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China’s new phenomenon: Fake boyfriends

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Chinese are increasingly hiring a fake boyfriend to fend off relatives.

By: Roshni Kapur
Chinese who face pressure to find a boyfriend or get married can now rent a fake boyfriend online.
Taobao, China’s largest online marketplace, allows single women to hire a fake companion to stave off marriage pressure from their parents and relatives especially during the New Year.
The online website is a haven for single women to search for a temporary boyfriend where men place advertisements offering companionship services ranging from 1,000 yuan (US$152) to 10,000 yuan (US$1,526) a day. The men even offer romantic services such as and holding, going to the cinema together and cuddle.
One advert for Greater China Royal Sovereign boyfriend rental centre on Taobao offers a range of men including ‘American boyfriend, Canadian boyfriend and domineering boyfriend Jiangsu’. The advertisement reads: ‘New Year back home, no longer afraid of gossip, regardless of your eight aunts. Why are you still hesitating? Hurry over to order a fit for your boyfriend now.’
The pressure to find a boyfriend reaches a boiling point during the New Year.
This may explain why many agency managers have noticed a surge in bookings during this season when working women return home for family reunions. A spokesman from Rent-a-Gent was quoted in an online article on The New Paper that he has noticed “three times more interest” in hiring male companions compared to 2015.
He added that although most clients hire companions to spend the holidays with, they also have clients who “specifically use our service to get their families to stop asking them about their boyfriend and marriage plans”.
Many unmarried women in China face an inquisition about their single status from their parents and extended family as they reach their late twenties. Unmarried women above the age of 27 are derogatorily labelled as “sheng nu” or “leftover woman”.
The stigma of not getting married at a culturally acceptable age is deeply entrenched in China.
However, a vast number of female working professionals especially those from the urban areas are not settling before the age of 27. They are career oriented, financially independent and moving up the corporate ladder. Their prime focus is on professional development rather than tying the knot and assuming matrimonial responsibilities.
According to Leta Hong Fincher, author of “Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China”, unmarried Chinese women are at “a real turning point” where many are starting to embrace singlehood and fight against the stigma.
She was quoted in an online article on the BBC: “These are young women with strength and confidence, who are being specifically targeted by the state’s deliberate campaign to pressure [them] into marrying.”
“Chinese women today are more educated than ever before and they are increasingly resisting marriage.”
As many urban women climb the work ladder, the propensity to tie the knot before 27 seems smaller and many more may turn to online services to rent a fake boyfriend.

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