A twist in women’s search for the ideal man

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

To have, or not to have a nu­an­nan as a boyfriend, is the ques­tion. Nu­an­nan refers to men who are nice and con­sid­er­ate, and will al­ways be there for you. Such traits have made them a fa­vorite of Chi­nese women this Valen­tine’s Day.

The pop­u­lar­ity of the term nu­an­nan even made it one of the buzz­words of 2014, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey of the Chi­nese Na­tional Lan­guageMon­i­tor­ing and Re­search Cen­ter and the Com­mer­cial Press.

Since an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese women are be­com­ing fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent, their main con­cern is no longer whether a man can sup­port the fam­ily. Rather, many women look for ra­tio­nal, un­der­stand­ing and emo­tion­ally bal­anced part­ners, who ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­ogy con­sul­tant Lu Yue seem to be in “short sup­ply” be­cause gen­er­ally Chi­nese men seem un­will­ing to share their feel­ings with women, be they their girl­friends or wives.

There is no rea­son why a man has to play the dom­i­nant role in a re­la­tion­ship in to­day’s so­ci­ety. There is also no rea­son why a man has to be strong, hand­some and eco­nom­i­cally sound enough and his woman has to be beau­ti­ful, and adept at cooking and house­work to marry each other. Gen­der roles have changed; in fact, they are chang­ing by the day.

An­other term that has be­come popular, in a neg­a­tive sense, among ne­ti­zens, es­pe­cially young women, is zhi­nan ai. It lit­er­ally means “straight man can­cer” in English and ridicules het­ero­sex­ual men who are an­noy­ing to the level of be­ing of­fen­sive. The term “orig­i­nated” on douban.com, a popular Chi­nese net­work­ing site, in late June, and refers to male chau­vin­ists who live in their own world and are rarely sat­is­fied with their fe­male part­ners. They are the com­plete op­po­site of nu­an­nan.

Both terms were in­vented by women (per­haps with some help from men), re­flect­ing the ris­ing power of women, who in­stead of al­low­ing men to make fun of them have started tar­get­ing men with their satiric gifts.

But the fact that women still crave nu­an­nan shows that de­spite the changes, so­ci­ety con­tin­ues to re­flect the back­ward traits of yore. So­cial re­la­tions, es­pe­cially those be­tween men and women, may have changed, yet male chau­vin­ism con­tin­ues to hin­der the progress to­ward true gen­der equal­ity.

The quest of many women, ei­ther sin­gle or mar­ried, to find an ideal man even­tu­ally ends in nov­els, films or TV se­ri­als. Per­haps that’s why the 2011 Tai­wan TV drama, In Time­With You, was such a big hit with fe­male white col­lar work­ers and col­lege stu­dents. The fact that the main male char­ac­ter, Brother Daren, is al­ways car­ing and con­cerned about the hero­ine, his high school class­mate, de­spite his un­re­quited love for her, made him a dar­ling with young women.

Notwith­stand­ing the talk about gen­der equal­ity, be­ing faith­ful in a re­la­tion­ship and shar­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, women tend to use (and per­haps coin) more vi­cious (and deroga­tory) terms for men. And iron­i­cally, women end up us­ing many of th­ese terms against other women.

So be­fore cel­e­brat­ing the ad­vance­ments made to­ward gen­der equal­ity, we should stop for a mo­ment and think how to shed our prej­u­dices and ac­com­plish true gen­der equal­ity. The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. xi­aolixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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