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Shanghai Introduces First "Textbook for Girls" to Encourage Self-protection

2017-09-28 15:09:31 Hayley Liu

Elementary schools in Shanghai have introduced a textbook designed specifically for girls, by many regarded as a positive step forward for China.

The six-chapter book entitled "Little Girl", published by the Shanghai Educational Publishing House, aims to provide fourth- and fifth-grade girls with a better understanding of beauty and self-protection with physiological and psychological explanations and illustrations.

The "Little Girl" textbook is designed for primary school girls.

The textbook covers a broad spectrum of topics with chapter headings such as "I'm a Girl", "the Pursuit of Beauty", "Protect Yourself", "Interpersonal Wealth", "the Angel of Love" and "Embrace the Future".

In the first chapter, for instance, the textbook gives suggestions on maintaining a beautiful appearance, such as not touching your face with dirty hands, using warm water to wash your face, and trying not to overuse cosmetic products. In the part titled "Dressing Accordingly", the book states "a girl’s dress demonstrates her level of education and shows respect to others".

The first chapter "I'm a Girl".

"Looking for the lost half".

What is the polite way to talk?

In the chapter titled "Protect Yourself", the textbook states that "everyone has a 'restricted area' on their body. Nobody can touch it or look at it without your permission." It also offers various scenarios to help girls improve their awareness of self-protection.

The textbook's corresponding version specifically for boys was published last August. Titled "Little Men", the book focused on masculinity, responsibility and self-protection. With the release of the version for girls, gender education can be implemented in Shanghai in segregated classes, using the two different, gender-specific textbooks.

"Little Man" is intended to boost masculinity in young boys.

Though the books are more concerned with moral education than gender, their publication still marks a positive leap forward in China, because they are the first to organize different content for different genders. However there are some who don't agree with the idea of male and female students taking classes separately.

Fang Gang, an expert on gender studies, questioned why boys and girls had to be given separate classes when learning sex education. He claims it is important for teachers to avoid mystifying the subject, and that lessons should be more open and accessible for children.

Chinese Internet users hailed the textbook, but agreed it could be improved by encouraging girls to express their own individuality. One commentator said it's important for students to participate in sex education and protect themselves from sexual harassment. Others were more concerned with why the girls on the cover of the textbook have brown instead of black hair, "Aren't they Chinese?" some questioned.

"It's important for students to participate in sex education and protect themselves from sexual harassment"

The book shouldn't start with "an old Greek myth goes". When can we place more emphasis on our own culture?

Differentiated education may lead to gender inequality.

China is attaching more and more importance to tackling sexual assault and harassment, especially after the photo of a young girl being molested in public went viral and sparked nationwide outcry this summer. According to research carried out by the Girl's Protection Foundation, between 2013 and 2015, there were 968 child sexual assault cases in China reported online and in the media, with 1,790 victims.

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