Romance became political in 1919, when Chinese students mounted demonstrations for democracy, science, and an end to arranged marriage, on behalf of what they called “the freedom of love.” It was “a code word for individual autonomy,” Haiyan Lee, a literature professor at Stanford, writes in “Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950.” Mao outlawed arranged marriages and concubines, and enshrined a woman’s right to divorce, but he left no room for desire.
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.
She was five feet three, with narrow shoulders, and when she talked about her business I got the feeling that she was talking about herself.
China had few bars or churches, and no co-ed softball, so pockets of society were left to improvise.
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.
Above all, Gong frames the search for love as a matter of fortitude.
In much of the world, marriage is in decline; the proportion of married American adults is now fifty-one per cent, the lowest ever recorded.
I wondered if the story was a metaphor—until I met her mother, Jiang Xiaoyuan.
“There was one especially tall building, the laboratory,” Jiang said.
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Despite her company’s name, Gong projects nothing more plainly than a conviction that fate is obsolete.