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“Chinese people still put their faith in destiny,” she told the new employees. We’re giving people the freedom of love.”After the orientation, Gong took the elevator back up to her office, on the tenth floor, and finished the day, as she often does, answering letters in her capacity as “Little Dragon Lady,” an advice columnist attuned to the specific problems of the People’s Republic.
“They say, ‘Oh, I’ll get used to whatever happens.’ But you know what? She flipped through messages from anguished bachelors, meddling parents, and anxious brides—many of them current or former members.
But in China, even as rates of divorce have climbed, so much of the culture revolves around family and offspring that ninety-eight per cent of the female population eventually marries—one of the highest levels in the world.
(China has neither civil unions nor laws against discrimination, and it remains a very hard place to be gay.)The proliferation of choice has been so radical that Gong has often been described in the local press as “China’s No.
China had few bars or churches, and no co-ed softball, so pockets of society were left to improvise.
Factory towns organized “friend-making clubs” for assembly-line workers; Beijing traffic radio, 103.9, set aside a half hour on Sundays for taxi-drivers to advertise themselves.
Dating that did not lead to the altar was “hooliganism,” he said, and under his system sexual privacy was nonexistent; local Party cadres kept track of household condom distribution.(“If anyone ever liked me, I have yet to hear about it.”) She spent her childhood at the foot of a mountain in the village of Waduangang, in Hunan, the home province of Chairman Mao. During the Cultural Revolution, they were paired because they had been branded as “well-off peasants,” one of the Five Black Categories.When Gong was sixteen, her test scores got her into the top local high school, a transformative moment for a farming family.A few days later, she was on a tractor that plunged into a ditch, and the accident crushed her right leg and battered her face.
When she got out of the hospital, wearing a hip cast, she discovered that a rural school was no place for a student who was unable to walk. Instead, Gong’s mother moved into her dorm room and hoisted her daughter around campus on her back.She recently released a book, “Love Well, Don’t Get Hurt,” and her advice reads like an argument against China’s ancient pieties.If your mother-in-law sees you as “nothing but a baby-maker” and your husband won’t help, she told one new wife, forget the husband, “get some courage, and get out of that family.” In the case of a newly rich couple with the husband sleeping around, she applauded the wife for not becoming a “blubbering, feeble, pitiful creature,” and, instead, making him sign a contract that will cost him all his assets if he cheats again.Arranged marriages were banned in 1950, but twenty years later, when the anthropologist Yan Yunxiang moved to a village in China’s northeast, local women had so little say regarding whom they married that they sobbed when they left home on their wedding day.