Language-learning website portrays women as ‘sex objects’
The website SexyMandarin.com has been attracting attention for its use of video ‘tutorials’ featuring scantily clad women, engaged in sexually suggestive activities while delivering lessons in Mandarin.
While the site’s founder, Kaoru Kikuchi, says it aims to make Mandarin more accessible, critics have attacked its objectification of women.
Applicants for teaching jobs on the site are required to submit a full-body photo, and details of previous modelling (as well as teaching) experience.
SexyMandarin’s first video, published online last December, starts with two young women dressed in lingerie, touching each other on a bed.
Subsequent videos have featured a woman sucking suggestively on a lime, a woman dancing in underwear, a woman removing her bra, and women wearing ‘sexy’ nurse and police outfits.
Kikuchi’s partner, Mick Gleissner, who produces the videos, says: “it’s kind of ridiculous but it’s also fun.”
However, many women (and men) disagree. In a survey of Singaporeans, most said they found the videos to be offensive and demeaning.
Annie Chan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong-based Association for the Advancement of Feminism, has criticized SexyMandarin as having “exoticised” Chinese women.
Meanwhile the executive director of Hong Kong’s Women’s Foundation, Sue-Mei Thompson, said the films looked “dated”, adding that the Foundation was “vehemently opposed to gender stereotyping, especially anything that objectifies women as sex objects.”
Disappointingly, much of the media coverage (in English, at least) seems to agree with the site’s founders, that it’s all just harmless fun.
See, for example, this Huffington Post piece and this RocketNews24 article, which declares: “Now you have no excuse not to start learning (unless you’re female or you’re already dating a sexy Chinese model…)”
There seems, nonetheless, to be a general consensus that SexyMandarin is unlikely to be of much use to those who really want to become fluent in the language. As one article notes, the website itself “points serious learners to another site to learn the language.”
Just another excuse to objectify women then.