This place never to ceases to amaze me with its culture, ways of life and social expectation. A country such as China, which is so steeped in tradition versus Australia which is not so heavily entrenched proves a fascinating contrast to live within.
Recently, I learnt about the Yellow Pearls of China. When I think yellow pearls, I think of the glittering Paspaley showrooms in Sydney, Darwin and Broome that I have visited. With its beautiful champagne pearls set in diamonds and gold. In China a yellow pearl is quite the opposite. It is a metaphor for women over the age of 30 who are unmarried. It means they are old, lack lustre and worthless. China is an entirely gender biased society that places importance on the men of the family as the men are the ones who will look after their parents when they are old. A female, if married, will look after her in-laws or if not married is considered somewhat useless and therefor no expectations placed on her to provide.
China’s One Child Policy has meant that 3 generations have only been allowed to have one baby. If the first baby was a girl or was disabled they were allowed to have another to try for a boy who would ultimately be the provider. These rules have been relaxed since the beginning of this year so that if both parents are only children they can have a second but if one of the parents had a sibling they are still only able to have one child. There are laws against the sonographer telling the parents the gender of the baby, although I am sure that with the right kind of hand shake the sonographers may accidentally let it slip, this is China after all. It is estimated that there are over 1 million abortions each year particularly in the rural areas where it is even more vital that couples have boys.
Because of this policy there are now 40 million more men than women within the marriageable age. Almost twice the population of Australia who don’t have any chance of finding a wife. There is also another phenomena sweeping the men of China. Education. Many women particularly those in cities and particularly those who have been fortunate enough to be born to parents that can afford it, are sent away to the West be educated. They are not expected to just gain a Bachelor’s degree they are expected as a minimum to gain a masters but preferably a PhD. So they leave China at about 18 years of age and return around 10 years later, at 28 years old, after having lived within the freedoms of the western culture, educated, gainfully employed and earning very good money. They have also learned independence and how worthy they are.
Enter a Chinese man. His family is of equal or greater wealth and stature to the female. He expects his wife to be submissive, be a good piece of arm candy to maintain his stature within the community, keep working until first child (boy of course) is born and then stay home and raise it. Discarding all of her personal wealth, freedoms and education. Oh and for a man to take a wife she must not be any older than 29. When a female in China hits 30 and is unmarried they are shelved and called Yellow Pearls. It is shameful for Chinese men to have brides older than 30.
So not only are there 40 million too many men but there is a growing population of Yellow Pearls. Women shelved because they are too old and well educated to even be considered as a potential spouse which makes the population of men who will never be able to marry even greater.
Let me further describe to you what a typical Yellow Pearl is like. She speaks English well as she was generally educated in the West, she is financially independent and usually has her own home, and she is well groomed and well dressed in the latest fashions. She has a mind of her own and when faced with the prospect of a Chinese male or a Western male will choose the Western one because they will usually allow her to continue in her career and let her have a pathway in life that she chooses and independent thoughts.
After having spent the past 3 months observing how men treat women, how men behave spitting and blowing snot balls out of their noses (no tissue) in the street, smoking and leering at other women. I am starting to wonder if the mothers are intentionally sending their daughters away not just for education but for a chance at a life that they never had.