Since earlier this month, an article titled “Chinese Men Don’t Match Chinese Women” has been making its rounds on the Web.
The article pulls no punches in pointing out most women on the street look far more presentable than men and unloads a list of the complaints Chinese women have about their suitors.
It didn’t take long for foreign women to weigh in with their own comments.
Early on in her book Research on Chinese Men, Zhang Jiehai, a doctor of psychology at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, attempted to explain why Chinese men make such a terrible impression on women.
Her interviewees were asked to be blunt about the most unbearable traits of Chinese men. Most cited appearance problems, such as not dressing properly, not being handsome, smart and strong, and personality defects.
While some of these may be debatable: untidiness is not.
Ines, a foreign resident in Shanghai, lamented that all the Chinese men she met smelled like they hadn’t showered in more than a month and showed up for dates with filthy clothes and greasy hair. “An intern at my company looks well educated and smart, but he spits on the ground. That’s awful. A man should be at least clean. It’s basic respect,” she said.
Little has changed about the unwillingness of Chinese men to look or act better.
Hou Hongbin, a female media persona, went as far as to publish an article analyzing “why Chinese men are so ugly.” Hou blamed it on their unwillingness to dress themselves or take basic care of their bodies.
Her assentation seems to be upheld by recent research by the Guangzhou Daily, which found that 86 percent of male respondents spent less than 20 percent of their salary on clothing or skin care products.
If untidiness wasn’t enough, the lack of confidence among Chinese men has reached epidemic proportions.
More than 21 percent of foreign women polled said that it’s not that they are unwilling to date Chinese men: it’s that Chinese men aren’t even brave enough to look them in the eye. One woman from the UK broke up with her boyfriend saying that he had no interest in her beyond showing off that he had a girlfriend with blonde hair.
Many foreign women also said Chinese men have severe self-esteem problems that prevent them from apologizing even when they are wrong.
The facts, while negative and hard to debate, stem from Chinese cultural definitions of social and familial roles, said Ma Jianwen, president of the Aijia Institute of Psychological Studies.
“Chinese men are supposed to earn money and support the family. Most wish they had 25 hours a day to work. How can they have time to dress themselves?” Ma said. He said Chinese men also prefer to distinguish themselves with career success rather than personal appearance.
That obsession with success swallows most of their time. Research by the China International Fitness Conference found that the main reason Chinese men never go to the gym is because they don’t have the time.
Ma also said that Chinese men are often preoccupied with their parents because, in Chinese tradition, boys inherit the family.
Many foreign women have tried to brainstorm ways to reinvent the image of the Chinese man. While the presentation of Chinese men in Hollywood is almost uniformly atrocious, China has made precious few films featuring positive male leads that found success abroad.
But for all the negativity, Chinese men must have redeeming qualities: there are plenty of foreign women who are happily married to Chinese husbands.
Jenna, a teacher at an international school in Beijing, has few complaints about her marriage to Hu Zixi. She said she appreciates her husband’s honesty and how he loves both their parents. He is willing to pitch in on housework and rarely drinks to excess, she said.
“While I’ll admit he lacks a sense of humor and romance, his being conservative is not all bad. I feel warm, safe and satisfied,” she said.