Seven’s post yesterday touched on many of the aspects of getting married in modern China. Today I’d like to look at a few of those issues closer to wrap up this five-part series (just check the archive).
Seven called them “expired” but the more popular term in Chinese is “Left-over.” The following video features “Left-over women”(shengnu), the term describes women who are seen as being unmarriageable. One factor being that they are older than 25 (Chinese women are pretty much expected to marry as soon as they finish college), and that they make a lot of money or are highly educated (Chinese men find this kind of woman intimidating).
Before you feel too bad for these women in the video, or start wondering why they are still single, allow me to translate a snippet,
“A man with a house and a car is what women long for
Marrying the right person is their biggest wish
I will ask if you have a car, I will ask you if you have a house
My mother will also ask you how much savings you have
If you have no car, if you also have no house
Hurry move aside and don’t block my way”
In America we might classify these women as gold-diggers, but in China these are becoming requirements for marriage.
One of my friends recently told me that she had been dating a man for 5 years, but because he didn’t have his own car, her parents would not approve of their marriage. Sadly, she ended up breaking up with him instead of confronting her parents.
The list of what makes an ideal husband can be quite different from what we might say in the West.
I’ve asked students about this before and often their top five factors are salary, housing, height, looks, and education. You might have noticed that there is nothing in the top five that actually indicates whether or not he is a good person, or whether or not they are in love (based on an in class poll in Guangxi). The really crazy part is that even when you point this out, they don’t usually change their answers.
As Seven pointed out yesterday, “Marriage is between two families,” it is not just about marrying the person you love. Anything else would be considered unfillial.
My final example of this comes from a homosexual student I knew a few years ago. He had known his entire life that he was different, but didn’t dare expose himself. I was the only other person that knew his secret. After a very long conversation about what his future plans might be he casually told me that he would probably just marry a woman to make his grandmother happy.
This is the reality for homosexuals in China. There was even a recent report on a marriage club in Shanghai where lesbians and gays would enter into fake marriages so that their parents would finally leave them alone (the article provides another fascinating look at marriage). It seems extreme, but like I have said before, Chinese people are willing to sacrifice for their families in ways that are hard for foreigners to comprehend.
If I haven’t yet covered an aspect of Chinese weddings or marriage that you are interested in please let me know by leaving a comment below. There is still much more that could be said, and I will come back to it eventually.