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英国《卫报》:中国剩男,临时夫妻风行一时

看见 2019-11-07 13:58:06

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'My parents say hurry up and find a girl': China's millions of lonely 'leftover men'


Men in a migrant village on the outskirts of Beijing. China’s male-to-female ratio is 136:100 among single people born since the 1980s. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images



When Liu returned to his childhood village to celebrate Chinese New Year, his parents had arranged a familiar and depressing task for him: a series of speed dates. Over a week back in rural Jiangxi province, he met half a dozen potential wives in encounters he says felt more like job interviews. He expects to go through the same process next year, without much hope of success.

大刘回村过年时,父母给他安排了老套且让人沮丧的任务:速配。回江西老家一个礼拜间,他一口气相了六个,他说更像是找工作面试。明年估计又是一轮,可成功的希望不大。


For Jin, who works with Liu in the factories of China’s Pearl River Delta, the cajoling matchmaker was his second cousin. “My cousin brought [the date] to meet me in a public square in the village, then left us together,” Jin recalls. “A few minutes in, this girl made it clear that owning an apartment would be essential, but she could wait till later for a car. And she’d be OK if the apartment wasn’t in the centre of the town, but I had to have a deposit of at least 200,000 yuan [about £22,500].”

大刘在中国珠江三角洲一家工厂工作,同在此地工作的小金也有同样的遭遇,给他张罗相亲的是二表哥。“表哥把人带到村里的广场,然后就走了,”小金回忆道。“几分钟里,这女孩挑明了要有房,车可以慢慢买。房子不在市中心没问题,但至少要有20万存款。”


In recent years, the patriarchal Chinese state has launched campaigns warning unmarried urban females over the age of 27 of the perils of becoming “leftover women”. But in reality – due to sex-selective abortions, a traditional preference for sons and the country’s one-child policy – there’s a far larger cohort of “leftover men”.

近些年来,父权中国警告27岁还未嫁人的城市女性可能成为“剩女”,可实际上,因为重男轻女和一孩政策导致的流产,“剩男”的数量更多。


Official state media put the male-to-female ratio at 136:100 among unmarried people born since the 1980s. Professor Jin Tiankui, an influential sociologist in China’s policy-making circle, predicts that by 2020 there will be 30 million more men than women in the 24–40 age bracket.

官媒说八十年代后出生的人口男女比例是1.36比1。有社会学家预测,到2020年,24到40岁年龄层男性将比女性多3000万。


Liu and Jin blame their lack of romantic success on their low social status as migrant workers from rural provinces. The state says there are about 278 million others like them, the backbone of the country’s wildly successful manufacturing, construction and service industries. They embody the nation’s most intractable problems of inequality – loneliness included.

老刘和小金怪自己社会地位低,来自农村的民工谈不了浪漫。官方数据说,像他们一样的农民工有2.78亿,他们是国家在制造业、建筑业和服务业获得巨大成功的中流砥柱。他们表现出国家最难解决的不平等问题,包括孤独在内。


Many low-paid migrant workers are put off by the cost of dating and marriage dowries. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty



In 2010, the main state-endorsed union surveyed thousands of rural migrants in 10 cities across the country, concluding that “the defining aspect of the migrant experience” is a sense of loneliness due to a lack of romantic prospects. A separate survey found that more than 70% of construction workers (almost exclusively rural migrants) reported emotional loneliness as the most painful aspect of their lives.

2010年,工会对全国10个城市的数千名农民工进行调查,得出结论说,“进城打工最主要的特点”是因为没办法恋爱带来的孤独感。另一项调查发现,超过七成的建筑工人(几乎都是农民工)称情感孤独是生活中最痛苦的事。


Liu is 33 and lonely. As a teenager he left school to help his parents on their farm, but soon ventured south to Shenzhen on the border with Hong Kong, hoping to make more money. When I first met him he was working 12 hours a day, six days a week assembling iPhones at one of the Foxconn plants where Jin now works.

大刘33岁,孤身一人。少年时辍学,帮父母下地干活,但很快就南下深圳,想多赚点钱。我第一次见他时,他每天干12个小时,一周六天,在富士康工厂里组装苹果手机,小金现在在这家工厂工作。


Without advanced education, Liu is only qualified for insecure, low-skilled jobs. The long hours and low pay make the practicalities of dating more daunting. “It’s not because I’m a shy person. I just don’t have enough money to feel confident,” he tells me. “When a man has money, every woman feels destined to be his girlfriend.”

没受过什么高等教育,大刘这能干些没有保障的粗活。工作时间长,工资低,让谈朋友更困难。“不是因为我腼腆,我压根没钱,没信心,”他告诉我。“男人有了钱,所有女人都觉得命中注定是他男友。”


When Liu is not worrying about his own loneliness, he’s feeling guilty about letting his parents down. “They sacrificed so much to bring me up, and all they want to see is that I’m married. But I’m not able to give them that,” he tells me. “They try not to put too much pressure on me, but I know they’re under a lot of pressure from neighbours and relatives. I have two sisters and I’m their only son.” The tradition of continuing the family lineage is strong in China; many rural parents would consider it a terrible failure if their sons did not find a wife.

大刘不担心自己孤身一人时,就觉得让父母失望过意不去。“他们牺牲了那么多把我养大,就想看到我结婚。可我却办不到。”他告诉我。“他们努力不给我太多压力,但我知道他们也受到乡里乡亲的压力。我有两个妹妹,我是唯一的儿子。”中国有承继香火的传统,许多农村父母把儿子找不到老婆视作一种严重的失败。


By various metrics, China is ranked as one of the most unequal societies in the world. The architecture of this inequality is the system of hukou or household registration. Since the 1950s, hukou has cleaved the population into urban and rural categories, allowing China’s ruling elite to better control the lives of the country’s vast rural population in a planned economy. 

