“Women hold up half the sky,” said an image from China's Communist Revolution in 1949, celebrating the liberation of women from the feudal system. And how are women treated in China today? It's hard to answer objectively, but a look at the doodle on Baidu, the country's biggest Internet search engine, for International Women's Day on March 8 gives some indication: a doll inside a music box.
Baidu's doodle offered quite a contrast from the Women's Day artwork at Google. One famous Chinese blogger, who writes under the name “Pretending in New York,” addressed the difference:
To be fair, Google's doodle is not really brilliant, it's just politically correct. But such mundane political correctness, when compared with Baidu's doodle, is very precious.
Highlighting some of the comments from Weibo and WeChat in a blog post, the blogger explained why China could use more political correctness:
It's so easy to tell which is better.
In Baidu's doodle, the woman is a fragile and adorable girl who needs to be protected.
In Google's doodle, it shows respect for women with different occupations, ages, and lives.
Baidu's doodle is a doll in a beautiful box, it's not even a human.
Apple adds a few hundred emotional icons for people with different colors and sexual orientation in its system; Google celebrates the festival with women with different occupations and ages; and Baidu puts girl in a box. She just needs to stay pretty, get married, give birth, and let others look at her.
Some Internet companies are very backward in their perception of gender. That's why their representations of gender are full of the stereotypes of a patriarch society. Some even devalue women by wrapping them in empty images under man's gaze for his consumption. […] women's subjectivities are neglected. Of course, they do this to serve the needs of e-commercials and holiday consumerism.
Why do I feel offended as a woman? Because I don't want to be a “princess.” I'm not interested in music boxes, jewels, or toys. I just want to be an ordinary independent woman. […] This is not the first time Baidu has insulted me. I still remember using the website once, when I was a junior in high school. When I typed “how to” in the search engine, the automatically suggested search was “how to give birth.” Do you know how that affects a 13- or 14-year-old girl? I felt so bad, really bad.
International Women's Day is about telling the world that people are born equal, not that women need special (monetary) caring. Baidu reflects how the Chinese society defines women as “toy.” Actually, this definition is also a burden for men. [It reinforces the beliefs] such as the idea that “Diaosi [poor, ordinary looking guys] have to kneel down and lick their goddesses,” and “goddesses only love the best, most handsome, and wealthiest guys.” The liberation of women also sets men free.
“Pretending in New York” highlighted @LinaliHuang's workplace experience, which she shared on WeChat:
Worked with a big Internet company on the thematic image of the Women's Day. The drawing included women with different body sizes in different occupations. The team enjoyed the process and was very happy about the outcome. The image's caption was “Be yourself.” Most team members were women and everything went very smoothly initially. But the boss rejected the idea and changed the image to one of a little woman drinking tea in a garden. The new caption says, “You deserve special care.” I saw Google's today, and I just feel sad.
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