Great Onelies in Real Time: Wang GuiYing January 13, 2009Posted by Onely in As If!, Great Onelies in Real Time, Heteronormativity.
Tags: China, ChongQing Commercial Times, Dr. Pam Spurr, feminism, GuiZhou, marriage mythology, marrying when older, Richard Spears, single and happy, the daily mail, Wang GuiYing
A Chinese woman has decided to become unsingle after 107 years of Oneliness.
She didn’t marry because she was afraid of marriage. When we are tempted to glorify the long, historic tradition of man-woman matrimony and disparage those of us who, for whatever reasons, are not participating in it, let’s also take a moment to listen to Wang Gui Ying’s story (Reuters cites the ChongQing Commercial Times):
Born in southern Guizhou province the child of a salt merchant, Wang grew up watching her uncles and other men scold and beat their wives and often found her aunt crying in the woodshed after an attack, the paper said.
“All the married people around there lived like that. Getting married was too frightening,” she said of an era when Chinese women had few rights and low social standing.
For me, Wang Guiying makes an interesting contrast to the many people nowadays (at least in the west) who marry because they are afraid of being single (I know, I know, not everyone–but lots!). Wang kept the family farm going until she was 74. Now that she’s finally beginning to slow down, she’s worried about being a burden to her nieces and nephews.
I guess she feels that getting married to another centenarian will somehow remedy the situation, logistically and socially. I imagine that her future husband (whoever he may be) will also receive care from someone younger, perhaps his nieces and nephews–and by extension, so will she.
So *assuming* that her nieces and nephews didn’t mind caring for her in the first place: what’s the difference between her being cared for by her nieces and nephews as a single person, and her being cared for as a married person, by his nieces and nephews? Does the marriage give her a feeling of entitlement or security that she doesn’t have as a single person? Seems like that to me. And I feel regretful that a woman so badass that she survived foot-binding-era China as a singleton, now has to feel as if she’s not worth care unless she’s bound to a man.
Of course I get all this from a palm-sized, translated news article, so who knows what’s really going on with Wang? Except that she just got a Great Onely award! Yay!
Unfortunately, at the same time that we bestow the Great Onely Award to Wang, we also have to bestow our First Ever Great Heteronormahole Award to Richard Shears. He was one of eight jillion journalists to rehash the ChongQing Commercial Times story about Wang. In his article, Shears adds nothing new to the story, substance-wise. He does, however, commit two instances of singlism in less than one hundred words. First, the title of his piece:
The 107-year-old virgin who was afraid to marry starts her search for Mr Right
I know this is supposed to be a clever play on the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin. And yes, 20th century rural China might not have been a hotbed of sexual opportunity for Wang, but we’ve got some news for you, Richard (or it is Dick?), and you might want to sit down for it: an unmarried woman is not necessarily a virgin. Tying marriage to virginity disparages women’s rights to determine what they do with their bodies.
I was willing to let Spears get away with this–I’ve been guilty of poorly chosen witticisms in my own writing–but then he sealed his Heteronormahole status with:
. . . the hunt is on through old people’s homes in the Chinese city of Chongqin for a suitable groom for the spritely spinster.
Oh, no, he didn’t! Yes, Copious Readers, you know it: he spelled Chongqing wrong!
Qin is an entirely different character from Qing.
Copious Readership, do you agree with our nominations?
P.S. Is it a coincidence that Spears’ article appears in The Daily Mail, the same venue that published Super Singlist Pam Spurr’s rant on how single women who say they are happy are liars? What’s with The Daily Mail? Is it kind of trashy? Should I start ignoring articles I see there?