China

Rebecca Johnson

Do you know why Cuban cigars are illegal in America? During the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy established a trade embargo against Cuba to sanction Fidel Castro’s communist regime–supporting their economy would be supporting communism. America has tried to spread the word of democracy among nations, the most recent case in Syria, by combating any behavior deemed to be politically unjust.

If, however, America was as strict about countries today meeting our democratic ethical principles, we would be lacking serious imports, become disconnected with the world, and drop considerably as a world power.

China is one of America’s largest financial lenders and exporters. Our relationship with the country has proven to be increasingly essential since the economic crisis in the late 2000’s. However important they are,  America finds itself in a moral dilemma in dealing with China, due to strict laws forbidding what Americans consider basic rights. China’s governing body, known as the CPC (the Communist Party of China), is responsible for the crisis in China. A serious problem in the government that Americans do not agree with is the treatment of women. The government is responsible for limiting their lives with strict job regulations. The BBC reported a story called “The jobs Chinese girls just can’t do,” as one of the highlights in their ongoing “BBC’s 100 Women,” a showcase of women’s issues around the globe.

The BBC story by their Beijing correspondent Celia Hatton states that there are more women entering China’s universities than men, as well as graduating, yet the jobs women are “allowed to do” are not as flexible.

Children are taught at a very early age what is appropriate for them to aspire to when they are older. Parents pay a hefty fee to get their children to participate in a practice where the child dresses up and is put in a real world situation. Boys carry guns dressed as army soldiers, and girls dress as flight attendants in make-believe–in this fake world the stereotypes remain the same.

Women are also banned from studying certain majors at universities that are better suited for their male counterparts. The professors at the universities are expected to discourage women from trying such professions. In many other professions, the number of female positions available are limited and usually a fractional representation of the employee body.

“This university is not alone. Out of respect for women’s safety, it says, China’s education ministry bans girls from studying a variety of subjects across China, from tunnel engineering to navigation,” said Hatton.

The reasons as to why this is are inconsistent, and Hatton found many admissions workers for the universities and companies refused an interview. One professor made a statement to the reporter that women being limited to certain jobs is necessary.

“If they force their way into these jobs, they will waste energy that can be better used elsewhere.”

One student activist spoke to the BBC to tell her views, that what is happening is clear gender discrimination.

“No-one had stood up to these universities before, and told them these policies were wrong. Why didn’t anyone want to change anything? It really made me very angry.”

The activist is optimistic, thinking that increasing numbers in female students will make a change once people admit that sexism is a huge issues for China and stop ignoring it.

The thought of women becoming more than something below men is a difficult and frightening concept. If women don’t fulfill the strict gender roles then who will? What could happen to a society where women advance at a greater pace?

Spreading democracy isn’t the best for countries who don’t want it. Even with democracy in full swing, America has its own problems to deal with that keep us from really being a free country. The question is not whether we want to change China from its current communistic state into a democracy, but rather, do we want to support a country that treats half of its population unfairly? That is not the democratic thing to do and has not been our policy in the past.

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