‘Sperm bank and plastic surgery saviours of single women’: China outraged by influencer couple’s ‘frivolous’ and ‘disrespectful’ gender talk
A self-proclaimed feminist influencer in China is under fire after sharing on social media a video conversation with her boyfriend being described as “frivolous”, lacking any awareness of gender issues and “disrespectful” to women.
Zhang Xiaonian has more than 900,000 followers on Weibo, where she shares short videos about her daily life, advice and feminism.
On April 10, she posted a video with the accompanying text: “I never thought that the biggest stumbling block on my boyfriend’s way to donate sperm would not be me nor the quality of his sperm, but the unprofessional and unmotivated staff at the sperm bank”.
In the more than 10-minute video, Zhang is shown sitting on a couch with her boyfriend, Yang, having a conversation.
“Don’t let your ‘fertile water’ flow into others’ fields. You are giving away your sperm to someone else. What should I use then?” asks Zhang in the first of many statements that have caused anger and offence in China.
Zhang then said that by supporting her boyfriend to donate sperm on the eve of their third anniversary, she supported “independent women” and that “sperm banks and plastic surgery are saviours of single women”.
Yang said he is contributing to the “prosperity of the nation” by donating sperm and insinuated that Zhang should make a porn video by saying she could prepare “material” to help him and put it on his iPad.
Zhang said: “I’d rather recommend other male friends to donate.”
Yang replied: “Then you won’t have any way of knowing the quality of my sperm.”
They also included a video of a trip to Peking University Third Hospital’s sperm bank in Beijing to donate sperm, and later accused hospital staff of having a “bad attitude” while praising her fiancé as a “flawless feminist”.
The video was criticised immediately after it was published online.
“The doctors are not your attendants,” said one person.
“Every sentence was beyond my imagination, and every scene was a shocker,” said another commenter.
Many questioned the couple’s claim to be “feminists”, citing their “frivolous” attitudes and “disrespectful” comments and their lack of understanding of feminism and the situation for most women in China.
One Weibo commenter said: “She implicitly presents a male perspective through a kind of ‘feminism’ in name only, and a male perspective full of personal ego and prejudice.”
“What’s even more outrageous is that the narrator of this whole incident, full of male consciousness, is a woman – a self-proclaimed ‘independent woman’,” the commenter added.
Another person questioned how Zhang, a graduate of China’s elite Tsinghua University, could be so ignorant of gender issues. “She’s a Tsinghua graduate? But posts stuff like this? Please don’t show up at alumni events any more! It’s too hilarious.”
“A sperm donor is a feminist? It’s too easy for men,” said another commenter.
In 2023, sperm banks in several Chinese provinces called publicly for sperm donors, sparking a public debate. According to the Chinese Ministry of Health, sperm banks are a form of assisted reproductive technology, and only couples can use the technology, contradicting Zhang’s reference to “independent women”.
Zhang closed the comment section on the post after it went viral and was inundated with critical comments.
The video of the couple’s conversation remains on Weibo and at the time of writing, had received more than 15 million views and 50,000 shares. – South China Morning Post