A notice from China's education ministry has caused a stir after it suggested young Chinese men had become too "feminine". The message has been criticised as sexist by many online users - but some say China's male celebrities are partly to blame.
For a while China's government has signalled concern that the country's most popular male role models are no longer strong, athletic figures like "army heroes". Even President Xi Jinping, a well-known football enthusiast, has long been seeking to cultivate better sports stars.
So last week, the education ministry issued a notice with a title that left no doubt about its ultimate goal.
The Proposal to Prevent the Feminisation of Male Adolescents called on schools to fully reform their offerings on physical education and strengthen their recruitment of teachers.
The text advised recruiting retired athletes and people from sporting backgrounds - and "vigorously developing" particular sports like football with a view to "cultivating students' masculinity".
It is a decisive push in a country where the media does not really allow for anything other than squeaky clean, "socially responsible" stars.
Meanwhile, the government has been on a drive in recent months to introduce and promote new role models for young Chinese.
Where women are concerned, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a good opportunity to demonstrate the significant role of women as front-line workers.
And China's achievements in space last year were a great opportunity to promote figures like Zhou Chengyu, who became a viral sensation as a 24-year-old space commander.
But as Si Zefu hinted last year, for young Chinese men the appeal of being strong and fearless soldiers, policemen or firefighters is waning.
The "little fresh meats" phenomenon continues to be a proven success, but young male celebrities come under increased scrutiny, and find it difficult to be anything that departs from the squeaky-clean mould.
In recent years, media have struggled to allow young male stars to appear on Chinese screens with tattoos or earrings. And one of China's top pop stars came under fierce criticism online in 2019 when he was pictured smoking.
Let's get down to business, indeed. When I first saw this note from one President Pooh Bear Xi (he loves being called that) I thought that he might be on to something. Perhaps we shouldn't be saying that the Fresh Little Meats are what we want the next generation of boys to end up like. After all, they dance, they sing, they carry on like you wouldn't fucking believe. Ew, David. All they care about is the number of likes on their Instagram posts and not the likes of the young women in their midst. If you're a Chinese male, you are looking down the barrel of a sex doll and dirty panty vending machine because there are 70 million more men than women. What's that tell ya? It tells you that you're gonna be rubbing your dick with your own hand or with the hand of someone you have to stick in a dishwasher every now and then because it's starting to smell like butter covered old shrimp shells.
The issue with this decree is that it's a decree that speaks from both sides of its mouth like the palate-ambidextrous version of Fire Marshall Bill.
You wanna have a generation of tough fellas but then you say it's soccer players that you want the men to model themselves after? It makes no sense. You could have picked hockey, rugby, football, judo, jujitsu, boxing, or damn near any other sport but you picked soccer? I mean, sure. Those guys are in great shape and have tremendous legs and thighs. They have great haircuts and senses of fashion but dont the Little Fresh Meats already have those things in spades? You really wanna say these dudes are the modern major general version of masculinity?
Not only that but then you poopoo men for smoking and having tattoos? You think that's too much? Uhhh… when done right, smoking looks fucking awesome.
Wait. Wrong gif. That's not the one I meant to use. Let me try again. ENHANCE!
Oh hell yes. That's the stuff. Hit me again Ike and put some stank on it!
AGAIN! DO IT AGAIN!
HA! Classic! One more?
Ok that's too much. What the fuck, man. See, that's why we cant have male role models out here smoking and with tattoos and shit. You give someone a rope and they wanna be a cowboy.
I guess leading in government is harder than it looks. Maybe Xi had a reason to pick soccer players. Maybe it's so the country with the world's largest population isn't sitting around with 2-gallon buckets filled with various cigarettes while simultaneously destroying their lungs, the environment, and their country's future. Damn.
Anyway, here's some old American fresh little meats from the good folks at Zero Blog 30. We broke down the FLM on the pod today.