A video clip showing a woman hitting a government official with a mop went viral on Chinese social media Sunday, sparking renewed discussion about the country’s epidemic of workplace sexual harassment.
In the 14-minute video, a woman grabs a mop, rushes into a man’s office, and proceeds to whack him over the head while furiously accusing him of sending her unwanted lewd messages. The man passively accepts the beating, repeatedly apologizing and begging the woman’s forgiveness.
“It was meant to be a joke!” the man says, covering his face with his hands. “Oh my God, I didn’t expect this would happen!”
A GIF shows Wang whacking her abusive boss over the head with a mop. From Weibo
According to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, the man in the video, surnamed Wang, works as a district-level deputy director of poverty alleviation in Suihua, a city in the northeastern Heilongjiang province. The woman, surnamed Zhou, reportedly works for the same bureau.
Officials from the district’s publicity department told Xinhua the man had been dismissed for violating Communist Party regulations. The woman had also violated the law but would not be punished due to her “mental illness,” the officials added, without elaborating.
An employee at the district’s poverty alleviation office told Sixth Tone on Monday afternoon that staff were unavailable for interviews as they were attending a meeting. Whether the meeting was related to the video is unclear.
Police in Suihua said they received a sexual harassment report from Zhou four days ago that they were still investigating, according to domestic media.
Online, Zhou has received an outpouring of support for her actions, with some commentators arguing that women should learn from her zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment. On China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, a hashtag related to the video had been viewed over 14 million times as of Monday evening.
“Girls should learn from this woman’s great fearlessness to fight against the unspoken rules (in the workplace),” one blogger wrote in an article for social platform WeChat. “If you encounter such unspoken rules again, you must bravely raise the mop and hit the boss.”
In January, the country implemented a new civil code stating for the first time that schools and workplaces are responsible for curbing sexual harassment, though the law doesn’t specify punishments for perpetrators.
Last month, the southern city of Shenzhen released China’s first guide to preventing sexual harassment in schools and workplaces.
Additional reporting: Chen Qi’an; editor: Dominic Morgan.
(Header image: Screenshots from the viral video of Wang whacking her abusive boss over the head with a mop. From Weibo)