In a lot of ways, Chinese culture is vastly different from my North American life, and I don’t claim to understand its many intricacies. One similarity, however, is the social pressure around settling down into a relationship as you reach your late 20s.
Though it’s complete bullshit, many people face mounting expectations from their friends and families to find the perfect partner, settle down and start pumping out babies before the age of 30. These expectations are certainly unrealistic for many people, and fortunately, in North America anyways, less frequent than they used to be.
North America is not China though. In China, if you’re a woman who is nearing 30 and has not settled down with a life partner (and gotten married), you are labelled as a “leftover woman” and you can expect a really unpleasant conversation with your parents as they try to figure out what the hell is wrong with you and where they went wrong. So yes, marriage culture is still raging away in China.
Sounds like a real joy, doesn’t it?
Have no fear though, young, modern, independent Chinese women! You can now ‘rent a boyfriend’ to bring home with you and parade around in front of your overbearing parents and grandparents.
Yes, correct, there is a new pseudo-prostitution trend (though apparently sex is strictly forbidden) that has surfaced in China as a response to the pressure of marital obligation. If you pay for his trip, and then pay an additional fee, you can hire a young Chinese man to loyally follow you around your home-town and pretend to be your fiancee/boyfriend/whatever. Extra fees exist for such tedious deeds as going to see a movie with you or holding your hand.
I guess you could also conceivably use this service if you’re expecting to have a particularly lonely Valentine’s day.
As a side note, I would just like to mention how glad I am to never have been raised in a culture where expectations of marriage are the norm, and are enforced. I will likely never get married, just because I don’t see the point really, but to have a concept that I don’t believe in imposed on my romantic life, and determining my future, sounds completely terrible. So thanks Mom and Dad!
Do you have social/family expectations to get married and settle down by a certain age? Would you consider duping your family by paying to bring along a phoney boyfriend? Do you think it counts as a form of prostitution?
For more information on this story, check out this CBC article.