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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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Goddess of Chastity    

By Garreth Humphris
2722 Views | 2 Comments | 3/31/2012 12:17:49 AM

The Goddess of Chastity (courtesy of Weibo)

An interesting piece of material floated over the Chinese Internet last week, that being Tu Shiyou, the proclaimed ”Goddess of Chastity”.

How did she get this title? It appears the 38 year old Ms Tu is advertising for a husband (and not using CLM!), seeking Party Members, public servants and virgins, with a no sex-life probationary period of 3 years after marriage.

Advertising on Sina Weibo (a Chinese version of Twitter), she is looking for a life partner nationwide and is searching for an upright and honest person under the age of 40 with a Masters Degree or higher and a virginal Party Member. Within 6 hours some 50,000 people viewed her plea.

For many Chinese internet users, it was seen as a ploy similar to an incident that occurred a few years ago with Sister Feng, a plain-looking girl advertising for marriage with high demands.

Although most comments seem to be joking about the incident, or even suspecting the story is some great advertising hoax (we’ll wait to see!) it did get me wondering about the actual requirements of the lady in question and how they might relate to the ”traditional” question that we have been exploring of late. And why would she use such a public avenue to advertise her plan?

Apart from the (apparantly) strange 3 year trial marriage ”abstinence of anything naughty” clause, she’s looking for a fairly ’decent’ guy only - certainly a Party Member is important, this would usually mean the person had a position in government or education circles and since the lady appears quite educated, herself possessing a Master’s Degree, it would be reasonable to ask for a person of equal academic status as an important search criteria. As well as someone about her age-group.

The trial marriage thing is a bit weird but in perspective it might also be a reasonable thing, since she is ’trying out’ compatibility to live and grow old together for a few years and as a respectable woman, she can't easily move in with a boyfriend. I guess if they don't consummate the marriage, she can ’opt’ out of the relationship and still be an untouched maiden!

So, all the silliness aside, it did remind me of a conversation I had with a Chinese lady I met a while ago. It was one of those excruciatingly ’Chinese’ conversations where everything was laid on the line - a 20 minute meet and greet - ok, let's get married affair!

It had been ’setup’ by a mutual friend so it is hard to know exactly what was said and explained to the lady...certainly from my perspective at the time she was a ’nice person’ I should meet...no more than a 5 minute passing comment....so ”ok, I'll meet her” was my response.

The meeting was in a coffee-shop. And we met without too much trouble, started talking and then she started explaining her life to me...then she said something peculiar ”You are my last chance at happiness!”.

Being forthright and upstanding, I was sort of offended by this...I don't want to be anyone’s last chance at anything! I mean, if in fact I am...I don't want it rubbed in my face!!!

Her next question was to insist I come to her home-town...to meet her family (and I assume get approval for marriage). I bailed, not wanting to go to coffeeshops to have a cup of coffee, but come out married.

But after a few years in China, I have mellowed a little and maybe understand a little better where this comment came from! I guess for a slightly older lady in China who is divorced, the outlook on matrimonial bliss is probably not so good - even just matrimony! Her community generally places her in the ”she’ll look after her parents now!” category so dating, travel or any ’deviation’ from this role is frowned upon and commented upon!

Older men chase beauty and lust everywhere in the world. So having a ’suitable’ man available and interested enough to want to meet is probably a fairly important thing...now, before you think this is a pompous statement, I am pretty aware of who I am and what I look like...I am not a ’catch’ by any measurement! I am over 6ft and over 170kg, not 'cute' or ’handsome’ in any way! Moody, brooding and independant, I am a pain to live with no doubt!

The other pressure I hinted at is I have no idea how ’embellished’ my friend happened to make my persona.
Even the lady’s pre-conception of who or what I might be is tainted with unreality...foreigner=rich, fat=rich, non-judgemental attitude=love, passport=opportunity ...all mixed with the somewhat false ideas that foreigners will comply fully with Chinese notions of family, community and filial responsibility because one married they become ’instantly Chinese’!

It is also important to realise that most Chinese function as a ’family group’, working with other family members, running family banking systems, travelling on holidays together, deciding things in a group and imposing them on the others...for the most part, you are dating the girl, but marrying the family! It is similar in most other ”traditional” countries but nowhere near as liberal as my Australian upbringing (and I suspect American, British, German and many others).

I know from other observations of the socio-political moonscape of Chinese Dating that there is a lot of minstrel-type lyrics and ’little grounded’ conjecture and dream-making in what happens.

There is also the ’signs’ that Chinese have that are indecipherable to most foreigners - the lady will ask an innocent sounding question about X, and your next X action or comment means Y outcome rather than just plan answering X...I don’t mean that this is anything new or even China-specific, but in China it takes on a diabolical speed because in order to meet you, she is actually thinking marriage. ”Do you like me?” is actually ”When will you marry me?”

And the emotional side of the relationship seems secondary to the practical details of securing a certificate. I know this seems harsh, from a western notion we want to ’know’ a person a little before we commit - in China, the other appears more prevalent (especially with ’traditional’ women) that you commit and make ”it” work. I have mentioned this idea of ”mutual respect as we grow old together” before in past blogs, whereas western dating seems to focus on more ’emotional issues’ first before a long-standing mutually respectful relationship ...that’s how it goes in the fairytales anyway!

To give you this example, I dated a lady for about 6 months before I discovered she had a child...now you would say that this should be pretty obvious, since most Chinese women over 30 and previously married probably have a child - but when I asked, the questions were not answered as directly or completely as I would have suspected that type of question should have been - for example, her answer to ”Do you have a child?” was something akin to ”No, I have no child living with me” when the extended answer is ”my son lives at my mother’s home and when I have a marriage certificate both they and my sister will come and live in our house together!”.

Her answer is not dishonest, but it might be construed as misleading! This is not an isolated incident, it is part of the Chinese character - most of my workers/colleagues have been like that - withholding important secondary information that might influence a decision, had you known it! It is not my intention to be disparaging - it is a key area of miscommunication that I have battled with for 10 years of living in China! You need to be aware of it, and ask incessant questions (as the Chinese do!) to get somewhat closer to the ”real” answer that you might expect from your original direct question!

My final comment on this is also be wary of the would-be matchmakers - although they say they have no influence or are ”only thinking of you”, they are usually in constant contact with the ”betrothed”, cajoling, encouraging, scheming meetings and situation where you are ’forced’ together.

In one incident, my ’well-meaning’ landlord gave a key to my house to his sister (actually a friend of the family) so that she could go to my home and surprise me about how good a housekeeper she was - I was certainly surprised when I arrived home around midnight to find a sobbing lady and a ruined meal awaiting me! Given I had never before laid eyes on the girl, my Western sensibilities about privacy and intrusion were of course fully aroused and I called another friend to try to get to the bottom of the incident...some hours late, we had sorted out most things calmly. I sent the girl home in a taxi sobbing, I wasn’t sure what to do, but she couldn’t stay in my house..after all my shirts were nicely ironed and the ”intent” had been well-founded, but maybe the execution wasn't so well accomplished!

So back to Ms Tu, I do hope that she can find the kind of person she is looking for - because in a country of 1.6 billion people you would hope that there is someone compatible with you! Maybe that is the actual dream we are all chasing on CLM.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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(Showing 1 to 2 of 2) 1
#2012-04-02 18:55:25 by agas @agas

why Europeans only like chinese not Indians? because of the colour?

#2012-04-04 14:35:45 by qwerty24 @qwerty24

Thanks Garreth, always good to get somebody else's thoughts, saves re-inventing the wheel.

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