A twist in women’s search for the ideal man
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. firstname.lastname@example.org