A girl who suffers from ‘princess syndrome’ lives life as if it were a fairy-tale: focusing only on pretty things, treating herself as the center of the universe, and obsessing about her looks. [eladies.sina.com.cn/Zhou Hua]
I would take it a little further by adding that these girl-women, or should that be women-girls, have no interest in cooking, cleaning or self-development outside of the obligatory BA degree.
I know it sounds a little harsh, but it’s true and I’m also talking about female Chinese friends of mine who discuss this with me as well as with each other.
Here’s another quote from the same article mentioned above;
These fake princesses believe they are so delicate that they are unable to lift heavy objects or bear any pressure. But are they really that ‘useless’?
They All Have ‘Princess Syndrome’
“Women always ask these questions like ‘Do you really love me?’ or ‘Who would you save if both your mother and I were drowning?’ They want love and romance, as well as material wealth. Do you think every man is Bill Gates?”
The post calls on women to stop being so spoilt and start appreciating what their men do for them. At the end of the post, the author lists ten habits that she thinks women should cultivate to improve their image and inherent qualities.
Coming from the West this attitude which, as I say is frequently discussed among both men and women here in China and just as frequently displayed, is a little hard to deal with. It seems so Western 1950’s (or maybe 1850’s) to me.
Let me give you some facts from my own experience. They’re anecdotal and therefore totally unscientific, but I’ve lived through them so I know them to be true.
Fact Number 1:
None of my Chinese female friends under 35 can either cook or clean. Nor are they interested in doing so. One of my friends even admitted that she just doesn’t see the dirt. As she was my flat-mate at the time and as I grew more and more frustrated at being the maid, I fully believed her.
The reasons for this handicap is their mothers. In every case the mothers fuss over their grown daughters and refuse to teach them how to keep a house and do more than boil vegetables in a pot. These, by the way, are the same mothers who urge their daughters to find a man and marry him. But what if the man is expecting a young women who keeps a home in the same way as his mother? Poor guy.
Fact Number 2:
I was momentarily lost for words when my female friend blythly stated that if she got pregnant straight away when she was married it would be okay. She reasoned that once she was married her body would belong to her husband and his family so whatever they wanted her to do was the priority.
As she tossed her pronouncement into the air, all of my words left me. I stared at her in shock trying to gather syllables, consonants and punctuation into some sort of sensible sentence so I could give her another point of view. But where to begin? With the whole point of women’s Lib? Emancipation? Suffragettes? The blinking Middle Ages?
How could anybody, male or female walk around in the 20th century thinking this was an okay methodology to hold onto?
Fact Number 3:
It’s okay to be brainless in the company of men.
I have another friend who is beautiful, intelligent, kind, illustrious, funny, a great conversationalist and good at problem solving, until she’s around a man. Then she swiftly reverts to The Little Princess inside a Grown Woman.
One night we were all chilling after work at a bar. I’ve seen her order food a hundred times, but on this occasion it proved impossible for her. She stared at the same menu she’s seen every other time we’ve been to the same bar and chose nothing. He took the menu and decided for her. I decided for myself.
Then he opened the conversation with funny stories from his field work as an architect in Myanmar. I found it fascinating and asked questions. My friend smiled vacantly into thin air and said nothing, just laughed at his jokes.
On the way home rain was a-plenty and taxis were none. Now, I’ve seen my friend stride into several lanes of traffic to hail a taxi when only women were around, but this particular evening as he faffed about (as men sometimes do) trying to decide the best course of action, she stood on the roadside, twirling her hair with her fingers, again staring into space.
Fact Number 4:
This will be my last fact because I think I’ve made my point.
My Friend, Ling, (a pseudonym for obvious reasons) has a first class degree in Business and consistently leaves her colleagues trailing in her dust as she regularly smashes her monthly sales targets.
She’s fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, is single, gorgeous and under significant pressure to get married from her mother and older female relatives for fear of becoming a left-over woman (single, childless women aged over 28 in China). She’s financially independent, has her own apartment and easily manages to carry her own shopping home.
She loves dancing, watching movies, travelling around China, days at the beach and ancient Chinese history. She’s a mature, intelligent, well rounded woman with a great career and a promising future.
Until a man comes into her space and just like so many others, suddenly her alter ego, The Little Princess, rises.
When there’s a man in our company Ling will not make a decision. With other females she will competently and knowledgably discuss politics, but when a man is talking her only contribution is a series of helpless giggles.
Honestly, is this stuff taught in Chinese schools?
Other Examples, I promise to be brief
I’ve seen women shouting and stamping their feet at their boyfriends in the street. Hapless men shouted at in public by red-faced, angry girlfriends. I felt sorry for them and wandered what they’d done wrong and why they put up with this behaviour.
I’ve heard young men complain about having to live in dirty apartments while their live-in girlfriends constantly call them, expecting them to drop everything to rush to her aid and help her carry her shopping bags.
I’ve winced at the annoying sulky, little girl voice many Chinese young women use when whining and complaining to their men.
In a nutshell, during almost four years in China I’ve heard and seen on the regular capable, intelligent and often professional grown women acting like they cannot think or do for themselves. This can be both when they are in a relationship, or sometimes, when they’re just around the opposite sex and not actually in a relationship.
Nature or Nurture?
Is it a cultural thing? Did their mothers treat their fathers in such manner before saying I do?
Surprisingly, I’ve also heard that Chinese men like this behavior. Apparently pandering to their baby-doll’s wants and needs enhances their masculinity.
Maybe some things about China aren’t meant to be figured out, not even judged, just simply noted.
My inner Grown Princess really wants to kick some sense into the inner Little Princess of my friends, but what can I do? Perhaps in this eternal role-play, the man gets to be a man by providing, protecting, nurturing and caring while the woman shows her feminine side by never maturing in front of her guy.
Will things ever change as China gallops swiftly towards the modern and the new?
Who knows, certainly not me.