Saturday, 25 February 2017

WANTED: Husband for woman, 35 yrs; education: MA; Job: Lead Editor; Location: Shanghai

Once upon a time, I thought my family cared, or at least worried, enough to read this collection of ramblings. However, I guess that by 35 people don't experience the same concern as when you're 25...Or 18. Perhaps all the moving around alone over the years is a factor. I believe there's a stigma about women who do things on their own. While I think it's admirable for women to travel the globe alone (smartly and safely), the more I live in other countries, the more I see the negative reactions of locals to such behaviour (at times in the Middle East I had to lie about being engaged or married). Being a single woman in China has offered me some insight as to the perception of unwed women here. After watching the most appalling YouTube video (sponsored by the skincare line SK-II which I think is Japanese), about Chinese parents ashamed of their unwed daughters, and a podcast on BBC about Japan's shrinking population (although at times it just sounds like women being blamed for not wanting to get married and have children), I felt extremely proud to be an unmarried, childless, 35-year-old woman, and on my birthday, I danced like I was one, too!

YouTube video:

BBC Podcast:

Celebrating turning 35 in Shanghai was one of best birthdays I've ever had!  I was without family and Canadian friends. Yet, I wasn't entirely without friends and family: the Irish chef, the Diving halfie, and two gentlemen named Mike and Willy were present to make sure we celebrated the night right! A lot different from my last milestone. We wanted to try out a different restaurant, but because my birthday was the day before Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), not much was open. Thank goodness the bar across the street from the restaurant was open (owned by an American) so we could dance the night away!!!

 Mike & Willy bought me the gorgeous scarf and made sure the cake had birthday candles!
 Surrounded by a group of amazing gentlemen!
 My dinner: Good ol' pub fare! Fish and chips :)
 The Irish chef ordered a burger and fries.
Birthday presents :)

Living in Shanghai and seeing the marriage markets (there's one that pops up every few weeks just outside my office), has bothered me so much. Listening to BBC's podcast added fuel to the fire, and I couldn't stop myself from writing this because I'm sick and tired of hearing women being blamed for the lack of marriages and declining birth rates (especially in Asia). The damning podcast made me ashamed of my heritage because I firmly believe it's about choice. A woman has the right to choose. Her decision to marry and/or have children is her choice. Criticizing a woman for not wanting to get married and/or have children isn't going to increase marital or childbirth rates. Maybe if women had been treated equally and/or society supported men's changed roles in the household (taking paternity leave, sharing household responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, taking care of children,etc.), women would be more willing to give up their freedom to get married and have children. With almost zero social systems put in place for mothers and new parents (childcare at work, special leave for mothers, more money for men who want to take paternity leave, etc.), it's no wonder women don't want children. Maybe instead of blaming women, we could look at the reasons why women don't want to get married and/or have children and determine how those concerns can be addressed and solved.

I may have corrupted Hailey, a Chinese national, (centre) on New Year's Eve (Dec 31st) when we took her out for a night of Japanese food, drinking and dancing! She played foosball and kicked some stranger's butt! Then she chatted the night away with some Laowai (the usually derogatory slang for 'foreigner' in Chinese). I don't think her family would've been happy, but I made sure she had fun, stayed hydrated, and that got home safely.