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?
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!
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.
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.
Warning：The use of any news and articles published on eChinacities.com without written permission from eChinacities.com constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.
All comments are subject to moderation by eChinacities.com staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.
Please login to add a comment. Click here to login immediately.
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
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