Yes, Chinese New Year is a reason to celebrate. Let’s enjoy the national holiday that spans one week. But, what of the Chinese women who are single? They feel the pressure to get married as they return to their parents’ homes.
As Chinese New Year is like Christmastime, it is primarily a family celebration. One option for single women is to spend it answering the questions of their parents about why they are not married yet.
Another option for single young women is to rent a boyfriend. Yes, this service is available online in a Craigslist sort of platform. In a recent SBS post, one man named Zhi Hao describes how he earns extra money during the Chines New Year by advertising himself as a boyfriend for rent:
“On New Year’s Eve I will prepare some gifts to bring her family and go have a few drinks with them. I think it’s great. I help solve people’s problems, and I earn money.”
But, is it as “great” as he says for the Chinese women who are not married? In China, if you are not married by the time you’ve reached 30 that is considered, well, unsuitable. Unmarried women approaching age 30 are known as “sheng nu” or “leftover women.” BBC reports that census figures show one in five women aged 25-29 are not married.
So, renting a boyfriend is an option some of these single women take to relieve the pressures from family about getting married when they return home for Chinese New Year.
There are definite issues with this practice of renting a boyfriend. Here are some but certainly NOT all of the issues. Firstly, it is deceitful. The women are lying to their families when they say that they have a boyfriend. True, they are doing it to avoid receiving implied messages that they are not good enough because they are unmarried. But, still, if the family were to find out about the fake relationship then the family would likely be more disappointed. In addition, lying to family is simply not a good practice to get into.
As well, when the single Chinese women rent boyfriends, they leave themselves vulnerable to being taken advantage of by the men who are ultimately strangers. These men could have fake profiles on the online platform where they had advertised their services and be completely different than they appeared on the computer screen. The women could be sexually assaulted when out with these men. Does the online contract for the services cover the humiliation and emptiness that haunts women after being sexually assaulted?
In addition, the worth of a Chinese woman appears to be hinging on whether or not they are married. It is not tied to their education level, intelligence or any other quality. In this context, a single, educated woman seems to have less value than a married one. Hello inequality?!
Of course, there are women who are happily single in China. Of course there are. They are educated and motivated, enthusiastic about life; they do not deserve to be discounted because they are not married. They are not the focus here in this post as here the writer is trying to bring attention to the pressures many Chinese single women feel during the Chinese New Year.
As well, this writer realizes that men also feel pressure to return to their families with a woman at their side during the celebratory time. This post focuses on female issues because this is a blog about women; each post centers on women.