My best friend Sarah got a hot date on Saturday, it’s a cute European guy, and the two have arranged to go to Europe after the pandemic. I am thrilled for her because she hasn’t been seeing anyone for so long. Unexpectedly, all her happiness has gone because of a word from her mother.
Her mother said: what did I do wrong to raise a cheap girl like you?
She doesn’t understand: I like him, and I was very happy myself. What does this have to do with being a cheap girl? But being criticized in this way by her own mother, she still fell into a lingering sense of shame. Many of my girlfriends in China who have reached the “marriage age” often tell me that because they are not married yet, or the husband and wife they find are not tall, rich, and handsome enough; their parents will be under a lot of pressure. Even relatives and friends think that this is because their parents have not fulfilled their responsibilities as parents, and they have not urged them to marry sooner or find them a better candidate. It makes them feel that they are terrible. Parents have carefully cultivated themselves for so many years; why can’t they win honor to their parents?
Although I can now gradually understand the concerns of the older generations and admit that their concerns are not unreasonable in the current social situation in China. However, more and more experiences have made me realize that many factors cause the formation of this value gap: the generation gap between the ages and the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. It is by no means a simple judgment of right and wrong, and the girls in this huge gap always feel shamed.
Shame culture, as the name suggests, is a mentality that pays attention to integrity. People in this culture care very much about what others say, see, and talk about. Ancient cultural classics have repeatedly regarded “knowing shame” as the bottom line for the Chinese to behave in the world. There is a strong social tendency towards shame in Chinese moral concepts. If most people think this is wrong, then even if you believe it is right, you will probably echo it for your own “honesty”: this is wrong.
And in China, how do girls behave in a “right” and a “wrong” way?
I believe that many girls are the same as me. The education we have received since childhood is: girls must know how to respect and love themselves, they must not be bad girls. Self-esteem and self-love are three views that cannot be more righteous. However, what is meant by being a “cheap girl”? The definition of society often remains in the old society thousands of years ago.
In the mainstream public opinion of Chinese society, women are still subordinate to men, and to a certain extent, they are privatized and materialized. Women are commodities that need to remain chaste and ready to be sold, and their meaning of existence is to be “selected.” Suppose a man does not give a woman a name or material commitment. In that case, the girl’s contribution will often be regarded as a “loss” or “take advantage of”-because, in this transaction, they paid emotionally or physically but did not sell a reasonable price.
Has anyone asked the girl if she feels happy during this process?
No, because her feelings are not important. Traditional society assumes that girls are more responsible for a sexual relationship. How dare girls say that they will be happy in dating, kissing, and sexual behavior? What a shame! In the game of male and female communication, the public cares more about the reputation and integrity of females, including many girls themselves who demand such ethics. Just look at the girls scolding “whores and bitch” each other.
But the girls often feel ashamed and sorry. In the Western society, there seem to be very few concerns about this, boys can show their favor to the girls they like, and girls will not feel that they have done something wrong; in the same way, girls can also tell their feelings to the boys they like, which is also her freedom. On the premise of not harming others, which boy a girl is willing to date, kiss, or even have sex, it is entirely her own business. She respected her inner feelings and felt happy about herself. No one has the right to judge their behaviour from moral and public opinion perspectives.
This makes me seriously think about where this “feeling sorry” comes from? Where does this slut-shaming come from? Why do they have to apologize? Shouldn’t the apology come from those who occupy the commanding heights of public opinion and try to kidnap the feelings of others morally? What’s wrong with a girl who lives freely, optimistically, and bravely in her way?
We are more educated, more self-aware, and more willing to follow our true inner feelings. However, the mainstream values of this society have not kept up with the advancement of our thoughts. When we are brave and loyal to ourselves, the public is still evaluating us with the old social labels of “dishonorable” and “shamed”. So we questioned ourselves, we hesitated and struggled, and we began to think about whether we were really wrong or sorry.
It is what I said to my friend: Girl; you don’t have to say sorry to the world; you don’t have to say sorry to anyone. You are a person; you have the right to choose how to treat your feelings and body. You know how to please yourself and make your partner happy. And this is really none of anyone’s business.