Maybe it’s spring time, or the lack of it in NY, I have been drawing more flowers and women than usual.
“Love Hunter” runs in today’s NYtimes Business section.
The story is about modern day Chinese matchmaker, and how much love cost in today’s materialistic China. It’s a very interesting and depressing article, you can read it here
, I highly recommend it!
Funny I got this assignment, I had dinner with some remote relatives just a couple weeks ago and got schooled about marriage. They told me I should find a lawyer, doctor or a banker as husband, quit my job and concentrate on being a good wife and mother. I was pretty upset but couldn’t speak up against them as they were the elders. I later told my non-lawyer/doctor/banker white illustrator boyfriend about it and he found the conversation very absurd and hard to believe, so I made him read this NYtimes story.
There were good news and bad news during the creation of this piece. When AD Minh proposed to me the idea of having the hunter looking for the most exotic and beautiful woman-bird, I thought it’s brilliant and perfect because it talks about how women are being objectified and their appearance is the only thing that matters.The editor was skeptical about the concept initially, but we got the green light eventually after pushing hard for it. That was the good news. The bad news - this cover image bumped by a photo and became an interior page last min.
Thank you Minh, always a pleasure!
Funny, I just read another, very insightful article on Aeon recently that touched on this a bit. It was mainly focusing on the huge values and worldview gap between the generation born after 1980 and their parents. (A lot of young people want to be more civic-minded and charitable and live more idealistically, but just the basic rules of society and their parents’ perception of what measures need to be taken in order to be able to live well are constantly pushing against that.)
The NYTimes article is definitely really depressing. From the rampant materialism to ingrained sexism — yeah, shit is messed up. But I also don’t know how useful it is to focus so entirely on outlier practices like these “love finders” for millionaires without talking about the historical and societal context. (In that regard, I think the Aeon article did a better job giving a wider perspective.) The fact that “love finders” can exist at all is due to China’s current chaotic state, which you always have to consider if you talk about anything related to modern China. In 40+ years, it went from being a poor but relatively equal society to a global, economic juggernaut. People who lived in areas that got the benefits of the shift to a market economy saw everyone around them shoot up in terms of wealth by using every imaginable combination of guanxi (connections), manipulation, sheer luck, and, yes, hard work. So the mindset that took hold was that you had to scramble and do everything in your power to take what you could, because if you missed out on the opportunity and ended up with an inferior residency status and socioeconomic situation, then it was your own damn fault. People couldn’t trust each other anymore, because everyone had to be assumed to be after his/her own gain; ideals and worldviews broke down and had to be tossed aside if they weren’t profitable.
So in about 40 years, this country, with the largest population in the world, turned its entire society on its head and reshuffled the deck and redealt all the cards. It’s like if everyone had been waiting in line for rations, and suddenly they were told there was no line anymore and it was just a free-for-all. Well, yes. People are going to run and push and mob to get what they can. I feel like a lot of people aren’t aware of the sheer magnitude and speed of this change. You can’t modernize so quickly with a country so big and a population so complicated without encountering some giant problems. The bottom line is, I don’t think it’s going to be fruitful to tackle these attitudes and outlooks until China’s economy actually stabilizes, and it stops changing so much. If somehow the Communist Party can survive that shift from double digit growth from industrial, unskilled labor to a service economy, then these things can be addressed. But who knows if the CCP, considering how rigid they are, can weather those challenges when their very legitimacy as a party is founded on improving people’s material conditions. In my admittedly non-expert opinion, another big shift is going to hit China a decade or two down the line, and only time can tell where it goes from there.