Today in awkward slut-shamey advice, Beijing officials are telling women to shield themselves with newspapers in order to avoid sexual harassment.
The cops gave out this hot tip now because of China’s rising summer temperatures – they know that logically, people will be wearing fewer layers and shorter clothes to beat the heat. And police brains often seem to think that shorter clothes = more harassment = under a woman’s control, so lo and behold; it’s yet another case of body-policing police.
On Wednesday, the Beijing Public Security Bureau released a document warning Chinese women against wearing short skirts, short-shorts, or other “skimpy” clothing for their own protection. It also tells women to use bags and newspapers to cover exposed body parts, and to sit or stand in lower areas of public transit rather than raised ones to avoid upskirt photographs.
I suppose it’s good that officials are acknowledging Beijing’s harassment problem – police do get loads of complaints from women who are groped, photographed or otherwise harassed on the city’s crowded buses and subways – but geez is this misguided. Haven’t we gone over it before? Telling women they should shield their bodies, not to mention what to wear and where to sit and stand, is not okay. Street harassment is a global epidemic, and women’s clothes or bodies are never, ever to blame. This is not how we prevent harassment and rape.
A police officer in Beijing says these weird measures are more necessary because most of the city’s public transit doesn’t have security or surveillance cameras. If the officer himself can identify that as a problem, how is there any excuse for inaction? Perhaps these cameras would be a better focus for Chinese security services than women’s clothes.
Plus the penalty for sexual harassment in Beijing is 15 days in detention, AT MOST. Somehow I don’t think officials are seeing harassment as a serious problem.
Women are guaranteed equal treatment and respect under Chinese law, since Mao Zedong, the founder of communist China, declared that women “hold up half the sky.” Let’s hope that present-day China starts to hold up that standard, so women can wear whatever they like without being shamed, guilted, or harassed.