Money Honey: The Cost of Dating in China

Money Honey: The Cost of Dating in China
Feb 11, 2011 By Jessica A. Larson-Wang, eCh , eChinacities.com

Over the past week, a video has surfaced and made quite an impression on Chinese netizens. The subject? A woman from Shanghai throwing a fit in the middle of a car dealership, demanding her boyfriend buy her a car. The man claims that the car doesn’t “suit” her and the woman jumps into the car and starts driving it up and down the showroom, presumably threatening to simply drive the car off the lot, until the man finally gives in, pulls out his credit card, and buys the car for the woman. The video has sparked a lot of debate about Shanghainese women, and perhaps Chinese women in general. Is this attitude of entitlement really that prevalent? Why would the man give in to such childish behavior? What would possess a grown woman to throw a temper tantrum in a public place, no better than a three year old demanding her mother buy her candy at the checkout counter?

Shanghai woman and car
Photo: MK Media Productions

For many Chinese men, especially in the bigger cities, falling in love, finding a girlfriend and eventually getting married can be a huge financial strain. Chinese women have certain expectations of their men that, while are not completely unknown in the West, are often looked down upon. Behavior that an American or English man might consider “gold-digging” is often quite acceptable in Chinese society. When my husband, who is Chinese, and I started dating, he was at first a bit bothered by the fact that he would not be able to shower me with gifts, or later, when we got married, to buy me an apartment. These were not important to me and neither I nor any of my immediate peer group had ever chosen men based on the size of their wallets. I soon learned, however, from friends, that many of my Chinese male friends had experienced being dumped by girls for not ponying up gifts from the start. The girls expected to go out to eat every day and have their new boyfriend foot the bill, expected new cell phones, and expected gifts for their parents upon a visit home. One of my Chinese male friends put it to me bluntly that he could not afford a girlfriend right now, girlfriends were simply too expensive!

Dating shanghai girl
Photo:Jaye

Some of this, of course, is cultural. The feminist movement never hit China in the same way that it did the West, and many cultural ideas about gender roles are still quite traditional -- the man is the breadwinner, the woman the head of the household. While a wife may, and often does, work outside the home, her husband is supposed to be able to provide enough for the both of them. Parents encourage their daughters to choose a man with a good background, someone who can provide. Whereas, when I told my parents about my husband, they were first concerned with whether or not we were in love, and how he would treat me, most Chinese parents would first ask what the man’s job is, what is his level of education, where’s his hukou from, and what do his parents do. And while a woman might marry up, marry a man above her own social and economic status, a man almost never does so. In fact, this is such a cultural taboo that some parents caution daughters against earning higher graduate degrees, as a woman with a PhD is almost certainly limiting herself to a very small pool of men.

China marriage and wedding
Photo: sanfamedia.com

While these things are to be expected in a society with very traditional gender roles, what explains the over the top behavior of the Shanghai woman in the car dealership? When did the idea of a man providing for his wife become perverted into a display of entitlement and greed that many claim exists in the women of China’s premier cities. Beijing’s TV station has been broadcasting a TV show recently in which a woman is lured away from the man of humble means who is obviously her soul-mate by a “boss,” a rich man who can give her son an education in a premier school, who can buy her anything she desires, and will leave his fortune to her when he dies. The media takes a mixed approach to this idea – the woman is shown as conflicted, and it is clear that she and the rich man are not a match made in heaven, yet her choices are portrayed as understandable and necessary. Although the show has not finished yet, so I can’t say what the final outcome will be, the underlying message seems to be that wealth is more important than happiness. And when so many, from parents to peers to media, are telling us that wealth should take precedence over happiness, is it any wonder that some women might, in the absence of happiness, simply choose more and more ostentatious displays of wealth? It is important, however, to understand that it is only relatively recently that this level of wealth is even attainable for all but the elite among the elite in Chinese society. For a generation only once removed from revolution and starvation, the rabid pursuit of wealth must seem like a great privilege, and it is not surprising that those who have not yet experienced generations of such wealth might have exaggerated ideas about its actual importance.
 

Related Links
Charisma Man and Dating In China
China Online Dating Guide, Part 1: Don't Believe the Hype
Boys, Boys, Boys: Dating Chinese Guys

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8 Comments

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1

tanbank34
comment|73846|1638305

eh bien!

Mar 21, 2017 23:02 Report Abuse

2

Guest2239322
comment|43477|248813

I also met a lot of gold diggers girls who would only talk to my rich chinese friends who pays the bills. These girls are like hookers to me. THey just look for money and in return they can open their legs. I even met the girl that hired me .She is skinny like a stick no tities ,disgusting face ,no legs, , zero tities .She said she broke up from her bf because he can not buy a apartment.She said she waited for a long time. I taught she is is lucky to have a boyfriend. I would not even fuck for charity. These mantalities making me sick really.Money ,money,money. Basically it is cheaper to fuck pretty hookers than marrying these ugly gold diggers.

Jan 31, 2014 19:39 Report Abuse

3

Marqus
comment|36888|232446

Love is not = to money! I married a beautiful and elegant chinese lady. Not once she demanded anything to do with money . It was about the respect one has for another, Money should not be the main principle of starting a relatioship. The wealth can be created together as we did.

Apr 26, 2013 20:35 Report Abuse

4

ShenzhenGuy
comment|19454|58685

Women do this in general. You just have to tell them "No" stick to it and endure the evil eyes'/whining/nagging/ anti social behavior/bad attitude/hate filled words/etc. Otherwise they'll hate you because they don't respect you.

Sep 06, 2011 23:11 Report Abuse

5

chamaflauge
comment|48163|5280

lucky dog!

Jul 08, 2014 04:24 Report Abuse

6

JD
comment|24207|52619

Bingo. Keep your eyes on the prize, and the right person will come along the ride with you.

if you have no backbone, you will be exploited by everyone.

Feb 07, 2012 00:47 Report Abuse

7

morgenfrue
comment|20695|63125

very good advice been there done that does not mather wich country many are after the wallet

Oct 17, 2011 03:05 Report Abuse

8

superlady
comment|18562|56956

It is very true, everyone is individual, dont take the people as a whole, still there are many good chinese ladies go for the man only for LOVE.

Jul 29, 2011 00:22 Report Abuse