High divorce rate symbolizes Shanghai’s pursuit of happiness

By Yang Lan Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-9 18:43:01

I was so proud when I heard that Shanghai lead second in divorce rates among Chinese cities. The Ministry of Civil Affairs recently disclosed that the divorce rate in China has risen year-on-year for the past 12 years, with 3.64 million couples divorced in 2014. Over 40 percent of those couples were divorced within three years of getting married.

Of course, the media pounced on this "disgraceful" news, concluding that because the majority of those who get divorced were from the so-called "post 80s generation," they must have been raised as spoiled single children and therefore unaccommodating of other people's feelings, resulting in rifts in their marriages.

This kind of criticism has become such a tiresome cliché. Is my generation self-centered? Yes. Were we spoiled growing up? Also yes. That's what makes us so special. But don't blame us, blame our parents, who wanted nothing but the best for their children after a century of social upheaval. They might have overdone it a bit - my mother still tries to spoon-feed me at supper - but mostly it's been wonderful to be pampered my whole life.

So if everyone wanted nothing but the best for my generation, what's the problem? Wouldn't this include wanting us to be happy in marriage?

Chinese seniors in particular cling to the belief that a couple should stay together their entire lives no matter what. Get real, granny! This is 2015, not 1915. The traditional view that divorce is shameful for a woman and an embarrassment to her family is as old-fashioned as the bianzi (braid) hairstyle.

Please, grandpa, don't go digging out your dusty old volume of Three Obediences and Four Virtues from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), which required women to obey their father before marriage, obey their husband during the marriage and obey their sons in widowhood. These values are rooted in millennia of gender inequality where women were seen as subhuman and had absolutely no standing in society. Back then, if women wanted out of an unhappy marriage, suicide was their only option.

It's not just the old folks who are complaining. Some sociologists are blaming social networking for the increase in divorce. One was quoted in China Comment magazine saying that apps such as WeChat and Momo have made it more convenient for people to have affairs. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up! The reality, however, is that social networking is helping unhappy couples realize that there is someone better out there. Shouldn't we be happy for them?

Speaking of social media, China's star athlete Liu Xiang announced on his Weibo account in June that he had ended his marriage to D-list actress Ge Tian due to "differences in their personality" after less than a year. The supercilious media used the announcement to tear down the disgraced Olympian even lower while netizens gloated about how stupid Liu was in the first place for marrying the infamous "crotch bomb" actress. I, however, applaud Liu for needing only 291 days to realize the error of his ways.

Here in Shanghai, one of the leading causes of divorce, besides all the rich men with their mistresses, are couples who get legally separated so that they can avoid paying high taxes on their property. Really, this is a thing! It's a legal loophole that allows new divorcees to transfer home ownership to their "ex" spouse, then purchase a new home as a first-time buyer, which comes with all kinds of tax sweeteners. This is a good thing, people! Where would our economy be without this real estate boom?

Can't anyone else besides these couples see that China's growing divorce rate is a beautiful phenomenon? For the first time in 5,000 years of history people are finally putting their personal happiness first! That means we as a society are becoming happier.

According to the United Nations' World Happiness Report, Denmark was the happiest country in the world in 2014. Not by coincidence, that same year Denmark had a record-high number of divorces, one of the highest in Europe. Using these figures we can see there could be a direct correlation between divorce and happiness.

And with 3 million Chinese couples divorcing every year, I have a feeling China will soon top this index.

Posted in: TwoCents, Metro Shanghai, Pulse

blog comments powered by Disqus