Chinese New Year is similar to New Year celebrations around the world, but there are some surprising acts becoming tradition in order to avoid social cruelty with boyfriends. The saying “all’s fair in love and war” takes a different spin this Chinese New Year, as many unmarried women are using “love” to avoid “war”; family war, that is. Social pressures vary in weight amongst countries. Family pressure towards a child to establish an acceptable life is especially strong in traditional Chinese families, including the pressure towards a single woman to marry a man. The surprising result is the creation of an underground market of single women and the birth of the “Rented Boyfriend.”
The interesting part of the rented boyfriend business is two-fold. First, it is alarming to comprehend that a family would take just any boyfriend and deem him acceptable in the name of Chinese New Year. Second, the benefits of the rented boyfriend are tiered. As any smart business offering a service; certainly service packages are required. First, there is a basic package that involves acting as a boyfriend on a date to meet the family. Second is a marriage package that includes false holy matrimony for a day. The Chinese New Year fake marriage includes the essentials of a hug, holding hands, and a basic kiss. Of course, each package can be supplemented with other services with the inclusion of an extra charge. The basic cost for the marriage package can range from $82 to $6000. The reason for the range in cost? There are some freelance Robin Hood spouse rentals like 29-year-old Sui Wei, who will offer women with lower-paying jobs a big discount on services.
The big question is, what is the future of rented boyfriends in China? What is the difference between this escort service and prostitution? And finally, what happens the day after the ceremony; will this rented husband carry on with his life, married to several different women? At present, there is no information regarding the legal impact of these fake marriages. Certainly if they occur in a court, there could be stories of rented husbands going after their wife’s estate, should anything happen to her. The threat of judgement, shame, and cruelty all on a social scale are enough to fuel a change in modern Chinese women this Chinese New Year. There have been arguments made that the ability for women to rent a man marks a success for women’s rights in China. While there is merit to the argument, there is always opportunity for women’s rights to evolve. Women shouldn’t feel inclined to commit this odd fraud to appease a family expectations.
The demand for rented boyfriends comes from a social group in China coined, “shengnv” which in the English language translates to “left-over women.” The term itself is derogatory. As 2014 continues to move forward, hopefully these left-overs can grow towards perceiving their status as liberated. At present, women in China are more educated than ever, as graduate degrees and higher education are becoming a popular life choice. In 2015, it will be refreshing to see if Chinese New Year can deflect the woes of social cruelty, and showcase left-overs and their families celebrating the new year to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies.
By Victoria Chuidian
Headlines and Global News