Women of China
Foreigners asked to distinguish Chinese ladies from different cities
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.
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.
Desiree Arne Meniger Mimi and Graemelahman
Johan Sebastien Dragon