Young netizens in China angered by matchmaking requirements
Photo: image.baidu.com
 
In a matchmaking corner of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park, a young man hailing from China’s Northeast rustbelt region proclaimed that he would only date a women with Beijing hukou, or permanent residence permit. “I would not care if she was even slightly handicapped,” the plain-looking man added.

His remarks instantly hit the headlines. The seemingly ridiculous allegation has garnered public attention because it shed light on what reporters describe as the ‘chain of contempt in Chinese style matchmaking’.

In Beijing, it’s widely reported that Beijing hukou, school district housing, and haigui (a Chinese slang for people who’ve returned to mainland China after having studied abroad for several years) are rising to ‘prominence’ in the capital city’s marriage markets.

The trend led to a backlash among the locals, who then retorted with the infamous ‘chain of contempt’ toward singletons with no hukou in big cities, downtown property and enviable academic background. “We would not consider non-locals unless he (or she) boasts obvious superiority (in certain things),” some local parents declared. “Our family owns several apartments in Beijing, so we would not consider girls of needy families. They may have hidden agendas and take advantage of my son,” a mother said.

The parents have created a so-called matchmaking rating scale which went viral recently, which specifies conditions required by the older generation who worried that their children may accidentally marry someone below their level.

Hukou, personal net worth, monthly income (or annual salary), property and academic background would all be weighed and then bachelors would be categorized into top-level, advanced, standard, low-level and not eligible at all. A perfect match for a golden bachelor with over RMB 10 million net worth and Beijing hukou would be a gorgeous local girl also equipped with school district housing and monthly income of over RMB 20,000. By the standard, those with no hukou and housing in the city would be discarded as not eligible for marriage.

The ‘chain of contempt’ created by mostly elder generations of urbanites with grown-up children has drawn sharp criticism from China’s netizens. Here comes a poignant sarcasm in China’s cyber space. One commented, “It feels like farmers’ market, once the price is agreed the deal could be done.” Another ridiculed, “Obviously, native chickens would want to find birds of wonder from themselves.” And one advised, “If you mothers and fathers keep doing that, your children would end up with no life partners.”

Despite overwhelming criticism from China’s young netizens, the demanding parents seem to stick to their views. For one thing, most of them believe in “marriage hypergamy”,  called men dang hu dui in Chinese, (literally “matching doors and parallel windows”) —the notion that a marriage is only successful if it is between people of the same social class.

In the old days, couples were betrothed even before they met each other. So, men dang hu dui would help to weed out many uncertain factors that may cause disharmony in marriage. The notion still prevails and sometimes it is used in literary works to bring dramatic contradictions. For example, about a decade ago, a soup opera called New Age of Marriage became a hit because it vividly painted miseries that may derive from marrying beneath.

In the story, a girl from a scholar-gentry family in a big city braved into marriage with a promising young man from poverty-stricken rural areas. The couple had gone through some really tough periods due to their difference in background, and their lives were continuously interrupted and burdened by the man’s relatives from lower class. Although the story does reflect some kind of reality, it is also fair to say it echoes with urbanites’ fear of being burdened by marrying beneath and exaggerating the problems young couples from different background face.

Some experts endorse the rationale behind men dang hu dui. After four decades of development, China has ushered in a comparatively ‘stable society’ in which only a few could ascend to higher classes by hard work, according to Shen Bin, a marriage expert. “So, in marriage, it is sensible for people to ‘safeguard’ their own social status (from being dragged down),” he said in a TV interview, noting the ‘philosophy’ works well in Western countries as well.

Some dissenting experts instead warned that marriages are nothing like two families restructuring their assets. “It may be ok for two people to sit down and sign a prenuptial agreement, but it is not ok for two people with different values and beliefs to marry each other just because their conditions match,” Chen Lu, a marriage consultant, was quoted as saying.

Making the ridiculous ‘chain of contempt’ even more ridiculous is the prejudice toward women born in the Year of Goat. “I would want a handicapped daughter-in-law than a brilliant one born in the Year of Goat,” many elderly said. In folklore, some believe girls born in the Year of Goat are ill-fated. “They would bring bad luck to their husbands and end up being infertile,” some elaborated.

The irresponsible remarks against ‘goat girls’ has especially drawn the wrath of young Chinese netizens. “You’ve got no reason to judge goats, because at least they’re not eating grass from your backyard.” “As a goat girl, I would rather be single my whole life than date your son who apparently is from a sick family. Fxxk off! ” This time, marriageable youth who usually dominate China’s cyber space seem to be really angry with the traditional beliefs.  

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