Quanzhou government sparks outrage for ad perpetuating gender stereotypes

Society & Culture

The municipal government of Quanzhou, Fujian Province, is in hot water over a digital billboard that highlighted sexist gender roles at home, part of a broader campaign to “practice good family rules and cultivate good family values.”

The controversy was triggered by a picture shared on Weibo, which shows a digital billboard at a local bus stop with the message: “The husband leads his wife on the road, while the wife assists her husband in finding success. The order of heaven and earth cannot be reversed. Those who follow the path will be prosperous, and those who don’t are destined to perish.”

The advertisement ignited an uproar on Chinese social media, with many people accusing it of promoting backward gender norms. “Can someone remind me what year it is?” one Weibo user wrote (in Chinese).

The criticism prompted the Quanzhou government to release a statement (in Chinese) on June 19 saying it had removed all of the offending ads and would be more conscious about its campaign’s content in the future. “We’ve always been an advocate of gender equality. We object to any form of discrimination,” the government said, admitting that the sexist message is at odds with “core socialist values.”