Planet China

Skirting the rules

The Chinese are no strangers to apparently arbitrary decision-making, especially where local governments are concerned. But a new regulation on women’s skirts in Shanxi province may have reached new levels, say netizens. According to China News Service, the Party committee in Taiyuan, the provincial capital, issued a rule this month that bars entry into its building for women with skirts whose hemline is above the knee. No explanation for the ban was given but women were turned away by guards if their skirts were too short.

Sohu was nonplussed, arguing that there was no legal basis for banning shorter skirts in government compounds and warned that it was another instance of “meddling” in ordinary people’s lives.

Netizens were more caustic in their response, comparing the rule with the wardrobe restrictions that women face in Saudi Arabia. Others tried to work out the motive behind this ‘retrogressive’ move against female fashion choices. Suspicion fell on government officials and their propensity to invite mistresses back to their offices for ‘an afternoon nap’. As such the rule change rather backfired, convincing most commentators that the measure was a last resort to prevent ‘moral rot’ amongst Shanxi’s lusty civil servants. As one netizen wrote sarcastically: “The Shanxi Provincial Party Committee is doing the right thing! Is the wearing of a miniskirt for going to work or for doing something else?”

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