As the world celebrated International Women’s Day on Tuesday, some students marked China’s own “Women’s Day” a day early, with some less-than-feminist messages and activities.

On Monday, social network Weibo was flooded with photos of banners complimenting women – for making good wives.

“Management and Economics girls are the only wives my mother approves,” one banner read at Guangxi University for Nationalities.

Photo: Weibo.

“Chenghuan girls, my mother’s chosen daughters-in-law – happy women’s day,” read another dedicated to girls studying Urban Environment.

Photo: Tounawang, via Weibo.

“My mother said wives must be found from Zhengda,” read a banner in Zhengzhou University.

Photo: Zhengda, via Weibo.

Other banners celebrated traditionally female-designated roles.

“Goddesses, don’t play with atomic bombs anymore. Come home with me,” reads a banner from engineering physics students from top Chinese university Qinghua University.

Photo: Weibo.

“No matter who you belong to tomorrow, today you are our girls!” read a banner dedicated to girls studying Commerce.

Photo: Weibo.

Anti-gay narratives also made an appearance.

“Thanks to your beauty, we never have to be gay,” read a banner dedicated to the women of Taohua Island from Xi’an Peihua University students.

Photo: Zhouyihsi, via Weibo.

“Even though it is crowded inside the closet, because of you Taoyuan girls, we will never come out of the closet,” read a banner dedicated to the Taoyuan girls from the Student Union.

Photo: Chengdurenbuzhidaodechengdushir, via Weibo.

However, it is not only male students who participated in the activities. Female students appeared to have indulged themselves.

Students from South China Normal University held an auction where female students bid on male participants. The men promised to serve their winning bidders on China’s Women’s Day and “satisfy their reasonable requests”, ChinaNews reported.

A Russian exchange student was a male participant bid by his female schoolmates. Photo: ChinaNews.

The introduction for the hashtag “Women’s Day” on Chinese Weibo encourages women to “find love and indulgence together” and men to pamper women and treat them as goddesses. The theme is somewhat antithetical to the “pledge for parity” and “empowering women” slogans used by International Women’s Day this year and last year.

The series of banners and activities for China’s Women’s Day came after activists celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 2015, which set out principles for gender equality.

On the eve of International Women’s Day last March, police detained 10 feminist activists who had planned a campaign against sexual harassment on public transport. Five were held for more than a month before being released on bail – they remain under criminal suspicion pending further investigation.

Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.