China’s ‘Leftover Women’ Seek to Rent A Boyfriend
Imagine being called an “old maid” at the tender age of 27. In China, such labels are a reality. The term “leftover women” has become a part of the vernacular, and has even been used by China’s state feminist agency, the All-China Women’s Federation. In fact, in 2007 the Women’s Federation defined “leftover women”—sheng nu in Chinese—as unmarried women over the age of 27, and China’s Ministry of Education added the term to its official dictionary.
The federation has published articles with titles ranging from, “Do Leftover Women Really Deserve Our Sympathy?” to “Eight Simple Moves to Escape the Leftover Women Trap.” Even when they have successful careers, in China, the pressure on women to get married and start a family is as great as ever.
How sad is it that the following column ran after International Women’s Day in 2011:
Pretty girls don’t need a lot of education to marry into a rich and powerful family, but girls with an average or ugly appearance will find it difficult. These kinds of girls hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is, they don’t realize that as women age, they are worth less and less, so by the time they get their M.A. or Ph.D., they are already old, like yellowed pearls.
So is it any wonder that “Rent a Boyfriend” services are now popping up all over China? Single men, looking to make a few quick yuan, are advertising their services online, selling dates, kisses and trips to meet the elders. And in the season of the Lunar New Year, when billions of Chinese travel home in the world’s largest annual human migration, business is booming. At least 300 different businesses are currently advertising male companionship online this month, with varying prices and levels of intimacy.
“Not getting any younger and still dreading facing the nagging parents?” read one advertisement. “Need a boyfriend to face the family?“
“Your parents worked so hard to raise you, bringing a boyfriend home is the best way to repay them,” stated another.
Many men are offering their services on the Web site Taobao.com—China’s answer to eBay. One such “Rent-a-Boyfriend,” stated he was born in 1991, a BA student, an extrovert, 5 feet 6 inches tall and 132 pounds.
“Boyfriend for rent, 300 yuan a day, holding hands and hugs free, appropriate kisses 50 yuan, talking to old people 30 yuan an hour, others we’ll talk about it when we meet,” his post said. Also: “accommodation and transport costs paid by the woman.”
And women are more than happy to pay, knowing the relationship will go no further than the date for which they’ve paid, in order to avoid weeks of questions and pressure from parents after they arrive home in a single status.
“Spring Festival is approaching and young, single women must go home, to once again face their elders’ ‘urging marriage,’” a reporter for the China Economic Net wrote. “Under these circumstances, quite a lot of ‘boyfriends for rent’ have quietly appeared on Taobao,” with “prices clearly marked and real photographs.”
I want more stuff like this!