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Dongzhi Chen, et. al. #fundie whatsonweibo.com

The Resurgence of the Tiger Dad: Fathers Pushing Their Daughters – for Whose Good?
by Yue Xin

The phenomenon of the ‘tiger mother’, a strict mom who pushes her children to be successful, became popular through the 2011 book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. Recent trends seem to signal a reevaluation of the stern, disciplinary father. On social media, many wonder why these fathers are pushing their daughters, and for whose good they actually do it.

The hashtag “Chinese piano girl stuns American audiences” has occupied the top searching lists on Sina Weibo, with many users praising Anke’s talents and hard efforts.

“Having just learned to play the piano for two years and four months, Anke now is able to play the pieces of grade 10 [the highest level before the ARCT],” Chen’s father Dongzhi Chen proudly told a reporter. He determinedly expressed his goals to train Anke to be a piano master and “the second Lang Lang” to China.

This is also what Anke told NBC’s host Steve Harvey when he asked the 5-year-old about her future dreams. But later, when he asked her the question “How did you start to play?”, she replied: “Dad wanted me to.”

Since her American television adventure, Anke has returned to her tightly scheduled life that revolves around the piano. She practices 4 hours a day, takes master’s classes at the Central Conservatory of Music, goes to concerts, and has dinner with fellow piano players. In the evenings when she has dinner with her dad, he makes her watch piano concerts on the computer.

In the Pear video, Anke initially almost seems to be a carefree girl- running around her dad like a butterfly. But the video report also shows how her father continuously sternly warns and commends his daughter to “listen to your father”, stop “fiddling around,” “stop wasting time and play the piano,” or to “show a happy face.”

The video also includes a short scene where Anke goes downstairs hoping to play with some friends, only to find herself alone: “My friends have probably all forgotten about me,” she says as she silently watches other children play on the basketball field.

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Subtitle: “Don’t give me a bitter face.” (Screenshot of Pearvideo.)

“It’s very possible that she will hate me in the future. But I think it is the only way to realize her life values,” Dongzhi Chen says in the video: “I know this is the hardest route for her and I’ve expected the worst. But I believe if she can play the piano well, she will be smart and successful in doing other things too.”

[...]

Being a student of conservatory of music was a dream of Chen himself, but it did not happen because Chen’s family did not have the money for it. He explains: “Therefore, I want my daughter to continue to explore the ultimate beauty of music for me.”

Chen’s story resonates with that of China’s highest-grossing Indian film Dangal (?????). In this true story, a former wrestler has the unfulfilled dream to win a gold medal for India. He swears to train his future son to achieve this dream for him. But when he only has daughters, he decides to train them instead to become India’s first female champion wrestlers.

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Chinese film poster of Dangal.

The film has received much praise from Chinese audiences. The movie received the high score of 9.2 out of 10 on Douban.com, a popular Chinese reviewing website for films or books.

The great popularity of Dangal in China is not coincidental. China and India share some common cultural characteristics. Both countries attach importance to filial piety, emphasize patriotism in sports, and promote “painful education” (????). The latter is especially visible in Dangal, where the father makes his daughters get up at 5 AM every day for training and makes them cut off their long hair.

State-owned news media Xinhua recently published an article about family values that can be learned from this film. The article says: “These Indian girls had no choice of life at all. It was their father who forced them and offered them new possibilities. In the perspective of gaining skills and obtaining knowledge, education is painful and is against one’s own instinct […] Parents need to lead their children and show them the way, as they don’t have the ability to judge for themselves.”

On Sohu, a recent article that received nearly 20 million views called on Chinese parents to “form a community” with their children. It said: “The medal is a joint achievement shared by father and daughter. Studying is a process of co-operation.”

[...]

In the Pear Video interview, the reporter asks Anke’s father if he will provide his daughter with more choices in the future. He answers: “She can have many choices, but this road [that I chose for her] will be doomed to fail if that happens.”

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Anke’s ‘tiger dad’: “I hope she will pursue music all her life.”

Chinese parents have a long-standing reputation for being strict, and for making huge sacrifices for their children’s education. Anke’s father is no exception; he is so determined to train a child music prodigy that he seems to be ready to deal with any hardships that might come. But why are these ‘tiger dads’ so desperate to push their daughters to become superstars?