从很多方面说,中国社会都存在很大差距。户口制度也是一个原因。五十年代以来,户口制度把人分成城市人和农村人,在计划经济体制下更好地管控大量农村人口。


Today much of China’s economic life has been transformed, but key elements of hukou remain. This means that rural migrants who have lived and worked in a city for many years, contributing enormously to its prosperity, do not have the same access to employment, housing, education and healthcare as officially registered urban residents. 

今天,中国经济生活发生了巨大改变,但户口制度还没有取消。这意味着农民工在城市生活工作很多年,对城市的繁荣做出巨大贡献,但在就业、住房、教育和医疗方面还是没法和城里人相比。


Bachelors take part in a mass match-making event in Shanghai. Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP



Roughly two-thirds of the migrant workforce is aged under 35. I’ve interviewed dozens of men like Liu and Jin in Shenzhen, and most have little interest in rural life in villages that have been left behind by China’s economic boom. But their prospects for settling in big cities are little better than those of previous generations.

大概三分之二的农民工不到35岁,我在深圳采访了大刘和小金等数十个农民工,大多数对村里的生活毫无兴趣,中国的经济繁荣把农村落在了后面。但他们在城市安家的希望并不比上一代人更光明。


They’re unlikely to earn enough to own a home or even a car, prerequisites to be considered marriage material by the urban middle class. Access to the tertiary education which can unlock better paying jobs is restricted by fiercely competitive entrance exams, where many young rural men are unsurprisingly outshone by their well-resourced urban counterparts.

他们不可能赚够钱买房甚至买车,可这是城市中产阶级眼中结婚的物质基础。接受高等教育,可以找到工资更高的工作,但考试竞争激烈,许多农村年轻人没法和教育资源充足的城里人相比。


Increasingly, even workers in their late teens and early 20s are feeling the pressure. “These days, the only reason my parents call me is to tell me to hurry up and find a girlfriend. I’ve stopped answering their calls,” says Jiang, a 22-year-old Foxconn worker from Sichuan province.

现在,不到二十岁或是二十岁刚出头的工人都感觉到压力。“现在,父母打电话给我的唯一原因就是催我赶快找女朋友。我现在不接电话了。”22岁的小蒋来自四川,在富士康打工。


Lacking financial independence, young rural migrants rely on their parents for emotional and practical support more than their urban educated counterparts. They’re less likely to object to their parents arranging speed dates, or ultimately choosing them a partner and negotiating the caili (dowry payment).

相比成立人,年轻的农民工经济不独立,更加依赖父母提供情感和实际支持。他们不太可能拒绝父母安排的速配活动,或是最终选一个对象,谈彩礼的事。


This old tradition, banned in the era of Mao, has made a comeback in rural China. There are a number of reasons: the embrace of capitalist and entrepreneurial values; the imbalanced ratio of men to women, which drives a sellers market; and the persistence of patriarchal values which consider women to be properties, owned first by their parents and then their husband. 

在中国农村,几十年前被禁止的旧习又回来了。原因有这么几个:接纳了资本主义和企业价值;男女比例不平衡,卖方市场;父权社会价值把女性当做财产,首先属于父母,然后属于丈夫。


The bride’s family would be seen to be getting a raw deal – losing both face and a rare opportunity for considerable economic gain – if a fee was not part of the bargain. The amount could range from the equivalent of a few thousand to tens of thousands of pounds, and often proves to be a deal breaker in these negotiations.

如果不收钱,新娘家就亏大了,输了面子又输了大笔进账。彩礼从几千到几万英镑不等,经常谈到彩礼就谈不下去了。


Even if a match is made, things don’t always end well. Hasty weddings can lead to hasty divorces; in one county in Henan province, up to 85% of all divorces in the period from 2013 to 2015 involved rural migrant couples. The government has signalled its concern about high divorce rates and “temporary couples” – made up of individuals who marry in their villages and then return to cities to form separate romantic relationships there.

就算结了婚,也未必能有结果。结得快也离得快,河南一个县,2013年到2015年间,高大85%的离婚发生在农民工夫妇中。政府对高离婚率和“临时夫妻”表示担忧,临时夫妻说的是在农村结了婚,在城里又搞了一个。


In a state that values social stability above all, this growing cohort of millions of disaffected and sexually frustrated young men is an unwelcome development. In a rare move, the Chinese Communist Party used an official policy document to declare its intention to “step up efforts to solve the problems facing second-generation rural migrant workers”.

在一个强调社会稳定的国家,成千上万且数量日益增加的年轻男子,他们找不到媳妇而愤愤不平,这不是个好苗头。中国还不同寻常地发布官方文件宣布要“加大努力解决二代农民工面临的问题”。


Of course, loneliness affects migrant women and men alike, and women suffer in myriad ways from broken relationships and disintegrated families. But it’s the image of sexually deprived migrant men that figures prominently in the state’s anxious imagination. 

当然,孤独对男女农民工是一样的,家庭破裂以各种方式让女人受苦。但性饥渴的男农民工尤其让人浮想联翩。


For millions like Liu and Jin, the search for love and intimacy – and with it dignity and social worth – goes on.

大量像大刘和小金这样的人,还在继续寻找爱情,寻找尊严和社会价值。(转自公号:英文联播)



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