“I feel like there is a monster chasing me. Each year I get older, each year I approach thirty; the monster gets closer and closer. If I am still not married by that time, it is like my life is over.”
Only after many late night conversations with female friends have I slowly begun to grasp the heavy and consuming burden that young women must face in metropolitan cities throughout China. What begins as idle chit chat inevitably grows into a serious discussion about marriage and partner compatibility. More striking than the content of these conversations is the regularity and cohesiveness of the message.
The concept of a shengnü or “leftover woman” is a fairly recent phenomenon in Chinese society. The term refers to single women, over thirty, who live in large cities and are often highly educated and well salaried. Some claim that these women have higher expectations of themselves and their partners or have chosen to put their career ahead of marriage. But this definition misses a key point in understanding such a loaded term, and that is the role of family.
Last week, when my doorbell rang at the optimum moment between my boyfriend leaving for work and me leaving for work—a thirty minute gap that seems to be the only time my local police station does any work—I knew who would be waiting even before I wrenched the reinforced steel door open.
I had my passport, foreign expert certificate and residence permit all primed and ready in a nearby drawer. Almost before the barely post-pubescent police officer opened his mouth, my papers were thrust in his face with a winsome grin and a cheeky, “I’ve got my documents ready, elder brother.”
Rian Dundon, an American photographer who lived in China for 6 years, is trying to fund a new book of photography called Changsha. He is currently fundraising through Emphas.is, which is like Kickstarter for photojournalism. There’s a month left to support the project. We talked over e-mail about his upcoming book.
It’s been nearly a month, and perhaps the discussion regarding Mike Daisey’s fabrications is already passé, but asking writers to ruminate on the nature of truth is like throwing a ball of yarn to a herd of cats. The crux of the debate regarding Daisey’s The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs as excerpted on [...]
I also found it extremely difficult to listen to the “Retraction” episode of This American Life. I could not even listen to the whole episode—I had to read the transcript. The only way I could have relieved the fury building up inside me, as I listened to that podcast, would have been to slap Ira Glass across the face. I have never heard such sanctimonious, self-serving hypocrisy in my life—not from someone I respect.
I am going to tell you some things that may shock you. Richard III was not a hunchback. Salieri played no part in Mozart’s death. On a related note, Facebook is not Mark Zuckerberg’s revenge against a world of human relationships that he realized he could never really be a part of. When I was in college, I was in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged); and every night I, Caitlin Cashin, declared that one of my fellow performers was a preeminent Shakespearean scholar with a bachelors degree knowing full well that neither of these things were true.