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Arranged marriages were banned in 1950, but twenty years later, when the anthropologist Yan Yunxiang moved to a village in China’s northeast, local women had so little say regarding whom they married that they sobbed when they left home on their wedding day.
Elders continued to oversee the choice of spouses until a wave of modernization swept across the country in the early eighties.
Your customers, she told them, will be virtually indistinguishable from yourselves: strivers, alone in the city, separated from love by “three towering mountains”—no money, no time, and no connections.
I met Gong six years ago, after she received a master’s degree in journalism and entered the dating business.
1 matchmaker,” even though her business is a rebuke to the essence of matchmaking.
Despite her company’s name, Gong projects nothing more plainly than a conviction that fate is obsolete.
Women now had a voice in the selection of their mates, and, in one case, a bride who was marrying for love confided to Yan that she was too happy to sob; she had to rub hot pepper on her handkerchief in order to summon the tears that guests expected when a bride leaves home—the misery that would give face to her parents.
But nobody seemed to know how to make the most of that freedom.
Dating that did not lead to the altar was “hooliganism,” he said, and under his system sexual privacy was nonexistent; local Party cadres kept track of household condom distribution.
And, unlike others who glimpsed the potential of the Internet in China, she didn’t speak fluent English. She’d grown up on a farm, and her voice trembled before crowds.