One thing about dating a Chinese woman is that I often hear interesting things from or about her friends and colleagues. The more I learn, the more I think that the mentality of the Chinese is stuck somewhere prior to the 60s.
Drinking and Smoking:
Ailsa, one of Crystal’s colleagues, asked Vivian, another colleague; “Does your husband smoke?” She replied, “no.”
“Does he drink?” Again Vivian replied, “No.”
“What is wrong with him?” Ailsa then demanded.
This was followed by a long conversation in which Ailsa insisted that a person who does not drink or smoke will be unable to go out and socialise with other Chinese men. She insisted that anyone who does not drink would be regarded as being less than a man and would never be promoted.
She ended by insisting that Vivian should break up with her husband and find herself another man who drinks and smokes.
In any other country it would be seen as good to have a husband who doesn’t drink. I know too many people who suffered from having drunken fathers who would get violent when drunk and beat their wives and children for no reason. Men who go out drinking regularly will also waste more money and are far more likely to have affairs. China is one of those places where wives seem to often turn a blind eye to men having affairs, out of fear of being rejected and cast aside should they object. In China a single woman over 27 is seen as a “forgotten woman” and it is extremely hard for a divorced woman to remarry.
Then there is smoking. It is widely known and accepted that smoking is a major cause of death and disease, but China produces 2/3 of the cigarettes in the world and over 60% of Chinese men regularly smoke. There is only one country in the world where more people per capita smoke than in China. The official figure for women is much lower, as it is known that smoking will harm an unborn infant and it is thought to be unacceptable for women, but I have heard from students that as many girls as boys smoke. The only difference is that the girls do it secretly.
Despite being unhealthy, smoking is still seen as cool and sexy in China. Chinese girls are attracted to men who smoke, as they seem to be more influenced by superficial ideas of coolness and feel more of a need to conform, than in Britain.
Men see smoking as a way to assert their masculinity, to bond and to fit in. They resist any attempts to stop them smoking. Smoking in toilets is also common, to hide the smell of the shit in the waste paper baskets. Chinese don’t flush toilet paper. Even where there are signs against it, toilets are often used as a smoker’s lounge. This is especially true in less wealthy regions, where fitting in is far more important than anything else.
During the Spring Festival Light (a male colleague of Crystal’s) returned home to visit his family. During the two weeks he was back they had arranged matchmaking sessions between him and six prospective brides.
Arranged marriages used to be very common in China and are still popular in rural areas. Matchmaking is still very common. Because many young Chinese adults spend so much time working, working unpaid overtime, working extra jobs and obsessing about getting money for their first home, they have very little time for a social life. In some big factories, where workers work, eat, sleep and live in the factory compound, it is not unknown for the company to arrange mass matchmaking events and group weddings between employees. The matchmaking allows busy professionals a chance to meet other people interested in marriage.
However, there is a lot of pressure on young people to find a husband or wife. The parents of one of the girls insisted that Light should stay the night, suggesting that he should sleep with their daughter. They had coached the daughter in what to do, in order to please a man in bed. They felt that if Light slept with the girl, then he could not back out of the marriage.
In the morning they asked their daughter if she and light had had sex. Feeling a bit insecure, she replied “No.” in response to which he mother allegedly shouted, “Stupid girl! You’ve ruined everything!”
Romance is not yet dead in all of China, but in the countryside they have buried it in a ditch, where nobody can find it.
During classes my students often get excited by pictures of famous musicians, actors, business men, athletes and other celebrities. When asked why they like him, the most common answer is, “Because he’s rich!”
Some of Crystal’s family don’t like her dating a foreigner. They see dating as a short step to marriage and have very firm ideas of what a suitable husband should be.
According to her grandfather (who is the most closed minded) he should be: Chinese, of Han ethnicity, a member of the communist party and working for the government. Racism exists even within China, as the Han look down on the other 55 ethnic groups as poor, weak and unimportant, while the other groups (especially in outlying areas) regard the Han as rude, arrogant, obnoxious, smelly, arrogant, stupid… the list goes on.
In addition they have other requirements for a boyfriend. He must have at least a million in savings and he must buy her an apartment. Actually, those are their conditions for a husband, but they think that dating anyone who does not measure up is a waste of time. Like many Chinese, they think she should find a husband as soon as possible, or she is failing the family and will be a failure for life.
Family pressure is by far the most common reason for marriages between Chinese and foreigners to fail. My friend Phil’s ex-wife left him when he was at work, taking their baby with her, because her father had offered to buy her an apartment, as long as she left “the foreigner”. Another of Phil’s friends lost his fiance, when she was forcefully abducted from his home by her relatives and forced to marry a Chinese man from their village against her will.
There is now also government pressure on Chinese girls, trying to deter them from dating foreigners, by suggesting that we are all spies. This, at least, was the message of the propoganda cartoon Dangerous Love. https://thenanfang.com/chinese-residents-warned-spies-posing-laowai-boyfriends/
The Chinese government is so opposed to the idea of foreigners dating Chinese women that when a white man won the dating show If You Are the One (非诚勿扰) he was edited out of the program. The channel refused to air a show in which the Chinese contestants chose a white foreigner over the Chinese participants. http://shanghaiist.com/2010/08/05/white_guy_getting_the_girl_censored.php
I recently attended a meeting at which a police spokesman addressed all the foreign teachers in Bao’an about visa requirements and illegal immigration. He said that a lot of people from Africa come over to Guangzhou and stay on illegally, in order to set up export businesses. During this talk he said that the Chinese call Guangzhou the “chocolate city”, because of all the blacks.
A lot of Chinese are wary of blacks. They aspire to be white, adding whitening chemicals to most beauty products, and see the white, western nations as a model to aspire towards. However, they are wary of blacks. They often regard them as drug dealers and criminals and are frightened if approached by a black person. (this doesn’t stop them wanting to touch the hair of random black strangers)
A black teacher told me that when she was teaching at a primary school one of the teachers would threaten the kids by saying, “If you don’t behave, we will let the Black take you home.”
There are times when I love China, but there are also times when I am shocked by how backward people seem.