by Saskia Greve

It’s springtime and the whole nature is beginning to awake. Not only animals started to primp for the other sex, but also the humans. You can feel the love in the air and even see many young couples enjoying the intimate togetherness. But if we think about our western cliché towards the Chinese people being shy and uptight in things like flirting or love with all its aspects, how did that work?

First of all, this is really a cliché regarding the young generation. Once they found each other through (mostly) WeChat, friends, parents, work or university, they aren’t that uptight like western people think. They are the same like we. Tenderness and kisses are seen everywhere: in the subway, in the bus and for the students of the Fudan University especially on the lawn right infront of the Guanghua Towers.

But some stereotypes like the Chinese young men being the protector and the women being the princess are fulfilled. You can often see embraced girls guarded by their partners passing by a mass of people in the metro station. Or – for some people’s amusement – “hydrophobic” pink dressed girls screaming about every single wave at the beach and jumping behind the man by their side with a giggling sound. And it’s true, the man has to pay the bill in the restaurant or sometimes even for the shopping. In simple term the classic distribution of rules. But then I recognized many young men carrying the handbags or shopping bags of their girlfriend. For some of us Austrian girls these men – many of them are slender – appear like some kind of servants when they run after their girl and her friends. At home, our men wouldn’t carry around our handbags. And dare the Chinese man does something wrong! The Chinese girls can also show their claws hidden behind their sweet and girly appearance. But the most celebrating act of being a couple in China is the famous “Partner Look” which you can buy in Chinese clothes markets. Watching this franticly “We belong together” you ask yourself immediately “Did she force him to wear these colorful pants?”. Being instructed by a Chinese man, both of them want to wear this symbol of merging identification, this “We cannot live without each other”. In Austria or Germany the people would smile pityingly at such a couple – especially at the guy.

After all these experiences I asked myself the question if there is any empowerment of women in China without being such a feministic person and I caught myself wishing the emancipation of the women wouldn’t implicate the disempowerment of the men. Really, I don’t need “Partner Look” or the man always paying the bill, but sometimes it can be nice to have a protector, a gentleman by my side.