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No one has ever died from lack of love



I read a really interesting article a few days back and it got me thinking about love and relationships. Usually this is a topic I try to spend as little time thinking about as possible, mostly for the same reason you don't find Eskimos preoccupied about suntan lotion. They're aware it exists out in the world somewhere and plenty of people probably have it and use it on a daily basis, but you're never going to find or need a tube of the stuff in the middle of some arctic wasteland. There's also something to be said for the updated version of that old Groucho Marx joke, why would you ever want to date/marry someone with the poor taste and standards enough to want to date/marry you. If you're fishing at the bottom of the barrel, don't be surprised at what the fish are like.

All of that said, the article interested me because it was about relationships in China. Now, I'll admit that despite some genetic competence on this issue, I don't know all that much about the place. If it didn't come along with the DNA chances are I don't know any more than any other person born in this country. What I had assumed for years is that China must be an absolute buyer's paradise for the women there, much like a larger version of the state of Alaska. The one-child policy ended up drastically skewing the sex-ratio of an entire generation, and even now 120 boys are born for every 100 girls. This is after the functional relaxation of the policy where if you have the money, you can pretty much pay a fine to have more kids. The driving force in the past is that the government would only pay for the education and upkeep for the first child and most families wouldn't have had the funds to provide for a second child without government assistance.

Despite this imbalance, it turns out that there's a strong rural/urban divide. Just like in the states, women are tending to be better educated than the men over time and that means that they're also less likely to stay in the hinterlands on farms and in small villages. This leaves rural areas with a ridiculously severe deficit of women, especially since sex selection was also strongest in those parts of the country. A strong back and inheritance issues pushed most rural communities to greatly prefer male to female offspring.

In the cities, however, the gender imbalance skews the other way, because more women tend to move to urban areas. In Beijing, there are half a million more single women ages 25 to 50 than single men.

It turns out that not only are women left holding the numerical short end of the stick but they're also the wrong type of women for the men they want to attract. This was, for me, the most interesting part of the article.

Ambitious, high-achieving women earn a kind of scarlet letter for being far too talented to make a suitable wife. They're called "Class A" women.

By tradition, an ideal match is one where the husband surpasses his wife in every respect—is taller, has a better job and education, and comes from a more esteemed family. In other words, "Class A" men should marry "Class B" women. As one Chinese male friend explained to me, for a woman, having too much success is a much greater liability than being a few years "too old."

I just found the entire thing funny in a sardonic sort of way. I have to assume that when they're using the classification terms they only apply it to things like an education, job, earnings, etc. I can't imagine looks entering the picture because it'll be a cold day in hell when you have a guy say something like, 'Well, I think she's just a little too hot for me. She's certainly an A and I was wondering if perhaps you had something less attractive in stock. Maybe in the B, B- range.'

Still, all in all, I find the entire idea sort of humorous. I can see how there might be a perception that these 'A' women might be overly demanding or picky due to their uppity status, but it still seems odd to me the amount of weight this is given. After all, what you really want to avoid, I'm guessing, is that snobby, uppity personality quirk, right? That has to be a function of personality more than anything else and you'd think that it'd only be a bonus if she brought home a serious amount of wonga. It's kinda marrying a woman who's an heiress versus one who isn't. It might not be very important in your hierarchy of wants for a partner, but rich has got to be better than poor/riddled with debts, right? Maybe I'm just showing off my crass American materialism there.

Anyway, if you want to read the article for yourself, it's here. There's a good bit more about the fact that due to inexperience with the opposite sex, many people now hire 'Love Consultants' who basically help them negotiate the choppy and shark-infested waters of relationships. It's almost enough to make you pine for the good old days where you could just club a woman over the head and drag her back to your cave. Chances are she'd even cook you up a brontosaurus burger in the morning too.

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henwy
Feb. 24th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)
It's especially problematic because most of China is still an agrarian society and that's where there's the fewest women. I was reading another article about chinese farmers trying to find mail order brides from other countries. If something doesn't happen to fix this problem, China might end up with a famine in a generation or so.
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henwy
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