Strange con­ju­gal idea, dis­ori­ented TV show

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

The site had been open from Nov 1, 2016 and to Jan 10, and all women were wel­come to send their re­sumes. On Feb 2, the woman that passes the fi­nal selec­tion test by the male suitor and his par­ents, if any, will sign a pre-drafted con­tract. The woman and the man will then of­fi­cially start their “love af­fair”. On Oct 8, they will get mar­ried. On Feb 19, 2018, they will hold a wed­ding cer­e­mony.

his is not a plan of a pair of nor­mal lovers; it is a sched­ule pre­pared by Zhou Zhiqiang, a 30-year-old man from Chengdu, South­west China’s Sichuan prov­ince, which he be­lieves will help him select the “right” woman as life part­ner. So far less than 10 women are said to have sent their re­sumes.

By the way, the sched­ule is one of the 30 chap­ters of his yet to be pub­lished book, A Gen­eral Guide to Love Af­fairs.

And Zhou nei­ther has a girl­friend, nor has got a pub­lisher for his book.

A glimpse into Zhou’s “guide” shows he con­sid­ers a woman a cog in a ma­chine called “fam­ily”. He has taken 18 full chap­ters, or 79,441 words, to draft a de­tailed fam­ily dis­ci­pline regime for his fu­ture wife, which de­scribe how many hours she can rest ev­ery day and what per­cent­age of her salary she can keep as per­sonal ex­pense. Us­ing a sword as the sym­bol of the fam­ily’s author­ity, he says he will faith­fully record the “good” and “bad” deeds of his wife and gives her points ac­cord­ing to the records.

This should ex­plain why Zhou is still sin­gle de­spite hav­ing tried hard to find a wife. The idea of a ro­bot-like wife and an­te­dilu­vian fam­ily val­ues is hardly ac­cept­able to any woman to­day.

His “book” is al­most like the bi­ble of a cult — full of in­struc­tions, such as “the woman must fol­low the guid­ance of this book” or “un­der the eval­u­a­tion sys­tem of the book, she should do the fol­low­ing”.

Zhou seems to have yet to re­al­ize that it is against the ba­sic value of equal­ity on which mod­ern so­ci­ety is based.

If Zhou be­lieves in ev­ery­thing he has writ­ten in the “book”, he will en­counter more fail­ures in life. De­spite all this, he and his “book” were in­vited to Chi­nese Dat­ing, a new dat­ing pro­gram on TV hosted by pop­u­lar dancer Jin Xing.

As its name sug­gests, the pro­gram in­vites not only sin­gle men and women who are in­tro­duced to each other, but also their par­ents or rel­a­tives to “su­per­vise”. And the par­ents have a big­ger say on whether or not their sons or daugh­ters should in­ter­act fur­ther with even the coun­ter­parts they like.

The rea­son Zhou has been in­vited to the pro­gram is ob­vi­ous: spec­u­la­tion. The host in­tro­duced Zhou’s “book” to the au­di­ence with a hu­mor­ous un­der­tone, and the or­ga­niz­ers made fun of Zhou by adding ex­ag­ger­ated sub­ti­tles or voice-overs to the voices of other speak­ers to make the pro­gram more hu­mor­ous. They just tried to show how ridicu­lous Zhou’s ideas were.

Yet the spec­u­la­tion proved suc­cess­ful in draw­ing at­ten­tion. Min­utes af­ter it was broad­cast, the TV pro­gram, the “book”, and Zhou be­came hot top­ics on do­mes­tic so­cial me­dia.

The suc­cess came at a price, though. The fe­male in­vi­tees to the pro­gram lost one pos­si­ble suitor be­cause they ob­vi­ously could not ac­cept Zhou’s idea. How­ever, host Jin pre­pared a bowl of “chicken soup for the soul” for him and en­cour­aged him to “stay as he is”, even though she made it clear that his ideas were ridicu­lous. That cheap ap­plause gave Zhou a false im­pres­sion of sup­port for his out­ra­geous ideas.

As a pub­lic fig­ure, if TV hosts do not be­lieve some­thing is good, at least they should not en­cour­age it be­cause that could lead oth­ers astray. Cheap ap­plause and en­cour­age­ment do not help, they make things worse.

The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. zhangzhoux­i­ang@chi­

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