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This Chinese Singer Dared to Publicly Propose to Her Boyfriend

Screen capture from youtube. Chinese female singer, Zhang Liangying proposed marriage to his boyfriend during her concert on July 4.

Screen capture from YouTube. Chinese female singer, Zhang Liangying proposed marriage to his boyfriend during her concert on July 4.

The Chinese web was caught by surprise with 30 year-old singer Zhang Liangying's public marriage proposal to her boyfriend Feng Ke, an entertainment firm CEO, at a concert in Changsha on July 4.

It is still uncommon for women in China to take the initiative in relationships. Men are usually the first to ask women out, and they are the first to propose. And it isn't usual for women to openly talk about being thirty and single. When women are unmarried and in their 30s, they can derogatorily be called “left-over women” or shengnü in Chinese.

But gender roles aren't as fixed as the used to be in China. And Zhang's very public proposal, where she mentions her age, shows this transformation.

With tears in her eyes, she said emotionally at the end of the concert:

我想说从我的人生十八岁到三十岁,我没有在等,因为一直有一个人陪着我。[…]我已经三十岁了,我想今天刚好在长沙,我想做一件我二十岁就想做的事情,我今天想清楚了,我不想再一个人过了,过去十年,你们陪伴着我,这个人也陪伴着我,我现在想好了,若你希望娶我,现在请走到台上。

I want to say, between the last years 18-30 of my life, I hadn't been waiting, because someone has always been there for me. […] I am 30 now, today I am in Changsha again. I want to do something I wanted to do when I was 20. I have considered throughout, I don't want to be single. In the past 10 years, you fans have accompanied me, and this person has accompanied me. I have made up my mind, if you want to marry me now, just come to the stage.

Her boyfriend then joined her on stage and gave her a tight hug and a long kiss. Zhang’s fans bursted into cheers.

Afterwards, many people debated whether it is acceptable for women to take initiative in relationships. In the opinion page of a government party affiliated newspaper The Beijing News, an article by Hou Hongbin posed a question to critics who accused Zhang of taking advantage and putting her wealthy boyfriend on the spot. The article “Are women proposing marriage really taking advantage of men? supported Zhang’s move:

我知道,有著名的情感专家一直在声称:女人就不能主动,主动就低人一等,不值钱了,以后就注定被抛弃。基于同样逻辑的理论还有,女人不能比男人有钱,不能比男人学历高,不能比男人聪明——如果是,那请你假装不如男人,否则他们就会有压力,就会自卑,就会厌恶你。

最开始,我以为是张靓颖的尴尬,现在看来,却变成了张靓颖的荣光。女性努力奋斗多年,终于成了女神,不就是为了可以主动过上自己想要的生活,在自己高兴的时候,主动挑选可以共进退的事业和人生伴侣吗?

I know that some famous affection experts have been claiming [in relationship with men] women should not take initiative, otherwise women will become worthless, and doomed to be abandoned by men. The same logic applies to the saying that compared with men, women should not be richer, have higher education degrees, or be smarter. Women should pretend to be lesser than men, otherwise men would have pressure, feel low self-worth and hate women.

Initially, I thought Zhang Liangying’s act may have embarrassed herself. But now, it makes her shine. Women struggled for many years and finally become goddesses [stars]. Don't these women just want to have the life that they have been pursuing? Don't they just want to select careers and lifelong companions that can advance and retreat altogether?

Some critics have opposing stance. In this comment on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, a concerned user pointed out the risk of women's marriage proposal:

以我活了13年的经验来看,男人想娶你,一定会主动求婚或者跟你商量婚期,绝对不需要你明示暗示甚至逼迫。身边女性朋友们逼婚的下场不是分手就是成功但一直在家地位偏低。年轻姑娘们请一定看看我的话。也许有例外,但是不多。

In my 13-year life experience, if a man wants to marry you, he must propose marriage to you or talk with you about the wedding day. It is totally unnecessary for a woman to clearly indicate or hint to a man. My female friends, who had forced their boyfriends into marriage, resulted in either splitting-up or success, but this woman [who had succeed in proposing marriage] has low rank in the family. Young girls, please pay attention to my words. Some may succeed in proposing marriage, but few do.

No house, no marriage

In the 1960s, the proof of men's readiness to get married was to prepare for the “three indispensable things” or sandajian (三大件) – a watch, a bicycle and a radio. As China’s economy has been speeding up in recent decades, now, sandajian has become a house, a car and bulk of money.

“No house, no marriage” has become the cardinal advice for Chinese men. According to a survey published by a China’s dating website in 2014, about 71.8% of women thought they are worthy of being married to men who have houses. But the high price of real estate is plaguing most single men in China. For many Chinese men without love nests, a dating relationship is unlikely to lead to marriage.

Given these circumstances, this article encourages women to be more courageous in proposing marriage:

其实,许多男人之所以迟迟不提结婚,不是排斥婚姻,而是在顾虑自己不那么雄厚的实力能否给女人幸福。女人则应该在这个时候及时而准确地“出击”,捅破这层窗户纸,给男人结婚的信心。

Actually, the reason — men do not want to talk about marriage with women — is not because they oppose marriage, but they are worried whether they have the wealth to give women happiness. At this point, women should actively “propose marriage.” By poking a hole in a paper window, women give men confidence [they need to pursue] marriage.

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