A woman dubbed as one of China’s “Internet Queens” has come under fire after letting her newborn follow her husband’s surname — a practice that has endured for thousands of years but is now being challenged by some in the country.
The criticism against Jiang Yilei, better known as Papi Jiang, reportedly comes from a number of “feminist warriors” who, according to one author, have a tendency to impose “extreme views” of gender equality on others.
The controversy reportedly started when Jiang posted a photo of herself with her newborn daughter on May 10, this year’s Mother’s Day, on Weibo.
“I just realized that being a mother is the most tiring thing in this world,” Jiang captioned the post, which was later deleted.
While Jiang clearly attempted to honor motherhood, one user reportedly took offense in the fact that her baby follows the name of her husband.
“Papi Jiang looks so weak after giving birth, yet the child still adopted her father’s family name,” the user wrote.
The sentiment soon snowballed among other users, who expressed disappointment because Jiang is “no longer the independent woman we used to know.”
Some even labeled her “hunlu” (or “married donkey”) — a derogatory term for women who supposedly become “slaves” of their husbands’ families after marriage.
“I feel so sorry for her. She used to be an independent woman who I admired a lot, but she has become a ‘married donkey’ now,” one wrote, according to SupChina.
Another chimed in, “You don’t need to feel sorry for her. She made the choice and she will suffer the consequences.”
Jiang rose to popularity in 2015 by performing acting monologues on video. She has since collaborated with multiple companies and launched her own media company the following year.
Despite the backlash, many also came to Jiang’s defense. For one, a Beijing News opinion article slammed the outcry as a form of “women-shaming.”
“I’m not a professional scholar in the field of gender equality, but based on the relevant material I’ve read, I don’t think any feminist theory would support such vicious attacks on married women,” the author wrote. “This is not feminism. This is another form of women-shaming.”
Chinese law stipulates that children can follow either their father or mother’s surname. This makes it legally clear that having the choice is an equal opportunity for both parents, according to China Youth Daily.
However, China’s use of paternal surnames has been culturally conventional for thousands of years. It is said that the maternal surname typically prevails when the mother comes from a richer and/or more powerful family.
Those defending Jiang asserted that outsiders simply have no right to interfere with her family life. Meanwhile, others voiced confusion about the hate she has been getting.
Weibo users commented:
“Don’t we all have our fathers’ surnames?”
“Do these so-called ‘independent women’ respect others?”
“So people are now using donkeys to describe postpartum women?”
“What is the relationship between an ‘independent woman’ and a child’s surname?”
“What a magical online world … I don’t understand it anymore. The word ‘donkey’ can now be used to describe women. How about ‘donkey’ for the child’s surname?”