Read This, Not That: All The Single Men
Writing for Good Magazine, Sushma Subramanian and Deborah Jian Lee examine the effects China’s gender imbalances have had on poor men from rural villages:
After a generation born under these conditions, a marriage squeeze was inevitable. “If there are more men than women, someone is going to be left out, and it’s going to be the poor guys,” Edlund says. One day, as Chen ventures into the jasmine-scented jungle to find his water buffalo, he describes his family members, many of whom have been impacted by these demographic shifts. His brother keeps striking out with girls he dates in the city; his sister found a husband instantly; his uncle, desperate for companionship, bought a trafficked bride from Vietnam.
Chen’s younger brother, Chen Hongyuan, moved to Shenzhen in 2000 in search of higher-paying work and a larger pool of single women. But he found that dating in the city was still a challenge. “Aside from the extremely handsome, rich, and powerful, most Chinese guys have a tough time finding wives,” he says. The rugged 30-year-old works at a plastic-toy factory in Shenzhen, China’s manufacturing hub. Even though he met the love of his life there—“an unforgettable true love”—their fairy tale quickly came undone when she told her parents.
After their 10-month whirlwind romance, the woman, whom he met on the factory floor, returned to her home in Guanxi Province over the Lunar New Year to deliver the news. Her parents told her she was too young for marriage. Her work in the factories was still an important source of revenue for their family. And when they discovered Chen Hongyuan’s social status, they balked. He’s from a village? He works in an assembly line? They locked her in the house for months.