Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Marital Pressure's On

Baihe website helps singletons get matched up to please their elders
Over Chinese New Year, young mainland men and women who are single dread going home for the holidays because they know they will be grilled by their parents and relatives asking when they will get married.

During my time in Beijing, there were news stories about men willing to be their pretend boyfriend and actually go to the woman's hometown and stay with her family -- sex not included -- for a fee.

They would meet before the actual Spring Festival just to see if they could somehow get along, go through the terms of the agreement and then go ahead with the farce.

I don't know anyone who actually resorted to that route, but it seemed the men were trying to fill a desperate need, though the reality of the situation must have been awkward to say the least.

And now a dating website is under fire for pressuring young women to hurry up and find a mate.

Matchmaking website Baihe has come out with a TV commercial about a well-to-do young woman and her aging grandmother. Viewers can see the family is wealthy as the living room seems quite large... In any event after the young woman's university graduation, her grandmother asks her when she will get married, and she persists as the young woman grows older.

Grandma keeps persisting that her granddaughter get hitched
It gets to the point where the young woman decides she must do something about this with the help of Baihe and in the last scene she is dressed in a gorgeous bridal gown covered in lace and pearls and finally tells her grandmother on her hospital bed that she has finally tied the knot.

The commercial has provoked some interesting online reactions, some infuriated that the website has played the "filial piety card" in order to pressure young people to rush into marriage just to please their elders. Some are so angered by the site that they promise to boycott it -- a usual knee-jerk reaction from mainlanders who are annoyed at anything.

Others suggested that perhaps people should be having conversations with their elders that pressuring them to get married does not help the situation.

"Besides the conventional family values, people shall not sacrifice their own happiness to comply with their family members' unreasonable demands," commented Peng Xiaohui, a prominent sexologist and Central China Normal University professor.

But not everyone has the same idea as Peng.

Some not only think of it as a Confucian ideal to strive for, but are only thinking in the best interests of the child or grandchild to find a mate to share their happiness and burdens together.

However, not all elders know how complicated and difficult the dating scene has become thanks to the proliferation of divorces, mistresses, long-distance relationships and so on.

Dating websites can either solve the problem or make them even more complicated...

It all comes down to luck.

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