Chinese Women, Asian Women, Online Dating & Things Chinese and Asian

Gender Roles and Language in China - what you cannot say as a laowai

From: Australia New South Wales Sydney @oldghost Time : 2018-04-28 19:19:14

From many years ago, a very special Chinese girlfriend, living in Australia, would often say 'Shenjing bing!  (you maobing)'  - every day in fact, and several times!  Naturally I accepted it as a kind of affectionate cheerful scolding, rather like 'silly twit' or just 'crazy'!  So it was a phrase I picked up, thinking it was perfectly acceptable.  Now it happened a few years later that I was chatting with an online acquaintance - before the days of QQ, probably on Yahoo or MSN.  I had met her in the chat rooms at AFF and she was enthusiastic about chatting with me, despite very rudimentary English.  Every time she addressed my as Laoshi Laoshi Laoshi but of course then I was nothing of the kind.  Finally I said to her 'shen jing bing, bu shi nide laoshi 神经病,不是你的老师  and she went totally ballistic! She was just enraged.  For three years we never spoke afterwards, until one day she forget and resumed sweet-talk until I reminded her I was the 'shen jing bing laoshi' - that was the end of that.

The moral is that it is ok for the female but far from ok for the male.  Language double standard.

Along the same lines is 'taoyan' 讨厌 which I thought should be perfectly ok ... but time and time again I met 'bu xing, bu gai shuo taoyan' ‘男性不能说讨厌’since it is considered effeminate, cissy language - men are expected to be 'macho' it seems.  When I look for a phrase to express extreme irritation politely, it is hard to get a direct answer, no one wants to tell you Chinese swear words, no matter how mild, 'tamade', or 'made' seem unacceptable, so I just resort to a strong 'aiya' ..



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@Anonymous26179 Time : 2018-04-30 07:27:05 #1

After she went ballistic on you surely you looked it up as far as the meaning of the words in the three years you didnt talk to her, maybe asked a local chinese man to translate it for you? As well she is not very forgiving pushing her culture only as the only way it goes between the two of you? 

Yes chinese women expect men to be very masculine, they will look down at you if you are not. Dont ever cry in front of your chinese woman either. I find this interesting in as far as chinese men act masculine but dress very metrosexual and not many are rugged looking either. I have had many chinese women tell me that western men look more masculine than chinese men and that is part of the attraction to us. The bigger our noses are the more they are attracted to us.

good post that alot of us westerners can learn from...

From: Australia New South Wales Sydney @oldghost Time : 2018-05-01 18:08:47 #2

@anon I didn't need to look it up, I can speak functional Chinese - in our culture it is fine to say 'you're crazy' (which she palpably was), and it was fine for Chinese women friends to say it to me often and at the drop of a hat, at which I always just laughed.

I remember a very fine looking 40s woman from Changsha who told me she despised all Shanghai men since they were all 'cissies' 'tongxinglian' - she ended up marrying a first mate from the USA who presumably satisfied her non-cissy criteria, but she then refused to go to the USA and stayed put in Changsha.  


From: China 福建(fu jian) 福州(fu zhou ) @about Time : 2018-05-01 19:44:59 #3

@oldghost   It is not Chinese culture. The girlfriend words are not good for Chinese. Someone, especailly Chinese women thought that these words are very personally, but in fact, these are not polite to others. I never say that and if someone said to me, I would keep silent. So I understand your acquaintance chatting with you online, if I were she, I would never talk to you forever.

From: China 福建(fu jian) 福州(fu zhou ) @about Time : 2018-05-02 18:44:57 #4


I wonder you know Chinese so well. In China, a lot persons say some words like her, your girlfrind, but it is not cultures of China, at least it is misbehavior to others. 

From: United Kingdom Bristol Easton @RobertB Time : 2018-05-05 10:15:35 #5

I think that using equal language is a sign of initmacy. In Korean culture you use almost always standard polite form. The same goes for Japanese. In Chinese and English cultures you use langguage which is largely standard form, unless of'course using sland or specialized expressions like in military for example. So English and Chinese are very similar. 

