Recently, NPI, a nonprofit organization that supports the development of NGOs, together with a number of print and online media organizations hosted a marriage matchmaking charity event in Beijing. The organizers explained that the project, known as ‘Close to Charity, Date NGO Girls’, is meant to help young female NGO staffers to find their marriage match and to promote the idea of “new happiness”. The first dating event was on April 15, 2012.
However, prominent feminist blogger Lu Ping has questioned why charities and NGOs are spending their resources to promote a culture that reinforces gender, marriage and sexual stereotypes.
Below is the advertisement [zh] for the event:
Yes, this is a marriage matchmaking event. A big and happy event in 2012 for brothers and sisters within the charity circle to compete to become a match for someone, sell their girls and help girls from NGOs find a mate. This is not only a marriage matchmaking event. Elites representing different sectors will gather here and build friendships across industry lines. Experience a new happiness.
If you are from within the charity circle, please recommend single girls from NGOs around you.
If you are a single girl from an NGO, take off your veil and sign yourself up for the function. 2012 has come.
If you like girls who have love in their hearts, don't wait. Sign up for the function and grab your bride.
You are welcome to give us suggestions and creative ideas. You are also welcome to provide resources and become our partners.
In mid-April, from among millions of people, we will find the one for you. Who will become the match that lights up her life? This is what we call karma, please be ready.
Currently, only 16 girls have been selected for the actual dating function. Their pictures and profiles [zh] are hosted on a special page on QQ's web platform.
Marriage matching is a very common phenomena in China, with marriage markets and “matchmaking corners”, as they are known locally, found very easily in major cities, such as in Shanghai. Most of the dating events are either arranged privately by family members or by commercial dating businesses. The question arising from this charity marriage matchmaking is, why are charities and NGOs getting involved in marriage matchmaking and what kind of gender relations they are perpetuating in the process?
Well-known Beijing-based feminist Lu Ping penned a long article [zh] in the China Development Brief, a publication that covers the nonprofit sector in China, criticizing such a charity:
All the participants are single. When it comes to the need of marriage, divorcees and widowers also would have the same need. Why don't the organizers pay attention to their needs? What is the reason for excluding their participation in this event? The chance for divorcees, widowers and homosexuals to find their partners is far less than that of single girls. If this is charity matchmaking, why don't you satisfy the needs of these minorities? To give priority to the mainstream and dominant social groups is not consistent with the spirit of charity.
Mainstream Chinese society is suffering from a pathology of marriage coercion. It pressures everyone to marry at the appropriate age. Or else the person is immature and not loyal to his or her family and country. Recently, society introduced the term “residue woman” to trash single women who are deemed not wanted by men. The society praises married life and propagates romantic love as if being single cannot lead to a happy and enjoyable life. However, more and more people are defending the single life. More and more women are coming to realize that in a gender unequal society, what they face in a marriage is domestic violence, unequal claim to property, etc. One's luck in love and marriage is not the end game for happiness.