Chinese college teaching women to be ‘perfect’ in the Xi Jinping era

Emily Rauhala:

At a college in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, Duan Fengyan is studying to be an accountant. She is also getting lessons in how to be a woman in the time of President Xi Jinping.

On a training course launched in March, not long after China abolished presidential term limits, Zhenjiang College and the All-China Women’s Federation are teaching female students how to dress, pour tea and sit just so – all in the name of Xi’s “new era”.

“You must sit on the front two-thirds of the chair – you cannot occupy the whole chair,” says Duan, 21, demonstrating. “Now, hold in your belly, relax your shoulders, legs together, shoulders up.”
The class, offered only to female students, aims to develop “wise”, “sunny” and “perfect” women, where wisdom comes from studying Chinese history and culture, sunniness from oil painting and etiquette classes, and perfection from the application of (never too much) make-up.