Economist receives heated backlash for wife-sharing proposal to address generation of lonely men
SHARING is caring.
That’s the message from Chinese economist Xie Zuoshi, who has proposed the idea of wife-sharing for China’s new generation of lonely bachelors.
The men are known as guanggun, meaning bare branches, and by the year 2020, China is expected to have 30 million of them unable to find a partner.
The economics professor at the Zhejing University of Finance and Economics has suggested a system of one-sided polyamory, or as TheNew York Timesput it “one wife, many husbands”, to address the growing social problem.
The Asian superpower has become the world’s biggest lonely hearts club due to the country’s one-child policy, coupled with a patriarchal society that leads parents to favour the birth of a son. Sex-selective abortions are illegal in the country but are nonetheless a widespread practice. The result is a gender imbalance that amounts to about 117 men to every 100 women.
Figures from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics show that, as of the end of 2014, the Chinese mainland held 33.76 million more males than females.
The unprecedented situation needs a solution, and this economist thinks he has one.
On his blog, which has 2.6 million followers, he outlined his idea, which he stressed is purely an economic argument. Supply and demand is the bedrock of economics, and there is an oversupply of Chinese men, he wrote in his essay entitled “30 million bachelors is a groundless fear”.
According to Professor Xie, wealthy men will be able to afford the “high price” of women as their value increases, while poorer men will miss out on having a partner.
“What about the low-income men? One way is for several men to band together to find a wife,” he wrote.
He believes some rural families are already adopting the idea. “This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky idea of mine. In some remote and poor areas there are cases where brothers jointly marry one wife, and they can live happily and harmoniously,” he wrote.
He worries that the flow-on effects of a generation of lonely men will cause problems as they will not have any offspring to support them in their older age, something that is mandated by Chinese law. The relationship is considered so fundamental that parents are able to sue their children for not visiting enough.
Likewise, the cultural importance placed on finding a life partner is extremely overt in Chinese culture. A popular dating game show called If Not Sincere Then Do Not Disturb (known as If You Are the One in Australia) allows a panel of 24 women to choose if they want to date a male contestant. It is the highest rated show on its network.
Contestants on the hugely popular dating game show, which airs Saturday and Sunday nights in China.Source:Facebook
As it is, many lonesome Chinese men are looking elsewhere for a wife, mainly in the neighbouring countries of Vietnam and Myanmar. However such a scenario has led to greater concerns over human trafficking and online dating scams.
But it was the novel suggestion of wife-sharing that was picked up by media outlets around the country.
Despite his unemotional approach to the matter, his essay was widely met with derision from the public as countless people criticised it online for being illegal and immoral.
On China’s version of Twitter, one user named Superelfjunior chastised Prof Xie writing: “If women are just only meant for producing heirs and have to mate with many men just to solve the population growth issue, how does this make us any different from animals?”
“Is this a human being speaking?” another user wrote of the essay.
A project manager for a woman’s rights group in the country, Jing Xiong, told the BBC that the idea was “extremely ridiculous”.
“Prof Xie’s suggestion ignores the wishes and rights of women, and casts women as tools used to satisfy men’s needs for sex, marriage and reproduction … this suggestion is basically sexual discrimination,” she said.
However Prof Xie rejects the notion and believes legality is beside the point and the moral alternative is far worse.
In a follow-up blog post, he detailed the large volume of disparaging comments he received in the wake of his post going viral, with countless people also calling his university to “abuse” him.
He chastised his critics and said the social cost of sexually disenfranchised men could be far worse. He even suggested it would lead to greater instances of rape in Chinese society.
“You are in favour of a couple made up of one man, one woman. But your morality will lead to 30 million guanggun with no hope of finding a wife. Is that your so-called morality?” he wrote.
“(If we) keep to the one-husband-one-wife social contract, and let 30 million bachelors have no women and no hope, they hate society, then we would have a serious social problem.”
Battles over the definition of marriage is a political issue that transcends country and culture right now. But for China, it may be about to get just a little bit more complicated.