One of the cutest couples I’ve seen in a long while:
Things That Are Awesome (in sharply descending degrees of awesomeness):
#2. The views on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain (浮山).
#3. Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China.
#4. Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain.
#5. Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain playing We Are The World:
Aaaaand…. #1! Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain playing When a Man Loves a Woman when you’ve hiked up there to celebrate your 12th anniversary.
Snogging pics in
So there are these minute-long Chinese sex ed videos that’ve gone viral on the Chinese internet. I suspect they’re actually aimed at parents, but they’re funny and well done. Here’s a translation of the first one, which compares conception to getting a shot at the doctor’s and makes fun of the classic Chinese answer to, “Where did I come from?”
Your mom says you were brought back from the garbage pile?
We’ve had an interest in Chinese sex ed ever since we first arrived as language students and got involved with Bright Future, a sex ed project run by an American at Tianjin University. The traditional taboo against talking about sex is still strongly felt in China, so sex ed is a special challenge. And the not-talking-about-it enables copious amounts of risky sexual behaviours and their damaging consequences (see links at the bottom), so we’re fans of creative efforts like Bright Future.
(If you want to mouseover the Chinese and get instant pop-up pronunciation/translation, install this in your web browser.)
One-minute Sex Ed #1: Where Did You Come From?
Where did you come from?
Of course your dad and mom borned you!
老师跟你说是爱情的结晶？No, no, no,
Teacher told you it was love crystals? No no no…
We are mammals, not crystal
There’s just fertilization, where’s the crystallization?
Your mom says you were brought back from the garbage pile?
Nope, your mom remembers wrong
You were brought back from a small grove of trees
You were conceived in a small grove of trees*
is your dad’s sperm making its way into your mom’s ovum
You ask how does the sperm go in…
Um, you’ve seen an injection in the hospital, right?
The needle pokes all of sudden, and the medicine is pushed in
That’s the process, more or less
Oh, so you want to know how you grew up this big?
At the very start the fertilized egg was thinner than your hair
Couldn’t be seen with eyes
Since the sperm is that small, so the needle must be really small?
No! No! No! This has nothing to do with the syringe’s size!
Ah, you’re asking does it hurt as much as an injection?
Um, I guess it will hurt like that just a bit**
Basically, you need to show filial piety to your mother, understand?
Afterwards the fertilized egg will divide
One into two, two into four, four into eight, etc.
After that, it will take shape and organize organs
This way you have a heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, throat, etc., odds and ends
What? Your mom says she’s certain you were brought back from the garbage pile?!
Censored (“I erase”)
Hold on, I need to have a chat with her…
(*P.S. — “…conceived in a small grove of trees” isn’t just some random joke. In memoirs we’ve read of China’s 1980’s, it was apparently not uncommon for couples to sneak out to public parks at night to fool around because they had nowhere else to go; living quarters were crowded and lacking privacy. I’m guessing that’s what they’re alluding to.)
(**P.P.S. — How would you translate this? 嗯，多少会疼那么一下吧)
More about Sex Ed (and the lack thereof) in China:
- Sex, drugs, and Tianjin University students [Bright Future]
- ‘True Love Waits’… with Chinese characteristics
- Teaching school girls how not to become mistresses
- Sex and Politics
Abortion, AIDS, prostitution and gendercide:
- Pro-life in abortion-saturated China — What do you do?
- “Painless”, “cozy”, “cheerful”, “3-minute”, “sweet dream” abortions in Tianjin, China
- There is no prostitution in China [Seeing Red in China]
- AIDS in the countryside – How China struggles to control the epidemic [Seeing Red in China]
- Moonlighting as Sexperts [Bright Future / NYT on China’s AIDS & abortion rates]
- Interview with Chinese exile, women’s rights campaigner and founder of All Girls Allowed
China’s “leftover woman” (剩女) phenomenon is in the news again. It might seem counter-intuitive that a nation with a sharp and increasing gender imbalance could have leftover women, but being counter-intuitive to Westerners is a Chinese specialty. :)
traditionally the Chinese say one should ‘make do’ when marrying. Marriage has never been synonymous with happiness.
“The new generation of women don’t want to ‘make do’. Many live quite well alone and don’t see the point in lowering their standard or life in order to marry.”
Still, the pressure on women is huge.
Part of this is due to China’s one-child population control policy, which adds to the desperation of parents for their only offspring to marry and produce a grandson or granddaughter.
“The real reason for coming to this club is that I don’t want to disappoint my parents. I want to make them happy,” admitted Xu.
The Garden of Joy’s own slogan plays on this emotion in order to attract members. “Are you single? Think about the feelings of your father/mother. Don’t cause them more worry,” read a sign on the entrance.
And business is booming.
The article gets at some of it, but there are important details left out. We’ve written on “leftover women” in China before, and encountered the modern marriage problem in China in different ways, most curiously in the local “marriage market.” If you’re interested in the “leftover women” or “3rd gender” phenomenon in China, I suggest you take a look at the links and photos here: China’s “leftover women” [Updated]
Male chauvinism, narrow and well-defined beauty ideals, and materialism converge in a single phenomenon in China called “leftover women” — urban, professional women in their late 20’s who still haven’t married, and, so conventional wisdom goes, might never. Despite a surplus of males due to China’s ongoing legacy of gendercide, these professionally successful women feel their chances for marriage at 30 are quite slim, and the pressure to settle can be intense.