In this respect. So what follows most expressions are context defined. I mean the politeness level is largely context defined and treated mutually. 

If someone talks to me bad I have two choices, respond or keep quiet. 

If I keep quier is worse because then the issue is not resolved and I will penalize this person in a way that we will not notice. Like I may not ask her for dinner for example. 

If I reciprocate then maybe she will be shocked but then I will know that she is not my friend and I just saved myself from possibly being married to wrong person. You know in a culture where you may have many wives, maybe you do not have to care about the woman but if you know she is going to be the only one then you both better hit it right. 

I remember though that on two occasions, I used wrong expression. 

One was when I was very young.. The other time when I was visiting my friend's house.

The first time I tried to use only intonation to check if the books were correct that saying this in that tone would be rude. I was right. I got scolded by my aunt's husband for suggesting he liked the spoiled coconut meat. 

in the second case, I tried to accept invitation for dinner in a way that could be possibly acceptable among American friends but not among Chinese speaking Chinese. 

So since then, I rather avoid being too direct. 

Still, Even in my culture, Polish that is .. speaking to someone using direct pronouns when someone is elder than you is considered extremely rude. 

The same as in Korean. 

To us there maybe a problem with Chinese because we have to remember that on one hand Chinese are more direct than Polish or Korean, on the other they still have very hard for foreigner to always pick up a sense of propriety.

Thus I would suggest to be careful. Although with some young students I could use sha gua words and they would laugh. 

Not too young ones because they could feel hurt maybe. 


From: China 山东(shan dong) 济宁(ji ning ) @paulfox1 Time : 2018-05-08 21:08:55 #6

I found 'sheng jing bing' totally acceptable whilst in China. It seems to have been somewhat 'replaced' with '250', spoken as 'er bai wu'. Same same, really.

From: South Africa Gauteng Johannesburg @proteaflower Time : 2018-06-01 20:46:36 #7

@oldghost, i think you make a lots cheap talk about chinese , you can check every words

in dictionary? instead of ask a chinese man?  that's why you got the player call you 'ass hole' on BBO, this only show your cheap taste of mindset. china is a huge country----so your girlfriend is nothing to qualify a worthwhile chinese.

From: Australia New South Wales Sydney @oldghost Time : 2018-06-08 23:29:16 #8

@about and @proteas

you and protea totally miss the point, and you seem to think I have said something criticising Chinese women.


I teach Englis to Chinese people and I know about learning a language.  When you are learning you listen and pick up what people say.  But in what you hear there is not hint of cutlture or gender restrictions.  So when a woman says to me taoyan or shenjing bing, I pick it up and use it as a learner.  Using language this way leads to awkward situations sometimes.  That is what my story means.  People listening to second language speakers should realise they make cultural mistakes and us the language wrongly. That is something neither you nor Protea are doing in your comments

From: Australia New South Wales Sydney @oldghost Time : 2018-06-08 23:33:44 #9


I am looking at your response again.  It is a nonsense answer, offensive, and shows no understanding either of language or cultural interaction.  We have spoken openly online, and I just tell you I think you have embarrassed yourself with this rash comment.

From: China @autumn2066 Time : 2018-06-09 13:12:52 #10


Chinese language is a complicated tool which should be used carefully depends on what kind of person you are talking with and different situation might be a joke while in some other situation it might be offensive.

This word of" Shenjingbing" in China could mean "I am sick of you, stay away from me", or "You freak, you must have mental problem,you have better go see a doctor.", so this word needs to be careful used in China. 

For example, if you are talking with very close friends or you two are a couple, this word would be treated as a teasing sweet word, means " Hi, don't be that naughty." or " You silly, stop doing like that."

If you are talking with a stranger or your boss or your girlfriend's father, please don't say this word, otherwise you might get fired or a pounch on your nose. 

From: Australia New South Wales Sydney @oldghost Time : 2018-06-12 10:03:29 #11


Yes that's the point - you don't know from textbooks what phrases carry sensitivity to person or gender.  In fact I was heartily sick of the cloying ingratiating chats with the woman, and was not in the least upset by her departure, but I was surprised at the ferocity of her reaction!  Another small surprise came when I used the chengyu phrase 'de guo qie guo' 得过且过 in asking about how someone's business was going - I only did it to practise using some chengyu, but they were quite upset or offended. I still don't know of a suitable male phrase for irritation or annoyance to replace 'taoyan'.

