Maybe the teddy bears in the cars of some Shanghainese men is part of what gives them the reputation of being a bit girlie. Maybe it is the over-use of the word “lovely” when speaking English. Who knows exactly what it is, but the reputation exists. Unsurprisingly, Huang Qing, the Shanghainese writer of the article, questions the results of a survey which reinforced the image of effeminate Shanghainese men in the mind-sets of their countrymen in different regions:
Shanghai men are often ridiculed by outsiders as not being “manly” these days. This is how my colleague’s husband reacted to a newspaper report that claimed 73 per cent of Shanghai’s male white-collar workers are willing to be stay-at-home husbands.
Without causing too much surprise, Huang finds many “encouraging” aspects of this report, and with no small amount of bias and prejudice, he muses: “Despite the not-so-optimistic reality, I do believe Shanghai men, probably more than men from anywhere else in this country, care more about their families.”
Huang also makes the equally ridiculous claim that as Yao Ming and Liu Xiang grew up in Shanghai, it means that Shanghainese men must be masculine and strong too:
How about Yao Ming? The giant man famous in today’s basketball world is from Shanghai. How about Liu Xiang? The man who brought China the 110-metre-hurdles gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games is also from Shanghai. If sports is any yardstick to measure the masculine, perhaps these two are the best images of Chinese men. The same social and cultural environment that has nurtured Yao and Liu has nurtured Shanghai men.
And so another chapter in the incessant “which province is best in China and why” is opened …
At the end of the article, after crying “[l]eaving gender discrimination aside, why single out Shanghai men? There are abundant men who are good at cooking in other regions, too”, Huang concludes with:
But Chinese are region-conscious and the deep-rooted local identity often leads blindly to regional superior complex … The issue of geographical discrimination may take a long time to disappear unless we make extra efforts to squarely face it.
However he has not been able to make such an effort himself, particularly when blithely, vaguely, and bizarrely claiming that Shanghainese men “care more about their families” than do men in other regions.
If you live in a Shanghainese household, you won’t have to wait long before you hear that women from other provinces like coming to Shanghai as Shanghainese men “make good husbands” — in no small part due to their willingness to allow the women sole responsibility of the family’s finances.
Do our un-biased and attractive readers think the stereotype of Shanghainese men is a fair one?