A Beijing-based sexologist and sociologist who created a nonprofit “male virtue” program was surprised to find that more than 30 men signed up for his training sessions after the same program flopped around seven years ago.
Fang Gang started the first iteration of the program in 2015 to teach the opposite of what “female virtue” schools at the time did. Those institutions, which caused outrage across China, reportedly upheld patriarchal beliefs and taught women to take a back seat.
“Many men have shown interest [in the program] as they see this as a way to improve their marriage and their relationship with their children,” Fang, who is reportedly a well-known gender equality advocate in China, said. “At least from the media and public discourse, I have seen more discussion about gender issues and reflection on the role of men.” With his “male virtue” program, Fang helps men learn how to become better partners through exchanging life stories, taking part in games that simulate labor pain experiences and discussing films they have watched together. His classes advocate social responsibility and male family involvement while also addressing stereotypes.
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Fang’s classes will be available to the general public in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu next year. He has chosen three teams — out of 17 teams that reportedly signed up — to support him. These teams’ members are required to teach other men in their respective cities after attending Fang’s training sessions. Their goal is to teach classes that have at least 15 students per class.
“I did not expect a big number of men to sign up this time, but I think there are people who do want to change and grow. That is why we choose to start from big cities, where public awareness is better,” Fang said.
Fang hopes that the program will one day spread to other cities and eventually reach men around the entire country.