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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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Are BMWs a Chinese Girl's Best Friend?    

By Peter V
5527 Views | 14 Comments | 7/10/2010 1:37:12 AM
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We at CLM aren’t the only ones worried about gold-digging Chinese women. The very popular Chinese dating show “If you are the one” (非诚勿扰), which Sarah Wang has blogged about for this site, had an incident recently which brought to the forefront the activity of women who prioritize the financial assets of a potential mate.

It seems on a recent episode of the show—during which a bachelor confronts 24 single women who pepper him with questions—one of the contestants, a 24 year old model, was offered a ride on a bicycle by an unemployed but sincere young man. She replied that she would rather “cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.” According to reports in the Washington Post, the comment incurred the wrath of the censors, who said it indicated a materialistic, "gold-digging" attitude that was the equivalent of prostitution. Government authorities also told TV stations to bar the woman from future shows.

According to Xujin Eberlein’s blog Inside-Out China, in the aftermath of this incident the show has installed a Party School teacher, a primly-dressed, middle-aged woman, to sit on the stage next to the popular commentator. Her presence is supposed to tone down the innuendo that seemed to pervade the show earlier. As well, contestants are no longer permitted to state their income (although mentioning the number of houses and cars seems permissible). And finally, more men with morally uplifting bios are being brought onto the show. Recently, for example, the show featured a selfless professional rescuer who kept saying, "It is my happiness to rescue people and state property" (he failed to take away his choice woman).

Relatively speaking, of course, the comment itself was innocuous. After all, sixty years ago Marilyn Monroe could croon “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” to a Hays-code Hollywood and have no one bat an eye. These days, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have contestants say things that—if the reaction to the BMW comment is any indication—would probably get them incarcerated in China (which would be fine with me, except I fear American television executives would just turn it into another reality TV series).

There is also a double standard in the government action. When Chinese newspapers everyday report another male government official with the hand caught in the cookie jar—the most recent of these involves the publication of the diary of one official recording his romps with six mistresses—to condemn a Chinese woman for wanting a ride in a nice car seems part overreaction, part misplaced priorities. It reminds me not a little of the desire many Chinese men have to marry a virgin while not expecting to retain that status themselves.

Despite this, I am of two minds regarding the government crackdown on the dating show. On the one hand, government attempts to impose morality have a dangerous record. China’s own dabbling in this area with the Cultural Revolution shows what can go horribly wrong when the state attempts to take control of the moral reins. And God knows what would happen should the Right-wing in America ever seize power. (I would move permanently, for one thing).

But unlike many liberals, neither do I think the government should take a hands-off approach to public morality. When I was in China there was a regularly-run television advertisement that I dubbed the foot-washing commercial. It opened with the scene of a mother giving her young son a foot bath—a very popular activity for all ages over here and, I might add, one I enthusiastically recommend. Next, it showed the woman, now in an adjoining room, repeating the ritual on her own elderly mother. We then cut to the son, who happened upon his mother in the midst of the above-mentioned undertaking. The final scene displayed the son walking from the bathroom with a basin of water and preparing to surprise his own mother with a footbath. Western friends would scoff at the commercial, but I found the effort at moral persuasion praiseworthy.

Indeed, if it were up to me, this is the form I would have preferred the game show response to have taken: moral persuasion, not force. Such a strategy would allow the placing of morally noble characters on the show while not evicting a contestant for uttering her own sincere, if morally suspect, opinion. By contrast, it seems to me CLM pretty much has got it right in dealing with gold-digging in internet dating. Gold-digging is not scamming. The site is not going to kick out those who prefer to go this route. However, the whole tenor of this internet dating site is to encourage and foster healthy, long-term relationships. One can see this in everything from the prose on the site's home page to Bren Lau's excellent blog posts pointing out the dangers and downsides associated with the practice to the women themselves. Keep up the good work!

