In traditional Chinese society, marrying young is common and encouraged by most families. Women who are single and in their late twenties and beyond are often called ‘leftover women’ or shengnu which is a pejorative term from the media.
We sat down and spoke with Aubrey, a Chinese local living in Shenzhen, who was recently was forced by her mom to attend a speed dating session. (She requested that we don’t include her full name.)
Aubrey is 25 years old and has become quite Westernized after studying abroad for university. For this spontaneous outing, her 20-year-old sister also tagged along. Here’s her story:
“The event was in Luohu district on a Saturday afternoon at a dim sum restaurant. I didn’t look at the address until we got into the car so we were about 40 minutes late. I’m glad at least it was during the day so we didn’t feel obliged to all hangout after.
We made our way upstairs and when the elevator doors glided open, we immediately saw an older auntie in the midst of giving a passionate speech. We were a bit confused as it looked more like a meeting than an event.
Instead of a long table, the organizers pushed together some circular tables and the girls were sat far away from the guys. There was actually a girl I knew, a family friend. She was laughing when I arrived.
As for the guys, at first sight there were none that I found attractive, at least for my standards. However, they could definitely be eligible by Chinese standards (awesome job, car, house).
What I also found interesting was the approach my sister and I took. We tried to speak up and start conversation and make jokes to lighten the mood in the room but were faced with blank stares whereas the more reserved girls ended up being approached by more guys.
After we sat down, another auntie in a full nightgown started giving a performance about a poem about youth. After that, the aunties told us to go around introducing ourselves, and everyone was so embarrassed. They basically just said their name, where they graduated and nothing else. One guy introduced himself, then actually left.
Introduce yourself. Image via Aubrey
We then played a game where we were given a chance to pair up and interact. The objective? The guys blew a balloon, and the girls would try to pop it. No other instructions were given – it was pretty awkward and people were reluctant to participate. I stood up to make it less awkward, and others sat there and didn’t want to do anything.
What do we do after? Image via Aubrey
All in all, I would definitely not go to another one of these events. It was the first time something was set up by the organizers and costed RMB68 for each person to go.
I’d rather meet people organically, at bars, brunches, events – whatever it might be.
I do feel my parents are a bit more concerned about me being single since I turned 25. My dad constantly tells me, ‘It’s time, don’t disappoint me. Do you have a boyfriend? Are you seeing anyone?’ They also stress to date a Chinese guy and not a foreigner.
I also never thought my mom would be this way. She always said don’t date as every relationship is a lie or distraction, date later.”
[Cover image via That’s]