A hidden camera experiment has revealed just how brutal China’s marriage market can be.
A hidden camera experiment has revealed just how brutal China’s marriage market can be.

China’s ruthless dating scene: Parents in brutal video

THOUGHT being single was tough? Try living in China.

Sure, we have to soldier through fruitless Tinder matches, unsolicited d**k pics and that classic romantic opener of: "Hi, u horny?"

But compared to the Shanghai Marriage Market, the dating scene here is downright tame.

Guo Yingguang has posted a viral video that captures just how tough the dating scene can be in China.

The Shanghai Marriage Market is largely made up of Chinese parents seeking a suitable partner for their son or daughter. The market runs from 12-5pm every Saturday and Sunday, and provides a chance for parents to talk to each other to see whether their respective children might be a match.

Guo, a 34-year-old photographer, is university educated. She studied arts in London and speaks English.

But for some parents on the marriage market, this can actually be a hindrance. Guo took a hidden camera to the famous People's Park in Shanghai, with a written advert mentioning she had a master's degree.

"What's the use of her getting a master's degree? A bachelor's is more than enough," one man can be heard saying. "Just like the old saying goes, 'a woman's virtue lies in her lack of talent'."

This is Guo Yingguang. She’s determined to make a statement about marriages in China.
This is Guo Yingguang. She’s determined to make a statement about marriages in China.

The nation's skewed gender imbalance means there are currently 118 men for every 100 women - and around 200 million Chinese are currently single.

Yet despite the statistical shortage of women, Chinese men remain picky and unmarried women aged over 28 in China are branded "leftovers".

A lot of parents in the video asked Guo how old she was - a fact she deliberately left out of her personal ad.

When she tells one woman she was born in 1983, the woman responded: "Oh, you are very brave!" and walks away.

One man said girls over 35 would stay single for the rest of their lives, "because there's just nobody for them".

"After I told them how old I was, there would be an extremely awkward moment," said Guo. "You can actually see on their faces. They don't really care at all about why you think you're a good person."

She said they would start discussing her "statistics" - openly and in front of her - as if she wasn't there.

Parents would walk away as soon as Guo said she was 34.
Parents would walk away as soon as Guo said she was 34.

Bizarrely, Guo was often even compared to real estate. One man likened her to a nice house in the countryside that was attractive, but "too aged".

Another said: "She's a really good house ... but her apartment is in the suburbs, not so good ... because she is not young."

Guo said she was inspired to make the video after she broke up with her boyfriend of nine years.

It became part of a wider project on women in China not being given a say in their marriages.

"I was mentally prepared, but it was still a lot to take in," she said. "And I was like, that's enough, and I need to be alone for a while."

She said there's a difference between how parents advertise men and women on the market. For men, the focus is on property ownership and the condition of their car.

For women, the focus is their age and appearance, and how well they can cook.

She said candidates often may not even know their parents are posting on their behalf.

"I am not against marriage," said Guo. "What I am against is this uniform criteria of happiness - you have to get married at a certain age. If you don't, you can't be happy. You are a loser in life.

"Let us live our own lives."

Guo insists she’s not against marriage — just the idea that there’s only one correct formula for it.
Guo insists she’s not against marriage — just the idea that there’s only one correct formula for it.

Women in China face a number of social challenges, including sexual harassment, and discrimination in university admissions and employment.

A 2016 online survey of university students found that nearly 70 per cent of respondents, aged 18 to 22, had experienced some form of sexual harassment on campus.

Similarly, a 2013 survey by China Labour Bulletin found that 70 per cent of the surveyed factory workers reported being sexually harassed at the workplace.



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