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Love and sex of Chinese young generation still concerns to their parents

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Young people in China get a bad rap. Conventional wisdom says the boys are spoilt and fat, the girls flighty gold diggers — and the whole lot of them lazy, selfish and greedy. I have lived in China for seven years, and have met precious few mainland youths who fit those descriptions (except for maybe the plump part).

中国的年轻人名声很差。人们普遍认为,男孩太宠溺又肥胖,女孩则是轻浮的拜金女-而且不管男孩女孩都懒惰、自私、贪婪。我在中国生活了7年,但遇到过的符合这种表述的内地年轻人少得可怜(可能除了胖墩那部分)。

 

But don’t take it from me: I’m old enough to be their granny. Jemimah Steinfeld, on the other hand, has studied the Chinese twenty to thirtysomething in its own habitat: the bars, sex shops, online dating sites and matchmaking corners where the country’s complex, controversial and confusing youth culture is being made.

但是别轻信我的话:我都老得可以当他们的奶奶了。另一方面,耶米马•斯坦菲尔德(Jemimah Steinfeld)深入第一线,在近距离对中国二、三十岁的年轻人进行了研究,其中包括酒吧、性用品店、交友网站、相亲角,这些地方孕育着复杂、有争议、令人困惑的中国年轻人文化。

 

Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China is based on extensive field research on the male and female of the species by Steinfeld, a London-based journalist and "self-confessed sinophile, feminist and history junkie" who has lived and worked in Shanghai and Beijing.

《小皇帝和拜金女:现代中国的性和年轻人》(Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China)基于斯坦菲尔德对中国年轻男女的大量实地调研。斯坦菲尔德是一名驻伦敦的记者,曾在上海和北京生活、工作,是一名"自己承认的中国粉、女权主义者以及历史迷"。

 

This generation will end up running the nation — at which point who they are, how they think and how they were raised will really matter. And Steinfeld, too, thinks they are not as bad as advertised.

这一代人最终将统治这个国家-到那时,他们是谁、他们的思维习惯和成长环境将会很重要。而斯坦菲尔德也认为,中国的年轻人并不像传说中那么糟糕。

 

Nor are they easy to stereotype. China has as many people under the age of 30 as the US has people of any age, notes Steinfeld. Not surprisingly, they don’t all fit neatly into categories.

也不容易对他们进行分类。斯坦菲尔德表示,中国30岁以下的人口与美国的总人口相当。并不奇怪的是,他们并非都完美符合各个类别的定义。

 

This meticulously researched but highly readable book lets the people in question prove that themselves (I’m glad she asked these questions and not me, since sex in China is still a very sensitive issue). She allows a dozen or so young people to speak at length, from "leftover women" and "bare branches" (spinsters and bachelors), through the gamut of mistresses, gays, sexual rebels, Christians and even Communist party members who populate the younger generation. And the one thing she finds she can say about them with certainty is: they are very different from their parents.

这本书调查严谨但可读性极高,让调查对象自己倾述(我很高兴她问了这些问题而不用我来问,因为性在中国仍然是个非常敏感的话题)。她让十几个年轻人娓娓道来,其中既有"剩女"和"光棍"(大龄单身女人和单身汉),还有"二奶"、同性恋者、性反叛者、基督徒、甚至共产党员,这些人构成了年轻一代。她发现她能确定的一点是:这些年轻人与父辈截然不同。

 

In fact, she avers, China has one of the world’s biggest generation gaps. "It’s a fundamental difference between them and us," she writes. "While the West continues to change, it does so at a slower pace. It’s a gentle gradient rather than a steep slope and therefore the schism between old and young is much less pronounced."

事实上,她断言,中国有着世界最大的的代沟之一。"他们与我们有着根本上的区别,"她写道,"虽然西方也在持续改变,但步伐较慢。西方的改变是平缓而不是陡坡式的,因此年长者与年轻人之间的代沟远没那么明显。"

 

Many parents of her subjects grew up during the Cultural Revolution, and suffered famine as toddlers. Their grandparents may even remember when women had bound feet, she points out. But those born in the 1980s and 1990s — the balinghou and jiulinghou — are the first generation to grow up rich. And therein lies their biggest problem, Steinfeld writes: their parents and grandparents want to live through them, counting on their only offspring to make up for the privations of decades.

在她的研究对象中,很多人的父母幼年时曾经历过饥荒。而他们的祖父母也许还记得女人裹小脚的时代。出生在上世纪80和90年代的年轻人-80后和90后-是在富裕条件下长大的第一代人。斯坦菲尔德写道,这就带来了他们最大的问题:父母及祖父母把希望全寄托在他们身上,指望自己唯一的后代弥补数十年的艰辛。

 

Unlike in the west, many of these children are willing at least to make the effort. Steinfeld points out that, while 21st century China is unrecognisable from that of the 20th century, one cultural thread remains: children’s powerful duty of filial piety. And duty number one is to marry and bear offspring.

与西方不同,这些孩子中有很多人至少愿意付出努力。斯坦菲尔德表示,尽管21世纪的中国与20世纪已经不可同日而语,但一条文化脉络依然存在:子女孝敬长辈的重大责任。而第一要务就是结婚生子。

Love and sex today are still very much Mum and Dad’s business. Steinfeld even profiles one rake who takes Mummy along on dates in his Porsche.

如今,子女的爱情和性生活在很大程度上仍然是爸妈要操心的事。斯坦菲尔德甚至描述了一个浪子开着保时捷带上老妈去约会的事。

 

But there's a statistical problem. A preference for boys, exacerbated by the one-child policy, will leave China with an estimated 20m more men under 30 than women by 2020, according to government research.And, since the existing men like to marry beneath them, that leaves "alpha women and beta men" without partners. Perhaps as a result, extramarital sex is on the increase. Steinfeld says the percentage of urbanites who have premarital sex — a big taboo before China opened up to the west a generation ago, and even since — quadrupled between 1989 and 2010 to 60 per cent. Yet 80 per cent of men still say they want to marry a virgin. Good luck with that.

但是,这里存在一个统计学问题。政府研究显示,独生子女政策加剧的重男轻女倾向意味着,到2020年中国30岁以下的男性估计会比女性多出2000万。而且,由于男性喜欢与不如自己的女性结婚,这导致"A档女人和B档男人"找不到伴侣。也许是因为这一点,婚外性行为呈上升趋势。斯坦菲尔德 称,2010年,有过婚前性行为(在一代人之前,即中国改革开放前,甚至是开放以来,这都是一大禁忌)的城市人口比例达到60%,是1989年的四倍。不 过,竟有80%的男性仍然称,他们希望娶一个处女。祝他们好运吧。

 

So spare a thought for China’s poor conflicted young people: caught between village and skyscraper, between one millennium and the next. They are sexual adventurers who still live at home with Mummy. They may be gay but still plan to marry to keep up appearances. And increasingly large numbers have no interest in bearing children but must do so to satisfy Granny. And I thought growing up in the 1960s was difficult.

所以,想想中国那些可怜而又矛盾的年轻人吧:他们被夹在乡村和摩天大楼之间,一个千年和下一个千年之间。他们进行着性的探索,却仍然与老妈住在一起。他们也许是同性恋,却仍计划结婚来顾全面子。越来越多的年轻人对生儿育女不感兴趣,但又必须生个孩子让爸妈满意。我原本还以为在上世纪60年代长大很艰难呢。

2016-06-24

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