What Women Don’t Want

The World of Chinese - - Cover Story -

Greasy Guy油腻男If he's tot­ing a clunky gold neckchain, prayer beads, and a hot­wa­ter flask filled with red dates and goji ber­ries—be care­ful, this man might be youni (“greasy”). If he fa­vors wear­ing long johns around the house un­der a bulging gut, though, it's prob­a­bly al­ready too late.

The weisuo­nan (猥琐男 “sleazy man”) has been around for decades, bliss­fully un­aware of his own creepi­ness. Per­haps the re­cent rise of the less alarm­ing man's coun­ter­part—the overly primped “lit­tle fresh meat”—prompted the need to re­name this fa­mil­iar fig­ure.

Ag­ing writer Feng Tang, who pop­u­lar­ized the plight of the youni in a 2017 es­say, “How to Avoid Be­com­ing a Greasy, Dirty Mid­dleAged Man,” of­fered a num­ber of pointers to avoid greasi­ness: “Never talk down to the younger gen­er­a­tion”; “Never stop buy­ing.” Un­for­tu­nately, these have been mocked as be­ing pre­cisely the things a weisuo­nan would do, such as hum­ble-brag­ging and try­ing to ap­pear “down” with mil­len­ni­als.

Age is no bar­rier to be­ing a grease­ball—overly con­fi­dent young ac­tors like Yang Yang and Yang Shuo are reg­u­larly ac­cused of greasi­ness—nor is gen­der: Gos­sipy older women who ob­sess about yoga, cos­met­ics, and the need for a bet­ter apart­ment also be­long in the grease bucket.

Phoenix Man凤凰男Sur­veys on dat­ing sites con­sis­tently sug­gest one of the least pop­u­lar stereo­types is the self-made or “phoenix” man. Re­fer­ring to the idea of “a phoenix that soars out of a chicken coop,” this is an or­di­nary man who grew up in the coun­try­side, but worked tire­lessly to get a good gaokao re­sult and per­haps even­tu­ally a high-level ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion in the city. So why is the des­tiny-chang­ing phoenix man not re­spected for his hard work and en­ter­pris­ing na­ture?

The an­swer lies in his ru­ral roots—which make him par­tic­u­larly un­pop­u­lar with mid­dle­class ur­ban “pea­cock girls” (孔雀女). The idea, de­picted in TV shows like Dou­ble sided ad­he­sive tape and New mar­riage age, is that the “phoenix” will have ex­hausted his en­tire fam­ily's fi­nances in his quest for up­ward mo­bil­ity; in turn, the fam­ily will have pinned all their hopes on his suc­cess, and ex­pect him to pro­vide for them. The phoenix man will there­fore pri­or­i­tize the needs of his ex­tended fam­ily over his part­ner, who will be ex­pected to com­ply with the fam­ily's customs, cul­ture, con­trol­ling ways, and de­mands for money. Ur­ban par­ents may find their ru­ral in-laws ir­ri­tat­ing and un­so­phis­ti­cated, or fear that their daugh­ter will end up act­ing as her new fam­ily's un­paid ser­vant.

In ad­di­tion, phoenix men are ac­cused of hav­ing a range of in­se­cu­ri­ties, such as be­ing con­trol­ling over their wives' so­cial life and friends, fear of fail­ure, and be­ing miserly about money due to hav­ing grown up poor.

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