Sin­gles fume over mar­riage commercial

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YUE zhangyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Yan Xiaoxu, 24, from Zhe­jiang prov­ince, never sold any­thing on Taobao.com be­fore Spring Fes­ti­val. Then he sold him­self. In the prod­uct in­tro­duc­tion sec­tion, Yan posted his photo and age, and rented him­self out for 400 yuan ($66) per day as a “tem­po­rary boyfriend’’.

“I got the idea through a friend who wanted to rent a boyfriend for the hol­i­day. Her fam­ily kept ask­ing her about her re­la­tion­ship sta­tus and she be­came ag­i­tated due to the pres­sure,” he said.

For sin­gle people in China, Spring Fes­ti­val is a bit­ter-sweet oc­ca­sion as the fo­cus of their rel­a­tives of­ten turns to re­la­tion­ships and mar­riage, es­pe­cially at the din­ner ta­ble.

A sur­vey by China Youth Daily re­leased on Tues­day said that 89 per­cent of the 7, 932 re­spon­dents were asked about their mar­riage prospects by fam­ily mem­bers dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val.

On Jan 23, a man in Zhengzhou, He­nan prov­ince, posted on his mi­cro blog that he was will­ing to pay 1 mil­lion yuan ($164,900) to rent a girl­friend to take back home for the seven-day hol­i­day.

For some people the sit­u­a­tion be­came even worse when a commercial by www.baihe. com, a leading dat­ing web­site, was aired on na­tional TV.

The commercial shows a well-ed­u­cated young woman re­turn­ing home ev­ery year to see her grand­mother who asks the same ques­tion ev­ery year: Have you got mar­ried?

Then the grand­mother is taken to the hospi­tal where the grand­daugh­ter vis­its her but again the ques­tion is asked.

Fi­nally, the grand­daugh­ter ap­pears in a wed­ding dress, hold­ing a man’s hand in front of her grand­mother.

“Just for the sake of my grand­mother, I should get mar­ried and stop be­ing picky,” the young woman said in the commercial.

The advertisement was re­peat­edly broad­cast dur­ing the Lu­nar New Year hol­i­day on ma­jor TV chan­nels, in­clud­ing China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion.

The advertisement touched a nerve with many sin­gle people and a boy­cott of the dat­ing web­site was ini­ti­ated on Sina Weibo, a pop­u­lar mi­cro-blog­ging web­site, in which more than 280,000 people took part.

“We hate this commercial be­cause it con­veys the wrong at­ti­tude to­ward mar­riage,” said a 29-year-old woman in Bei­jing who iden­ti­fied her­self as Han.

“You don’t get mar­ried to sat­isfy your fam­ily. People get mar­ried be­cause they want to spend their lives to­gether.

“We saw the commercial on TV dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val, and I was watch­ing TV with my ex­tended fam­ily, to­gether with my grand­mother sit­ting right next to me,” she said.

“When the commercial ap­peared, all of a sud­den I felt the chill in the liv­ing room. It to­tally de­stroyed our hol­i­day.”

Han said that her fam­ily had been keep­ing an open mind to the fact that she has re­mained sin­gle, but are ac­tu­ally anx­ious, though they sel­dom dis­cuss it.

“My par­ents are cer­tainly wor­ried be­cause I am nearly 30 and al­most seen as a ‘left­over woman’,” she said.

“But I hated it when the commercial aired and an awk­ward sit­u­a­tion arose. The commercial showed the grandma in the hospi­tal, and it seems like she will die un­less her grand­daugh­ter gets mar­ried. How mean is that?”

Zhang Yuan, 27, also watched the commercial.

“The di­rec­tor be­hind the commercial is def­i­nitely not sin­gle, and had no idea of the pres­sure sin­gle people face dur­ing the hol­i­day.

Zhang, who spent two years study­ing in the United King­dom from 2008 to 2010, said that she never thought her sin­gle sta­tus would be­come a prob­lem for the fam­ily.

“But it is re­ally a prob­lem now,” she said. “The irony is though we hate dat­ing web­sites that con­vey the wrong at­ti­tude to­ward mar­riage, it seems that many of us rely on blind dates through such web­sites. Work oc­cu­pies much of our time and our so­cial cir­cle is limited.

“And the only thing I don’t like about Valen­tine’s Day is that you are no­ticed be­cause you are sin­gle,” Zhang said, jok­ingly.

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