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No reason for men to look shabby

Updated: 2014-08-01 07:23
( China Daily)

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 of Hua Mulan, 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 and Huang 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 view cannot 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 for Women 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.

SONG RENZHI, via e-mail

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