Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Shanghai Metro Gets a Dressing Down

The picture posted on Shanghai Metro's weibo
When a woman gets into a packed subway train, she has a high chance of being inappropriately touched or photographed during her ride.

This is particularly the case in Asia, such as Japan, Hong Kong and China, where some perverts or ham sup lo as we say in Cantonese, do anything to look up a woman's skirt, down her blouse or even touch her breasts.

A few months ago a guy in Hong Kong was caught with a crazy mirror like contraption strapped to his shoe that took pictures up women's skirts. The lengths some people go for kicks.

And now the Shanghai Metro is warning female passengers to "have self-respect" and not wear revealing clothing, particularly now in the summer heat. On its microblog post, the transport agency claimed sexy clothing would provoke sexual harassment.

The post included a picture of a young woman wearing a sheer black dress standing on the subway platform. "Dressing like that, it would be unusual for a lady not to be harassed," it said. "There can be perverts on the subway and it's hard to get rid of them. Please have self respect, ladies."

The Shanghai Metro thought this public service announcement would be received with thanks for its thoughtfulness.

But instead the reaction was the exact opposite.

"What I wear is my basic right, it does not deny the rights of others," wrote a blogger known as SOY-BEAN-E.

A burqa-like reaction to the subway's warning
University of Macau postgraduate student Li Sipan wrote in Shanghai's Dongfang Daily yesterday that female internet users reacted negatively to the post because women felt repressed by society about what was proper to wear in public spaces. "Women demand a public space with no censorship and respect for their body's sovereignty."

While Li comes from the only child and "me generation", young people in China are more eager to express themselves and fashion was one outlet they didn't want regulated.

Others reacted by dressing up in a burqa-like outfit to be photographed in the subway train, poking fun at the admonition of tempting perverts.

Shanghai University sociology professor Gu Jun said the subway's dress code suggestion could be seen as a war of the sexes.

"Men see women's sexy way of dress as an expansion of women's rights in public spaces, and they feel threatened," Gu said.

What's interesting is that some 70 percent of the nearly 17,000 respondents on a Sina weibo online poll yesterday said that women should dress more conservatively on the subway and that the dress code had nothing to do with discrimination.

Were most of the survey takers men?

One microblogger named bingqing_8962 asked, "If you don't respect yourself, how can you ask others to respect you?"

First of all, just because someone is provocatively dressed doesn't mean they don't have self respect.

Secondly, there are some young women who have no clue what is proper dress, or realize that they are inviting sexual harassment wearing skirts that barely cover their bottoms, or see-through blouses and plunging necklines. So there is some need for fashion education, but also that others should accept what people are wearing as self expression.

Here in Hong Kong we have some student interns in the office for the summer and some of the young women are inviting stares because of their state of dress. Obviously no one has told them what the dress code is in the office and are wearing things to hang out with friends or go clubbing.

We just need a some more education and we'll all be one harmonious society again.

So button up!

No comments:

Post a Comment