Sunday was International Women’s Day, designated by the United Nations and recognized by many governments around the world as a time to celebrate women. But how exactly should women be celebrated?
Baidu, a Chinese search engine, featured on its home page a princess doll twirling on top of a music box surrounded by jewelry and other accessories.
Chinese social media exploded with criticism that Baidu was trivializing women.
“Baidu’s Women’s Day logo made me sick,” a user with the handle Ru Qing Ru Xiao posted on Sina Weibo.
“The Chinese still see women as an ornament, a Barbie doll, an easily manipulated windup toy,” the user added. “This is what a happy woman should look like in the eyes of many.”
Another Weibo user wrote: “Baidu and Google have demonstrated two opposite understandings of what this day means. I’m with Google.”
Some interpreted it more benignly, noting that as the figurine spins in Baidu’s animated illustration, it transforms from a teenage girl to a bride and then a mother, as the items encircling her change from lipstick to jewelry and then to a stroller and a milk bottle.
Baidu’s communications officer, Kaiser Kuo, said by email that the design “was by no means intended to objectify women or to encourage materialism or consumerism.”
He wrote: “Baidu is a company that employs roughly 100 women for every 108 men — a ratio that compares favorably not only with other tech companies in China, but globally. Every day we celebrate the accomplishments of women in their careers.”
Mr. Kuo said the artist who conceived Baidu’s illustration for Women’s Day was a woman who was inspired by “the music boxes she loved as a child.”
The illustrator, Y. Nana, had not responded by Monday to a request for comment. On her Weibo account she wrote: “My idea was simple: for all women to relax and think about their innocent dreams and a carefree life, if only for one day. Even women astronauts grew up loving dolls, right?”