Women are breadwinners too

By Kylin Zhang Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/16 14:36:58

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

My husband recently got a good job at a top-notch tech company in China in a coastal city. It's a huge step-up from his current job. I was quite happy for him and have been job-hunting in the meanwhile.

When the news got out, I received lots of congratulations. But as more and more people came to me to discuss this, I became more irritated. Almost everybody was saying the same thing - because of his good offer and probably good salary, I can take some burden off.

"It's your bliss that your husband makes good money," one of them said to me.

At first I smiled and nodded. I knew what they meant, and I knew they said this out of goodness. But when repeated so much, I did not feel comfortable with it. I'm perfectly capable of providing for myself. I have a good job and will land another good job; it's not like I have to depend on my husband to provide for me.

Such comments stem from a long tradition of patriarchy in Chinese society. For the longest time, women are thought to be dependent on men. Even to this day, that kind of discrimination still exists, and it's usually sugarcoated as compliments, such as in my case. People feel happy for my husband finding a good job, and it comes in the form of congratulating me because they think that means I don't have to work as hard.

There's nothing congratulatory about that. I have my own career, my own track and my own life. I'm happy for my husband, but it's an entirely different matter. His success shouldn't cover me and shouldn't come at the expense of my career.

As a feminist, I often find such attitudes annoying, yet they exist abundantly in Chinese society and permeate in every aspect.

During my gym meets in elementary school, the teachers often reminded us to be careful, to protect ourselves and not fight too hard against the boys. In high school, when a couple of my friends started dating, they often showed me articles they found online about how to be a good girlfriend. Tips included being gentle, being obedient to your man, let him take the check at dinners, let him buy you anniversary gifts and don't injure his pride.

Classes on "women's virtues" are still popular even in this day and age. A couple of weeks ago, videos of female lecturer Ding Xuan teaching a virtue class went viral. In the videos, she stressed concepts such as "a woman should know her best gift is her purity."

This is the reality we face today. Women in this country are still receiving the treatment from hundreds of years ago. Among people who congratulated me for being able to "enjoy my life" and "let the man work for the household," many are actually women and they do not know what was wrong with their comments. In my case, I'm beginning by refusing to receive any more of these congratulations and saying, "Thanks, but I can earn my own money."

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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