Debate: Seeking a partner

Updated: 2010-07-05 08:00

(China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Yi Yangang

Onus on us to improve women's lot

The beauty contest held simultaneously in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen on June 20 drew about 50,000 woman candidates not only from China, but also from abroad. The finalists, selected on the basis of their looks, figures, educational qualifications and values, will get the "chance" to date 18 millionaire bachelors.

Most importantly, they will be evaluated by "feng shui masters", who will determine whether they have wang fu, or good luck, to ensure a bright future for their prospective husbands. Only 18 women will be selected from among the more than 50,000 to date the rich bachelors.

This rabid exhibition of wealth reminds one of the days of dynastic rule in China when emperors selected their concubines from among a row of beauties. The only difference is that emperors used their imperial power while today's rich young men use their money to do so. But both reflect the sad truth of Chinese women's destiny being determined not by them but by the power and wealth of men.

Gender inequality has been the most striking feature of society ever since its transition to patriarchy. In a male-dominated society, men's power and wealth can acquire anything, while women have to suffer their fate silently. Every year we see an increasing number of modeling and beauty contests. Beautiful women in heavy makeup and tantalizing postures adorn the covers of magazines and billboards as if they were no more than commodities.

This false sense of importance - of adorning magazine covers and billboards - compel women to reshape their images to suit male taste and internalize this perception. The media, unfortunately, helps them accept their commodity-role and this irrational aesthetic of beauty. In the process, they metamorphose into playthings of men.

The fact that women put too much emphasis on their looks indicates they want their fate to be determined by men. Society, in its outward appearance, is supposed to be gender neutral. Women have the chance to rise to the higher echelons of the academic, corporate and other fields - and as exception to the rule some of them do so. But most of them, once they step into a workplace, find that the social rules of game are tilted overwhelmingly in favor men. Women have to make comparatively more efforts to reach the level of men. When a woman achieves success in a career, she is usually called "an able woman". But no such labels are attached to "successful men", for as a matter of rule men are supposed to be "successful".

Some women go to other extremes to get social (sic) recognition. They flaunt their looks to draw public attention. But what they actually do in the process is belittle the dignity of women.

Though it's time women held up "half the sky", they still face the risk of being marginalized and dwarfed in society. The status of women in society cannot be changed in one stroke. Besides criticizing the flaunting of wealth by millionaire bachelors and other rich men and reminding women of their importance in society, the government and the public have to take more concrete actions to promote gender equality.

The author is a media commentator. This article was first published in Xinhua Daily Telegraph.