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Factory towns organized “friend-making clubs” for assembly-line workers; Beijing traffic radio, 103.9, set aside a half hour on Sundays for taxi-drivers to advertise themselves.
But those practices merely reinforced existing barriers, and for vast numbers of people the collision of love, choice, and money was a bewildering new problem.
China had few bars or churches, and no co-ed softball, so pockets of society were left to improvise.
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.
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.
If your mother-in-law sees you as “nothing but a baby-maker” and your husband won’t help, she told one new wife, forget the husband, “get some courage, and get out of that family.” In the case of a newly rich couple with the husband sleeping around, she applauded the wife for not becoming a “blubbering, feeble, pitiful creature,” and, instead, making him sign a contract that will cost him all his assets if he cheats again.
Above all, Gong frames the search for love as a matter of fortitude.