Guo Tao may have won millions of hearts with his acting chops, but recent revelations of chauvinistic chapters from his parenting book have made the popular Chinese actor the brunt of angry fans’ backlash.
On Thursday, China’s Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo was flooded with posts from the 50-year-old’s book titled “The Power of Fathers,” which many said was riddled with sexist tropes and violent excerpts involving Guo’s ex-girlfriend. The 2014 book revealed the actor’s parenting method in teaching his son “the power of being a man and father,” according to its synopsis.
In one chapter titled “The Only Time in My Life I Beat a Woman,” Guo describes how he lost his temper and hit his ex-girlfriend. “I dragged her into the car and slapped her in the face hard.” Guo writes that the violence came “instinctively,” and that he just wanted her to “cool down.” He then describes how his violent behavior taught her a lesson.
“After the slap, she was shocked, and then became well-behaved,” he wrote. “If you don’t show a clear attitude, she will walk all over you without any fear. … But if you set boundaries, she’ll behave and know what she’s supposed to do.”
Known for black comedies like “Crazy Stone” and “The Dead End,” Guo’s popularity reached new heights following the release of “Dad, Where Are We Going?” — a travel reality show he starred in with his son in 2013. But many of Guo’s 11 million fans on Weibo are now angry over their idol’s perceptions of women.
In his book, Guo mentions that he would never marry an actress, because they are “annoying … love vanity, and are very emotional.” He also says an ideal woman should have the traditional Chinese feminine virtues and should be “gentle, kind, courteous, restrained, and magnanimous.”
On Weibo, a hashtag of Guo’s name had been viewed hundreds of millions of times by Thursday evening, with many slamming the actor. Meanwhile, users of review platform Douban, have review-bombed Guo’s book, giving it a single star and dropping its aggregate score to 2.4 out of 10.
“Good for you, Guo Tao,” read an upvoted comment on Douban. “So the power of being a father is just to teach your son to beat women? This garbage only deserves to be posted and insulted on Weibo. Why did you have to print it and waste paper?”
Guo’s agency did not respond to Sixth Tone’s emailed request for comment by time of publication.
Guo isn’t the only Chinese celebrity who has been accused of harboring misogynist attitudes toward women.
Jiang Jinfu, a young actor who was detained by police after beating his ex-girlfriend in 2018, was accused last year of abusing another partner. Meanwhile, the racecar driver and acclaimed blogger Han Han has gone as far as saying that if a woman accepts a man’s invitation to dinner and a movie, it means she’s willing to sleep with him.
China’s entertainment sector is rife with gender stereotypes. Young television and film actresses face constant scrutiny if they choose to be single, middle-aged actresses struggle to find proportional representation, and popular male actors don’t hesitate to share their warped notions of masculinity.
Correction: A previous version of this story linked to an incorrect hashtag and cited an incorrect figure for total views.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Actor Guo Tao sits in the back seat of a car in Beijing, Oct. 23, 2013. People Visual)