as "long live the goddesses from (a certain) school" like this one, which is kind of cute.

Instagram: @teongge

A female student posted this picture last year and wrote, "I'd be lying if I say I'm not moved (by this)."

Female students celebrate the day with their besties, but they are more on the receiving end of this holiday – this picture on Hubei University's Weibo account shows a group of male students waiting in front of the female dorms to provide breakfast.

Hubei University / Via weibo.com

These Suzhou University students are wrapping paper roses as a romantic surprise.

According to the state-run People's Daily's account, students from Shandong University in the east coast of mainland China invented the day in 1986, to celebrate the charm of female students and to show how much they care. It quickly spread all over Chinese campuses and flooded into society when media began to pick-up the more interesting banners and ways of celebrating.

But this year's Girl's Day has gone way too far according to a lot of people. Check banner from the renowned Nankai University: "You just eat, and I will grow; I make money and you take care of it."

The poem seems to completely ignore the progress of social division of labor, complete with the stereotype of women staying home and caring for the family.
weibo.com

The poem seems to completely ignore the progress of social division of labor, complete with the stereotype of women staying home and caring for the family.

The worst banner was hung at an unidentified university: "Sola Aoi is the world's, but you are ours." Sola Aoi is a Japanese porn star who's extremely wellknown in China — she has more than 16 million followers on Weibo.

The banner is addressed to "all the queens" studying pharmacology in the banner makers' class.
weibo.com

The banner is addressed to "all the queens" studying pharmacology in the banner makers' class.

The picture, together with similar ones posted on Weibo by a feminist who works in the media industry, immediately got over 20,000 comments and shocked the society.

"Every night when I raise my right hand, I think of you," one banner reads, in an apparent crude masturbation joke.South China Agricultural University, identified in some of the photos, soon reacted by announcing the removal of the vulgar banners. The university also said that the students didn't get the permission to hang the banners.
weibo.com

"Every night when I raise my right hand, I think of you," one banner reads, in an apparent crude masturbation joke.

South China Agricultural University, identified in some of the photos, soon reacted by announcing the removal of the vulgar banners. The university also said that the students didn't get the permission to hang the banners.

International Women's Day, originally named "International Working Women's Day," is shortened into "妇女节," the Women's Day, or "38 day" in Chinese.

There are many different words that mean "women" in Chinese. But the Chinese character for "women" used in the translation has a slightly derogatory meaning as it refers to married women only. The numbers "3" and "8" together, "38," also means refers to a bitchy woman.

Essays critical of Girl's Day quickly sprung up, noting that many of the banners — even the seemingly innocuous ones — could qualify as sexual harassment.

Instagram: @emily_mao_sy

The fact that "Girl's Day" is separated from "Women's Day" also came under attack. Participants are "unwilling to call themselves a member of 'women,' meaning the denial and stigma onto the word 'women,'" Ma Leijun, a UN Women staffer, wrote on NetEase, a Chinese media portal. The language on the banners are "enhancing male superiority," "discriminating against aging," and "controlling virginity," Ma continued.

Pictures of female college students holding responses to the banners that were supposed to be praising them have sprung up across Weibo.

“I’ll decide my marriage, whatever your mother says doesn’t count,” a student from Guangzhou Medical University posted in response to a banner that read “you are the only daughter-in-law my mother specifies.”

Another student from the same university stood in front of a banner that read “meeting you we don’t need AV (adult video) anymore.” Her response: “we need respect, equality, but no sexual harassment.”

Not everyone is against the campus holiday — some think Girl's Day should supersede Women's Day. Fan Tiantian, a panelist on Let's Talk, a relatively progressive talk show, started a hashtag campaign calling people to #SubstituteWomen’sDayWithGirls’Day.

Fan made clear that she’s not the kind of person who has things to do with “bleach and washing powder.” Many popular writers on Weibo echoed her. “Actually it has nothing to do with age, as long as you have dream about beauty, romance and gentleness, and a little bit naive, you are a ‘girl’ forever,” wrote Su Qin, a famous writer who has almost 50 million followers. More than 24 million people viewed the hashtag page and 30,000 commented, many of them thinking the shift makes sense.
weibo.com

Fan made clear that she’s not the kind of person who has things to do with “bleach and washing powder.” Many popular writers on Weibo echoed her.

“Actually it has nothing to do with age, as long as you have dream about beauty, romance and gentleness, and a little bit naive, you are a ‘girl’ forever,” wrote Su Qin, a famous writer who has almost 50 million followers. More than 24 million people viewed the hashtag page and 30,000 commented, many of them thinking the shift makes sense.

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