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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(Showing 1 to 10 of 14) 1 2 More...
#2010-07-11 00:32:13 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

You can label it golddigging or prostitution or simply good marketing, but the reality is that lots of women from all parts of the world want to get their perceived value for their youth and good looks from the guy they marry and lots of men are prepared to pay for it. Do either of the parties in the transaction believe it will end in a lifelong relationship? I doubt it, although maybe he thinks he'll "win her love" and maybe she thinks she can hang in for a lifelong relationship so long as his life isn't much longer. I think they're both long term losers.

#2010-07-11 07:33:41 by thedragonb1 @thedragonb1

Good blog. THANKS for the shout-out, Peter! I asked my fiancée about this and she has justified it a few times. She knows my strong feelings against such a practice. Maybe she is fine with it because she has a couple of friends looking for the rich guy. With one, a guy gives her monthly money and she is with him for dinners and such. She says that some women in China grow up poor with no love from the family and they feel money is most important for their happiness. Some use their beauty to get a rich guy. Some will accept unhappiness for a rich life. It's a sad lifestyle. We never will know one's motives, but I am trying not to judge and if that's what they choose, so be it as long as I'm not involved. You are right John, both end up being losers with nothing (no love) in the end.

#2010-07-11 14:33:34 by masjonno @masjonno

It is interesting the discussion of BMW, I lived in Indonesia for a very long time and I do agree that a sign of wealth seems to count for a lot. The definition of BMW in Indonesia is "Be My Wife" and in part it is very true.

#2010-07-12 10:32:24 by kahnsfury @kahnsfury

They say that money can't buy you happiness, but in this day and age money can not only buy you happiness but can also buy your mates happiness as well. It's a sad situation when a person's whole reason for life is money. Even though I do understand that money is a necessary evil.

#2010-07-13 20:48:57 by panda2009 @panda2009

As an independent profession middle age woman, I wonder why I meet someone online who like use money and success career to tempt me? Someone want to buy a house for me even we'd never met each other? There are not a money label on my face. I feel that so many male cheaters take advantage of women's greed and vanity.

#2010-07-15 02:26:30 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

In defense of Chinese women (not that they need any defending) I want to quote the woman whose blog I mentioned, Xujun Eberlein. She has been a consistent viewer of the dating show, and it is her I have been relying for much of my information. In response to some questions, she recently wrote, "One thing that particularly touches me is that the majority men and women [on the show] have mentioned as a condition for a prospective mate: 'be filial to my parents.' You often hear a statement like 'It's my biggest happiness to make my parents happy.' This is sincerity. This is morality with 'Chinese characteristics'.

I think this is far more representative of the attitude of Chinese woman than the occasional golddigger. Definitely check her blog (Inside-Out China) for updates on this topic.

#2010-07-17 20:39:52 by baby1979 @baby1979

don't belittle all Chinese women, Chinese women are also dignified
my one friend told me,no money,no honey!
But I can't believe it!
sorry, my engish not good, but i want speak this!

#2010-07-18 19:43:41 by annie139 @annie139

I also heard the story: "she would rather 'cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.'".
But I view it differently. I don't think it has to be what the woman was thinking there, maybe there is someone behind there for the big show to attract audience. Or maybe the woman make a slip tongue while she was talking on site, who knows she won't regret what she was saying?
I do think deeply inside, everybody wants to married for love. Actually, we all love hardworking and intelligent person - that means he can earn money now and in the future; we all love interesting person - that means he love himself and love the world. Even the woman who's yelling that "she would rather 'cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.'" will tell her lover that "I want your love, not your BMW!"

#2010-07-18 19:55:58 by annie139 @annie139

Don't be cheated by a video and lost your reason, yes, it is true that "She replied that she would rather “cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.”"

But have you ever thought that maybe somebody just want to make a big story there? Or maybe the woman made a slip tongue? Or maybe she really didn't understant what she really needed very well while she was make the story?

Will you ask the woman another question: Will you want the man's love or will you want his "BMW"? I don't think the story has a good questioner if she/he could not find out the real side of the woman.

#2010-07-18 19:59:57 by annie139 @annie139

I don't think the government need to take more strenth to control the public morality besides the basic education and college education.

What the government needs to to is just make and control the good management policy to ensure everybody has the chance to work if they are hardworking person, and ensure they won't be hurt too much during their work and life.

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