Socio-economic reasons play a major role. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 76% of China’s urban population will be considered middle class by 2022. With this explosive growth of the emerging middle class, many Chinese parents see education as a crucial factor to improve the social mobility of their children.

For girls, this is especially important. The traditional patriarchal culture in China has negatively affected the social status of women throughout history. In contemporary society, their roles as wives and mothers are still often prioritized once they have babies. But as an indirect consequence of China’s one child policy, daughters have come to play a more important role in the family, generally receiving more parental attention and a better education than in the decades preceding the policy.

The role of the father in being the one who makes the most important decisions on children’s education comes from a long-standing tradition. An old Chinese saying “strict father, kind mother” (????) describes parenting in traditional Chinese society, where fathers are the stern disciplinarians who have more to say about their children’s education and than the mother. The mother’s role, traditionally, was defined by the persisting idea of “men rule outside, women rule inside” (“???,???”); meaning that women should be confined to the ‘inside’ sphere of family and home, occupying themselves with the household, while men deal with the ‘outside’ world of work, finances, community, etc.

The Chinese cultural concept of ‘mianzi‘ or ‘face’ also plays an important role. Representing a person’s reputation and prestige, parents gain ‘face’ when their children succeed. An ‘unsuccessful’ child would be a father’s shame.

As Anke’s father tells Pear Video: “If she would end up with a nine-to-five job, such as working in a musical instruments store, I would consider it a failure.”

[...]

One comment, receiving the most likes, said: “If this little girl is truly happy to play the piano, and she sure seems to be very gifted and willing to do so, I don’t think there’s any reason to criticize her father.”

Others also praised Dongzhi Chen, writing: “This dad is really awesome. Anyone who has kids will know that you can never force a child to do something. The media always wants to point out [these stories about] fathers who will force their own dreams upon their children, but the fact is that if the kid doesn’t want to do it, it won’t happen – no matter how she is pushed by her dad. The reason why this girl is so good now is because of her father’s guidance and education.”

But there are also those who oppose to the father’s parenting style: “I really hate this kind of parent. It’s fine to lead or guide your kid if she excels in some areas, but I feel disgusted that he just sits there and acts like he’s the kid’s almighty God.”

Some disapprovingly say: “He already has himself, why does he need a second person like him?”

There are also commenters who say that watching Dangal has changed their outlook: “After I watched this film, my attitude towards these kind of parents has changed completely.”

Others agreed, saying: “This movie truly is an inspiration – it is an encouragement for the tiger dad (??).”

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No Halal Food, et. al. #fundie whatsonweibo.com

The Anti “Halalification” Crusade of Chinese Netizens
By Manya Koetse

The “halal-ification” (????) of food products in China has been a hot issue on Chinese social media over the past two years. Discussions on the spread of halal food in China broke out again this week when food delivery platform Meituan Takeaway (????) locally introduced a special halal channel and separate delivery boxes for halal food. What especially provoked online anger was the line used by Meituan to promote its new services, saying it would “make people eat more safely” (Literally: “Using separate boxes for halal food will put your mind at ease.”)

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The image of Meituan’s promotional campaign for halal food that went viral on Chinese media: “Make you eat more assured.”

Many netizens said the measure discriminates against non-Muslims. They called on others to boycott Meituan and to delete the app from their phone. In response, the topic ‘Is Meituan Going Bankrupt?’ (#????????#) received over 3.7 million views on Weibo, with thousands of netizens discussing the issue under various hashtags.

[...]

A popular Weibo imam called Li Haiyang from Henan wrote a post in March titled “Raising Awareness about Islamic Dietary Law” (“?????????????“), in which he discussed the importance of national standards on halal food in China. Li Haiyang, who is part of China’s Henan Islam Society (?????????), wrote that all Muslims should follow the classic rules and abide by their beliefs, of which Islamic dietary laws are an important part, and that the PRC cannot discriminate against Muslim ethnic groups by refusing to legally protect Muslim halal food.

