By Ryan Kam
Parenting issues have always been a hot topic on Hong Kong social media. Recently, a video interview clip in which Cantopop diva Miriam Yeung touched upon her parenting experience has gone viral online and sparked another round of debate.
The interview was conducted in 2015, but reappeared online as a short clip about two weeks ago. In the video, Yeung described how she stopped her son from developing tastes that are considered stereotypically girlish, including liking Elsa, a character in the Disney hit “Frozen”:
He is a boy, why play with an Elsa toy?
I pasted his face on Elsa’s image and my boy immediately said, “No, mommy, no.”
He likes playing with kitchen toys, I find that strange. Won’t such play turn him into a sissy?
I am worried that he will start liking the color pink, so I told him “No, mommy doesn’t like it. Don’t watch that.”
「我將佢張相key落白色（Elsa）度，跟住我個仔即刻話『No, mammy no!』」
Her words attracted criticism for her parenting style and for playing into gender stereotypes.
King Jer, a popular Facebook-based entertainment news channel, highlighted the video clip and commented:
A LBGT group, Action Q HK, commented on Facebook about the interview:
Yeung finally wrote a long apologetic post on Facebook and clarified that she had changed her mind over the past two years since the interview was originally conducted:
Yeung may have changed her attitude, but her previous parenting style is still the mainstream. On social media, many parents feel there is nothing wrong with stopping boys from playing with toys marketed to girls. For example, here are some comments from the Stand News’ Facebook page:
But Yeung lets you see what she did.
I don’t believe others will encourage kids to explore new things.
Moreover, it is common to see parents in Hong Kong worrying about whether their kids “perform” their gender correctly. For example, on Baby Kingdom, a well-known parenting forum, you can see parents discussing issues such as “how do we know a boy is sissy?” Most of the answers end up labelling certain bodily gestures or tones of voice as “sissy.”
Even if the parents are liberal, they might be pressured by friends or extensive family members to make sure their children conform to gender norms. A parent wrote on Baby Kingdom:
Elsewhere in the world, people are challenging gender stereotypes for children more and more. In Britain, activists have launched a campaign called “Let toys be toys” to appeal to toy companies to ditch overt gender labels on their products. And online shopping giant Amazon has also scrapped the boy/girl category in the toy department’s search engine. It seems Hong Kong might have a ways to go if it wants to keep up.
This article originally appeared on Global Voices.