From: China @autumn2066 Time : 2018-06-15 01:21:12 #12


I think learning a new language would experience a lots of confuse and many awkard time, don't push yourself to be perfect, you have done pretty well and you will do better and better, take time to learn and enjoy the couse.

About your confuse. It seems that you tend to think that using one or two wrong words or phrase, have made that Chinese lady angry, and you think it must be wrong Chinese phrase have made the Chinese business men upset. 

I doubt.

I just searched my memory, trying to find some Chinese words which women could say but men should not say, I found nothing.

So,I don't think it was the misusing word " ShenJingBing" have driven that Chinese lady mad at you two times, but your attitude drove her mad and hate you for years.:P

As a man, your way of digging the root of this confuse is linear reasoning. As a woman, I don't focus on literal accuracy in conversation,I tend to dig the reason from people's mood state and interaction in a conversation.


Putting my feet into that Chinese woman's shoes, I simulated you two's chatting status in my imagination.(giggle)

And I sensed strong dislike and unhappy mood in that imagination.I guess the reason was the psychological aversion towards each other between you and that Chinese woman.

I guess that Chinese woman had already sensed that you don't like her from your body language. Though she had been trying to please you in the conversation with lots of cloying ingratiating chats but you felt sick of her totally and don't care about her at all. I suspect that woman probably had sensed your dislike towards her, which might have aroused her dislike towards you at the same time,the mood state and interaction in your conversation was unhappy.So when you spoke out a wrong rude Chinese word, she lost her patience for you and seems hate you for years.:x(whew)

I tend to think most of women act and react in a spontaneous way following women's intuition and women's little amour-propre. 

I mean, few women are stupid, women just pretend to be stupid to please men if she cares about him. Chinese women tend to have a manner of willing to concern for other people,to make other people happy, so if western men don't appreciate her way, had better stop conversation soon, no need to waste time pretending being polite with each other. In your case,if you don't enjoy chatting with that lady, you could find an polite excause over the conversation quickly, not need to go on chatting with her,letting her waste your time and her time. You could have found someone else to plactice your Chinese while letting that lady whom you dislike to move on to someone else to practice her English, in this way, both of you two could have much more fun and pleasure with other people in conversation and much more helpful for learning new language.

I mean, being honest to yourself, with a bit more sensitive with women,you won't drive Chinese women mad and even if you misuse wrong words in conversation, Chinese women won't get mad easily, because women usaully could sense your true attitude while chatting with you.:) If you don't like a woman, she probably won't like you either.:):P

IMO, being honest to yourself = Simple. Simple way, best way.(hug)(handshake)

Regard, wish you have more fun in learning Chinese.:)

From: Australia New South Wales Sydney @oldghost Time : 2018-06-15 23:58:46 #13


That is a long long thoughtful detailed answer!  Thank you for taking the time and considering the point.  She was not important, too flattering when I just like strong women.  I was just focussing on the language and social cultural issue of language.  She almost surely did know I was not interested.  I have indeed acquired some wonderful long-time friends from QQ, Yahoo, MSN and wechat - a few but truly lifelong.  These friends come from our words, our ideas, thoughts, feelings expressed.


From: Australia New South Wales Sydney @oldghost Time : 2019-05-27 18:43:30 #14


The thing about learning a new language is that you do not know the etiquette, the polite language and usage.  As a teacher and a student I make allowances for this, and simply explain without anger or irritation that a particular phrase or expression or joke is not polite, or not in good taste, or simply bad English.  That there are euphemistic ways of expression.

As a student of a second language I expect the same understanding and patience from my native listener. 

On the other hand, when a Chinese learner (perhaps jokingly) calls me 'a liar'  I explain that is a serious and offensive phrase in English, and that there are other gentler and politer ways to express it - such as 'big fibber'.  On a second occasion I would be somewhat less tolerant, and on a third I would turn on my heel and depart. 


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