China’s “Leftover” Women
26-year-old newlywed college graduate Li Fang (a pseudonym) explained to me over dinner why she had been in such a rush to marry:
If I hadn’t gotten married now, I would still have to date for at least one or two years. Then I would already have passed the best child-bearing age and I would be a leftover woman.
More than 90 percent of men surveyed said women should marry before 27 to avoid becoming unwanted. The message to women: If you want to stand a snowball’s chance in hell of ever getting married in this country, don’t demand too much from your man.
We’ve had our own encounters with this and related aspects of Chinese society:
China’s Third Gender
“A”-class women are so far outside the traditional definition of “woman” and have such trouble finding husbands and realizing the female roles of wife and mother that our teachers joke that they’re like a third gender.
- On Love and being ‘smart enough’ (by Jessica!)
The guys also said that she should be “一般聪明” which means “smart enough” or “ordinarily smart.” There’s a definite thread in Chinese culture that says that smart, clever, and independent women are threatening or something to be feared, so the guys tend not to want a girlfriend that might be smarter than themselves.
This one is also worth a look:
- The options of yuppie women in China: “strong woman”, housewife or “fox”
“Should I be a ‘strong woman’ (女强人) and make money and have a career, maybe grow rich, but risk not finding a husband or having a child? Or should I marry and be a stay-at-home housewife (全职太太), support my husband and educate my child? Or, should I be a ‘fox’ (狐狸精) — the kind of woman who marries a rich man, drives around in a BMW but has to put up with his concubines (妾，二奶)?”
Finding a mate is difficult when young people are scrambling for a job in a crowded and competitive market, so “marriage markets” (our term) are not uncommon. Since they’re full of bored parents and grandparents, they make great locations for students of Chinese to practice conversational Mandarin. We visited the one in Tianjin several times:
Guest post! Cindy is one of the very few 100% fully bi-cultural people I’ve ever known. She originally wrote this in Facebook, and after reading it I asked to repost it here. I think it connects powerfully with everyone, especially those of us who live far from home, and most especially with Third-Culture Kids who aren’t really sure where ‘home’ is.
Let’s get to know each other
I had a conversation with my girlfriend about the hypothetical situation of whether we should remarry if our husbands died. I know my married girlfriends have had this conversation too, don’t deny it people. Her response was how hard it would be to have to get to know another person as intimately all over again.
Truly one of the greatest gifts in relationships is to be understood by another person. And trusting you will be accepted and loved in spite of the intimate knowledge. However, the process from acquaintance to intimacy takes time. It takes time to tell stories, to react to circumstances in life, to laugh and cry together, to argue and disagree, and then to make up. These experiences build layers of trust and loyalty and compose the patches of material that make up friendship. Through time we weave our lives together and enter together into the depth of relationship that allow us to be known by one another. And we are created to long for that depth. To be deeply known.
The trouble is, then we move. We pick up and move to another town. Or in my case, across the freakin’ ocean. I grew up in a small school where my friends were like my brothers and sisters. We were that small and that close. At graduation we scattered literally all over the world. Our new communities didn’t know our collective history and we had to start over from scratch with the storytelling and the laughing and crying and all that relationship building stuff. Then we’d move again. And start all over again. It’s no wonder people who are forced to move around a lot, like military families, have intimacy issues. It’s simply too exhausting.
Each time we enter a new community, that new place shapes us, molding us into someone different. When I left Wheaton, I was starting to question some of the conservative elements of my beliefs. Fuller helped introduce a broader spectrum of theology and how to incorporate doubt and criticism into a vibrant faith. In a sense, there was a Morrison Cindy, a Wheaton Cindy, a Fuller Cindy, a China Cindy, and a back-to-Taiwan Cindy. As time went on, the world changed and so did I. In the moving river of life, people who stepped in along the way journeyed with me downstream without the knowledge of who I was before I became who I am. Like a diamond, we can only reflect light off of one surface at a time even though we are made out of many facets.
The potential for misunderstanding is alarming. In our limited perspective, it’s too easy to make judgments regarding a person’s comments without a fuller understanding of their background. Wheaton Cindy would be appalled at some of the theological slants of back-to-Taiwan Cindy, and Chinese Cindy cannot hardly stand American Cindy most of the time. The complexities of our biological, cultural, mental, and spiritual identities is what fuels the psycho-therapy economy. And yet there exists inside of me the desire to be wholly known. The impossibility of somebody understanding the nuances of every past experience, every hat I wear, every idea and action and word I exhibit, doesn’t stop me from trying.
So I tell stories. I share my reaction when stuff happens. I laugh and cry. I argue and disagree. And I make up. Then I listen, not only to stories but to the stories behind the stories. I try not to jump to conclusions about people because I don’t know where they’ve been upstream. I look for the other faces of the diamond that make up each person I encounter because seeing only one side is not satisfying. I lean deep into the relationships around me to know and be known. It’s what I was created for.
I’m Cindy. It’s nice to meet you. Let’s get to know each other, shall we?