No rea­son for men to look shabby

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Com­ment on ‘As dili­gent and de­voted as Chi­nese men’ (China Daily, July 26)

I agree with the au­thor that Chi­nese men don’t de­serve the crit­i­cisms di­rected at them by ne­ti­zens, but I dis­agree with his rea­sons for that.

First, be­ing dili­gent and de­voted is ir­rel­e­vant to pay­ing at­ten­tion to one’s ap­pear­ance. Chi­nese women have not con­trib­uted less than men to the coun­try, so­ci­ety and their fam­i­lies. Al­most all Chi­nese have heard the sto­ries ofHuaMu­lan, Liang Hongyu, Mu Guiy­ing, Wang Zhao­jun, just to name a few, in their child­hood. These women have pro­tected the coun­try with their lives. Women like Li Qingzhao andHuang Daopo have con­trib­uted to the devel­op­ment of so­ci­ety in their own ways. As far as fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are con­cerned, Chi­nese men have far less to show for their con­tri­bu­tion.

In the past, Chi­nese women had to han­dle the af­fairs of ex­tended fam­i­lies while men were ba­si­cally free of chores be­cause they were al­most al­ways away from home pur­su­ing fame and for­tune. And mod­ern day women face the chal­lenge of work and fam­ily both. Their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties have in­creased many­fold, test­ing their phys­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties. But de­spite fac­ing the dual chal­lenge, they man­age to look pre­sentable even when they are not dressed in their best clothes. So, how can Chi­nese men use dili­gence and de­vo­tion as an ex­cuse to look slovenly?

Sec­ond, the au­thor says the in­ner qual­i­ties of men have been tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­ered more im­por­tant than their looks, be­cause looks are su­per­fi­cial. Although true, this view­can­not be used by men to look un­tidy.

Be­sides, go­ing by tra­di­tion, the in­ner qual­i­ties of both men and women take prece­dence over their ap­pear­ance. We can tell this from the tra­di­tional guide­lines for an­cient Chi­nese women, such as Lessons for­Women and Bi­ogra­phies of Ex­em­plary Women. These books were used to teach women in the past how to be­have, but not how to dress prop­erly.

If Chi­nese men seem in­fe­rior to women, the rea­son may not be their out­fits and getups, but their up­bring­ing, tem­per­a­ment, out­look and health. In this sense, looks are not su­per­fi­cial; they are im­por­tant.

Third, it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the au­thor to say that “with­out the sup­port of men… this would not be al­ways pos­si­ble”. Mod­ern women fight for them­selves and dress for them­selves; they don’t need to de­pend on their male fam­ily mem­bers for money or to tell them how to dress. Many Chi­nese women stand out in the work­place, and ob­tain equal or even higher po­si­tions than men. Many brands and shops to­day cater ex­clu­sively to Chi­nese women. Women to­day can make their own choices.

Yes, we do need to ad­mit that many ca­pa­ble Chi­nese women don’t get the salary or post they de­serve, and that Chi­nese men can get higher pays than women. But that can­not be used as an ex­cuse by men to look shabby and di­sheveled all the time. Sur­pris­ingly, de­spite these dis­ad­van­tages, Chi­nese women still live a de­cent life and look bet­ter than their male coun­ter­parts.

Fourth, although I ad­mit that Chi­nese men face great fi­nan­cial pres­sure, as the au­thor says, I don’t think women are liv­ing an easy life. In a mod­ern fam­ily, men and women sup­port each other ma­te­ri­ally and spir­i­tu­ally. Chi­nese men should have the con­fi­dence to prove the crit­i­cisms wrong by look­ing pre­sentable and smart. Ac­tu­ally, there is no rea­son to de­fend men for their unkempt looks, and any at­tempt to do so would only smell of male chau­vin­ism.

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