Women of China

For­eign­ers asked to dis­tin­guish Chi­nese ladies from dif­fer­ent cities

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - CITY PANORAMA - By Du Qiong­fang

Over the past few months, Chi­nese on­line hit TV pro­grams Women in Beijing and Women in Shanghai, which are pro­duced by Chi­nese video stream­ing plat­form Youku, be­came a hot topic among Chi­nese view­ers.

The two shows tell two sto­ries about two sin­gle women who hail from smaller Chi­nese cities and strug­gle in life, love and ca­reers in ur­ban me­trop­o­lises over the span of 10 years.

Both se­ries, which have strong ge­o­graph­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, also show the dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters of pro­fes­sional women in China’s two megac­i­ties. The Global Times re­cently in­ter­viewed some male and fe­male for­eign­ers in Shanghai about their opin­ions and stereo­types of work­ing women in Beijing and Shanghai.

When asked if they could rec­og­nize women from dif­fer­ent cities in China, es­pe­cially from Shanghai or Beijing, some replied that they could.

Mimi from Slove­nia said she and her hus­band know many ladies from dif­fer­ent parts of China, so they can eas­ily iden­tify their ori­gin. When asked about the dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics of Beijing and Shanghai women, Mimi said “there is a big dif­fer­ence. Shanghai ladies are very so­phis­ti­cated, very gen­tle.”

Her hus­band, Graeme­lah­man, added that Shanghai women are also “more fash­ion­able,” whereas Beijing ladies fol­low tra­di­tional fam­ily roles, so they don’t put so much thought into fash­ion, said Mimi.

Jo­han from Swe­den said that “Shanghai women prob­a­bly are a bit more hard work­ing, more busi­ness. They strive for their own dreams and stuff.” How­ever, Meniger from France said that for him, “it’s all the same peo­ple.” De­siree from Ger­many thinks Shanghai women are “very pretty and very small, and they are so proud to live in Shanghai.”

Big city or small

The Global Times also asked some for­eign males if they’d pre­fer to marry a woman from a big or a small city.

Meniger said he doesn’t know about China, but said that in France “there is no dif­fer­ence be­tween a woman who lives in a big or small city, so I imag­ine in China it is the same.”

Se­bastien Dragon from France joked that he just got divorced so he does not want to get mar­ried. Arne from Ger­many said that women from small towns are in­ter­est­ing be­cause they are more un­usual. “But it depends; ev­ery woman is unique.”

Jo­han said he would pre­fer to marry a woman from a big city be­cause ur­ban women are prob­a­bly “more used to in­ter­na­tional stuff, more used to for­eign­ers, more used to English, more used to other cul­tures.”

But Graeme­lah­man doesn’t think it mat­ters where a woman comes from. He also ad­mit­ted that it is eas­ier for for­eign­ers to meet peo­ple in a big city and to un­der­stand their lan­guage, whereas in other parts of China it is harder to un­der­stand their lan­guages.

Then the Global Times asked which na­tion­al­ity among im­mi­grant women in their coun­try is most com­mon. Meniger said now im­mi­grant women in France mostly come from Chile, Iraq and Libya.

Dragon said that im­mi­grant women from North Africa are the most com­mon in France, and Jo­han thinks im­mi­grant women from Eastern Europe, the Mid­dle East and Thai­land are the most pop­u­lous in Swe­den.

De­siree said the Bri­tish and the Dutch are the most com­mon na­tion­al­ity of im­mi­grants in Ger­many. Arne said that there are a lot of im­mi­grants from across the world in Ger­many.

Mimi said that, in Europe, there are many im­mi­grants from Africa. Her hus­band Graeme­lah­man, who orig­i­nally came from Aus­tralia, said that Aus­tralia has dif­fer­ent im­mi­grants from ev­ery­where.

Lo­cal or im­mi­grant women

The next ques­tion that the Global Times asked was, when com­par­ing

lo­cal and im­mi­grant women, who are more likely to suc­ceed in their coun­tries. Dragon thinks both are equally likely to suc­ceed.

Jo­han thinks lo­cal women are more likely to suc­ceed, be­cause “they know the cul­ture, they know the lan­guage.” Arne said that, in his coun­try, “Ger­man women have some­thing bet­ter. But it depends on which kind of work they do.”

Mimi said that, in Slove­nia, lo­cal ladies are more likely to suc­ceed for sure. But her hus­band Graeme­lah­man thinks that, in Aus­tralia, it makes no dif­fer­ence.

The for­eign­ers were then asked which coun­try’s women they think are the most hard-work­ing. Meniger said Asian women, such as Chi­nese, are the most hard-work­ing.

His opin­ion was echoed by De­siree who also thinks that Chi­nese peo­ple work very hard. “In Ger­many, we work 40 hours a week. But many Chi­nese work 50 hours to 60 hours a week. That’s a lot.”

Mimi also said that she and her hus­band have seen Chi­nese women work very hard. “I know a few Chi­nese busi­ness ladies. They just work, work, work,” Mimi said. But Graeme­lah­man thinks Sin­ga­porean women are par­tic­u­larly smart.

Arne said that, in Asia, women work more than those in the West. “I see many peo­ple work a lot here. The women work, work, work. So some­times I have feel­ings that they work un­til very late. They do not have so much free time maybe,” Arne said.

Gen­der equal­ity

At last, our in­ter­vie­wees were asked if they think gen­der equal­ity ex­ists in China. De­siree said that “in Ger­many it’s so, but the men in Shanghai stand at the first po­si­tion. And then the sec­ond is the women.” “My ex­pe­ri­ence and what I see is maybe, when they’re mar­ried, some­one told me that [Chi­nese] women have a strong pow­er­ful place,” Arne said.

Graeme­lah­man said that when he first came to China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, most of his staff were young male Chi­nese. “But after two years, we had mostly women on staff, be­cause they were smarter, they were bet­ter at their jobs.”

Jo­han thinks there is not much gen­der equal­ity in China. “I don’t think, through­out all China, there is gen­der equal­ity. But it’s prob­a­bly more equal in Shanghai than the other places.”

“If you com­pare China to Swe­den, it is more old school. In Swe­den, we are very equal and women work as much as men do. Here I feel like it’s more like Swe­den used to be, where the men do more work to sup­port the fam­ily, and then the women take care of the fam­ily,” Jo­han said.

Pho­tos: VCG & Lu Ting/GT

De­siree Arne Meniger Mimi and Graeme­lah­man

Jo­han Se­bastien Dragon

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