When I was about 13, a male family friend told me, “Because you’re a girl, and I know you like to study [which is ironic, because I actually didn't], I’m just offering some words of advice to you now – you don’t need to invest so much time or effort into your education because when you grow up, you’ll realize that your husband won’t like it if you’re too smart, too successful or too strong.”
Today as I watched the above video from Journeyman Pictures, I was reminded of that advice. Even though, at the time, I didn’t quite understand what he meant, I considered it odd. Or was it I who was odd for considering it perfectly normal for a woman to be just as, if not more, successful than a man?
I couldn’t help but wonder again, while watching, how success might limit women from finding love in a country like China. And if you are already successful, how do you find love?
In a country where there are about 100 women for every 118 men, shouldn’t it be easier for women? Yet the pressure is squarely on them. If they reach 28, they’re branded “leftover,” and finding a husband becomes exponentially harder. (Here’s Leta Hong Fincher’s excellent piece on this subject.) Traditional thinking also dictates that one has to marry and have children. Parental pressures also don’t help.
Asked if men are afraid of strong women [女强人] in China, Deng Feng tells the interviewer in the video, “What happens is that in Chinese tradition men were regarded as superior to women. So when a female entrepreneur is strong at work, she may also appear strong at home by habit. The man isn’t afraid but finds it very hard to adjust.”
And whose fault is that?
The options we’re left with aren’t pretty. To find a match, a woman could join one of the high-end matchmaking events organized by money-seekers, or head over to “marriage markets” in public parks, often attended by desperate parents seeking to marry off their children.
If it’s love you’re after though, the only real option is to go with the flow and see what happens. It’s not the most conventional or even the safest route, but if you’re not willing to try, who knows what you won’t find?