At the time, the imam’s post was shared over 500 times and besides much support, it also attracted many comments strongly opposing the imam’s views. A typical comment said: “China is a secular country ruled by an atheist Party, and firmly boycotts Islamic laws!” Despite backlash, there are multiple accounts on Weibo dedicated to informing people about halal food, such as ‘China Halal Food Web’ (@??????? 3100+ fans) or ‘Halal Cuisine Web’ (@?????, 3950 fans).

[...]

In the halal food debate on Chinese social media, the term qingzhen fànhuà (????) is often used – a new term that popped up in Chinese media in 2016. It basically means ‘halal-ification’ or ‘halal generalization,’ but because qingzhen also means ‘Islamic,’ it can also imply ‘Islamization.’

And that is precisely what is at the heart of the discussion on the spread of halal food on Chinese social media: those who oppose the spread of halal food in the PRC connect the normalization of Islamic dietary laws to an alleged greater societal shift towards Islam. The spread of ‘Islam’ and ‘halal food’ are practically the same things in these discussions through the concept of qingzhen.

[...]

On Baike, Baidu’s Wikipedia-like platform, the page explaining the term qingzhen fànhuà ???? says: “The term [halalification] originally only referred to the scope of the specific diet of [Muslim] ethnic groups, and has now spread to the domains of family life and even social life beyond diet, including things such as halal water, halal tooth paste, and halal paper towels.”

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Advertisement in Ningxia public transport for halal paper towels.

The Baike page explains that halal products are hyped by companies that are merely seeking to gain profits. It also says that halalification is “not good for national harmony” and “not conducive to the healthy development of Chinese Islam.”

[...]

The ‘No Halal Web’ account wrote: “This already is Muhammed’s Shanghai.” They later stated: “In the Islam world, the demands of Muslims are not as simple as just wanting a mosque, they want their environment to be Islamic/halal.”

Verified net user ‘Leningrad Defender’ (@???????, 254465 fans) posted photos of a segregated ‘halal’ checkout counter at a Jingkelong supermarket in Beijing’s Chaoyang area, wondering “is this even legal”?

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‘Halal’ checkout counter at a supermarket in Beijing’s Chaoyang area.

A Weibo user named ‘The Eagle of Great Han Dynasty’ (@????001) posted a photo on July 20 showing a bag of infant nutrition from the China Family Planning Association that also has a ‘halal’ label on it. He writes:

“What is the Family Planning Committee doing? Why is this halal? This is Jilin province, are we all Muslims? What is behind this, can the Committee tell the public? This is financed through the state, the public has the right to know!”

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Infant product by the Family Planning Committee that is labeled ‘halal.’

Others also responded to the photo, saying: “State-financed products should not be religious.”

[...]

One of the key arguments in the debate is not so much an opposition to halal food in itself, but an opposition to a normalization of ‘halal food’ (with the complicating factor that the Chinese qingzhen also means ‘Islamic’ and ‘clean and pure’), which allegedly discriminates against non-Muslims and increases social polarization. Many netizens said that if there are special boxes for food for Muslims, there should also be special boxes for food for Buddhists, Daoists, atheists, etc.

It is not the first time that the separation of facilities/services for Muslims versus non-Muslims triggers online discussions in China. In September last year, the introduction of special “Muslim-only” shower cabins at a Chinese university also provoked anger about alleged “Muslim privilege.”

[...]

A female netizen from Beijing wrote:

“Why are so many brain-dead people opposing Muslims these days? How does Meituan’s separation of halal food hinder you? What do you care if your yogurt is halal? If you don’t want to eat it, don’t eat it. There are plenty of people who will. Use your brain for a bit. Not all Muslims are extremists; just as not all people from the Northeast are criminals.”

[...]

One young female writer says:

“(..) Under the current national policy of protecting ethnic minorities, Muslims enjoy special privileges in the name of national unity. If this continues for a long time, the inequality inevitably will spread to other domains of society. Today it is about separate boxes for food; tomorrow it might be about separate seating areas in restaurants. And what’s next? Segregated neighborhoods? Trains? Airplanes? It might seem like a trivial matter, but if you ignore this, then those who are privileged now will go on and get greater privileges. The distancing of Muslims will only grow. I’m not saying this to alarm you. It’s self-evident that unequal benefits and the privilege of an ethnic group will eventually create conflicts between the people.”

