Take a look at this picture – what’s your first impression? Personally (and perhaps due to my prior experiences as a kindergarten teacher in Japan) my first thought was: “How convenient that must be when it comes to potty-training!”
These Chinese “split pants” are considered completely normal for children to wear in China, so when a Chinese-American parent took their little boy out to play in Monterey Park in Los Angeles, they surely weren’t expecting a concerned citizen to call the police on them.
Luckily, the incident was quickly resolved, but once the Chinese media got hold of the story, net users in China were suitably miffed. “In a country rife with perverted imagery, this is a complete and total over-reaction. In fact, you could call it outright discrimination,” wrote one user. “Does this mean American children have to keep their butts covered up at all times?” pondered another.
Here’s a picture snapped by one of our RocketNews24 reporters during a visit to Beijing, showing an ordinary kid just hanging out in his split pants.
This incident mirrors a similar one last year when police were called to check up on a man of Chinese background snoozing in his underpants on a park bench in the same city. Again, Chinese netizens reacted strongly to what was felt to be an overreaction by the person who notified the police.
The “split pants” incident seems to be a case of moral panic combined with a significant lack of understanding of the customs of other cultures. However, it’s clear that the person who informed the police had the child’s best interests at heart, and perhaps it’s better to risk getting it wrong once or twice, when the alternative is to turn a blind eye and risk missing an actual problem.
What do you think of this story? Are the Chinese net users right to be offended? Or are these sorts of cultural misunderstandings unavoidable when it comes to co-existing together in a multi-cultural society?