We had a Chinese culture presentation last week for our culture class that was phenomenal. I really enjoyed it. It touched on so many levels and I was so sad when it was over. This blog is a mixture of things I found fascinating from the lecture and a couple things that I have noticed myself.

As is common knowledge that most people are aware of, China holds a 1 child policy. What I didn't know were some of the details of how they encourage this and that there are actually exeptions to that rule. One exception is if you have twins, triplets, quadruplets etc, you may keep all of your children. It's considered a lucky occurence. Also, if they live in an exceptionally rural area, they may have a second child but they have to wait 6 years between the first and the second child. Ethnic minorities with extremely small populations may have as many children as they desire with no restrictions.

I also found interesting that part of "family planning" is making a law that females legally cannot marry until they are 23 (males can marry at 21), and they are not allowed to have children until they are 25 (23 for males). Further, if one of the married couple came from a single child home, the couple is allowed to have 2 children. Interesting, huh?

Our teacher really stressed to us that the culture is changing to favor women and that there is a common understanding now that it is not better to have a boy than a girl and that children no longer have to take care of their parents. He said that these rules are making conditions healthier for women and children. I don't really buy it completely. Children definitely still have pressure to take care of their parents, but I think the parts about not feeling pressured to give birth to a boy and having healthier conditions for women and children is probably becoming accurate.

It is really sad how differently women are treated here though. From a completely feminist perspective, there are some problems. Women are not allowed to drink unless they are with family or friends, while men can drink whenever they want. I don't drink, but the concept behind that seems wrong. Women don't go places unaccompanied. The list goes on and on. I understand that the purpose is to try to keep women safe, but the equality is really not there. Women are so afraid all the time of so many things. It's strange being a female here because there is always someone trying to protect me.

But in strong contrast, women do not take their husbands last names here. They used to, but not anymore. "Ladies first" is not a common theme here, nor is holding doors for ladies or taking their coat.

Some other interesting things are that they are so afraid to get tan around here. They think that the paler their skin is, the more beautiful they are. They wear long sleeves all year around, hats to cover their faces, use parasols, and even wear gloves to keep from tanning when they are riding their bicycles (it looks like they have ovenmits attached to their bicycles). It is such a contrast to American culture where we go to tanning beds and at beaches we intentionally try to get tan.

Another thing that is difficult to get used to and I am sure I am doing it very wrong because we are constantly getting compliments here, is they don't really use please and thank you here. It can be an insult to say thank you and please, especially to a family member or someone offering a service, because it is their duty to take care of you anyway so they feel alienated when you say these things. I suppose because it makes things more formal?

They also really stressed that in China, actions are more important than words. They don't say "I love you" to their children a lot, because they show it in their affection and actions. Their love language, per say, is acts of service, gift giving, and physical touch. You can ask Chinese people literally anything here, though. Some Chinese women are being influenced by Western culture and won't say their age though, even though age is strongly respected here. It was funny because when they were explaining how much the Chinese respect older people, they also stated that "American's don't respect their elders". We all laughed because we know that when Chinese people state the obvious to them, it isn't meant to be an insult. Also, we understood that what they meant by that is that in America, young people don't accept that older people know better than we do and we seldom accept their wisdom - young people learn their lessons for themselves instead of from their elders.

A couple things that I have personally noticed about Chinese Culture: Girls walk together and boys walk together. They don't intermingle unless they are dating, in which case they are extremely affectionate. They are always holding hands (but in so many different ways that you don't see in America. I think I posted some pictures of my friends mimicking the different ways of hand-holding we have seen), or walking arm in arm or side-hug walking. They sit on park benches together and cuddle and kiss and sit in awkward looking positions that in America, very few people would be seen sitting with someone like that.

The interesting thing about that though, is even though it seems to be everywhere, we spoke with a Chinese student about it who told us that those people are not the norm, and those girls are not "nice girls" and people say things about them. It is an extremely conservative culture and she said most people are very modest.

Girls are also very affectionate with each other walk arm in arm or hold hands with each other. It is interesting because they seem to get weirded out if you try to hug them, but they want to hold your arm and your hand. Also, they have been told that Americans really like their personal space and that it is a 6 feet circumference around us. They keep asking us if that is true and we adamantly assure them that it is not. We like our personal space and in our culture we don't always hang all over each other, but six feet is completely unnecessary. We are much warmer than that.

They are extremely trendy and look adorable and fashionable every day (they never wear big T-shirts like we do in America. Literally everything is cute), but everything is extremely modest. Also almost all of their shoes are platform or high heels, and they walk for miles every day in them. But they don't want to look "too sexy", because they are afraid they won't look like a "nice girl". They own tank tops that they layer with, but they will not wear JUST a tank top, regardless of how hot it is because they are so concerned about it being unsafe because they will look "too sexy", which I have decided they think means provocative.

Anyway, it is all very interesting. I am enjoying it!