They later say: “What we want is national unity, not religious solidarity. (..) You have your freedom of religion, which app I use is my freedom. Separate boxes and other special services will ultimately be reflected in the costs, and I do not want to pay religious tax. Luckily I have the freedom to delete this app and stop using it.”

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Ding Xuan #sexist whatsonweibo.com

Jiujiang University Lecture: “Being a Virgin Is the Best Gift for a Husband”
By Manya Koetse

The public lecture took place on May 14 at the Jiujiang University in China’s southeast province Jiangxi. It was themed around women’s virtues and “How to be a model woman in the new era.” It caught the attention of netizens when a student posted pictures of the lecture and its alleged Powerpoint slides, which contained sentences such as “being a virgin is the best gift for a husband” and “wearing revealing clothing is vulgar.”

The lecture was held by the 63-year-old Ding Xuan (??), a well-known expert from Hebei on traditional culture. She is also a member of the China Women’s Development Foundation and is often invited to speak at educational institutes, enterprises, and governmental organizations about female virtues or other topics related to Chinese traditional culture. Ding Xuan’s talk at Jiujiang University drew much controversy over the past week, with people condemning her “feudal thinking.” Many netizens said her speech countered gender equality. People also questioned why Ding was provided a platform at the university to spread these ideas.

[...]

Chinese media outlet Global Times reported that the school still supported their decision to host Ding Xuan, saying her seminar did not contain anything “inappropriate,” and that it was meant for female students to “respect themselves and find happiness.” On Weibo, however, many netizens are angered about Ding Xuan’s lecture: “Any ‘virtues’ that are specifically taught to women and not to men are bad! Men and women both need to avoid immorality, why would you specifically teach morals to women?”, some netizens said.

On video platform Tudou, What’s on Weibo found this video featuring one of Ding Xuan’s full lectures on “women’s virtues.” In this lecture, which was held in March of 2016, Ding talks about various issues on how to be a virtuous woman.

The lecture focuses on anything from posture to abortion. Ding stresses that women should not eat while walking, for example, should not raise their voice to greet their neighbors, should not cross their arms while talking, and mentions many other ‘rules’ that ‘virtuous women’ should live by.

Later in the lecture, Ding talks about abortion and shows the audience a disturbing anti-abortion video clip, featuring bloody abortion procedures and graphic pictures of aborted fetuses. While the sound of a crying baby is played, the clip shows blood-soaked fetal limbs and body parts.

Ding then continues to explain that women undergoing abortion are murderers who kill their own baby (“killed by their own mother by her own hand!“) – emphasizing that virtuous women do not “kill their children.”

[...]

About the statement on women wearing revealing clothing, she said: “[The people who criticized me] they did not attend my lecture and probably do not understand the circumstances. There were some students wearing revealing clothing that day, and I raised this issue. At the time, only a few people opposed to it and they left early.”

[...]

When BTimenow asked Ding why she raised the issue of revealing clothes to students that day, she answered: “They do not understand that I just said it for their own good. They are now nice-looking ladies who want to dress up, but they shouldn’t dress like they are not wearing anything at all. Revealing their thighs and exposing their cleavage; their breasts are showing. Don’t tell me we don’t bear any responsibility to teach our children? Women should dress properly to protect themselves. Firstly to prevent getting sick, secondly to prevent sexual harassment.”

In the interview, Ding also backed her statement about virginity: “We should remind girls to keep their chastity, which can guarantee the blessing of marriage. Who is willing to marry a woman who has had an abortion before marriage, and who has been someone’s mistress? But people can also have their own point of view, I don’t object to that.”

[...]

“It is not appropriate for a university to hosts such a lecture,” one person (@????) said. “Wake up! The Qing dynasty is over!”, others wrote.

Many Weibo users commented that if the university hosted these kinds of lectures for women, they should do the same for men. “[Many men] sleep with one girl after the other, yet they still expect to marry a virgin,” some said.

Another commenter said: “Ding Xuan is a woman herself, why does she belittle herself this way? She should return to the feudal times – she is not a modern woman.”