"Why am I a boy and not a girl?"
A gender-specific textbook has been issued in China that helps boys who “lack masculinity”.
The Shanghai Educational Publishing House textbook entitled Xiaoxiao Nanzihan, which translates to Little Man in English, reportedly aims to help male students in the fourth or fifth grades to understand physiology, sexual psychology in order to enhance their self-protection.
The book focuses on the mental health of male students and addresses “the boys’ crisis” – a phenomenon that refers to boys who lack masculinity and are overshadowed by girls during school years.
An official from the education bureau of Jing’an district said that the primary school textbook has received positive feedback from parents, students and education professionals in China, “so far we have received mainly positive comments from counterparts, school heads and parents, and many schools have shown interest in the book. It has been used by some primary schools in Jing’an and a few outside the district and we will make efforts to promote it.”
Author of the textbook and principal of Zhabei No 3 Central Primary School, You Rui, said that the textbook comes as part of the school’s pilot program that focuses on gender education. “The gender education classes for male students at my school proved very popular,” she said.
The textbook has six chapters and a number of colorful illustrations. Sections include: “What is the difference between a boy and a girl?”; “Why am I a boy and not a girl?”; “What does a father mean to a son?”; “How can we get along with nature?”; and “Why do we need to have awareness about investment and money management?”
“It’s quite necessary and positive to have gender education,” said Zhu Huafang, the mother of a third-grade boy. Zhu added that boys and girls are developing at an early age and can be very curious. Her son once asked her “what do female genitals look like?”, which Zhu found to be awkward. “I don’t know how to reply to him,” Zhu said, “instead of having him search on the internet by himself-where improper answers are likely to pop up, why don’t we learn from the textbook?”
19-year-old Li Ruomeng who went to an all-boys school and is now a freshman at a music institute in Germany, supports the idea of educating children about gender.
“This kind of education should be there when someone’s standards and values start to take form, and I believe the new textbook will play a positive role,” he said.
The Shanghai Educational Publishing House is currently working on a textbook designed specifically for girls.