Young and Restless in China

The first dynamic I noticed was the gendered differences in Chinese society. One of the first things I noticed was how most of the men the documentary followed aspired for greater economic success whereas the women featured were simply looking for fundamental rights. In the case of Zhanyan, she simply wanted to break tradition to marry someone she loved instead of being forced to marry someone by her family. Yang Haiyan  struggled to balance her family responsibilities as well as the hope to find her mother who was sold into human trafficking when Yang Haiyan was a child. In addition to her mother being sold, the people of her village saw her abduction as a disgrace. And even in the case of Miranda Hong who, despite being educated and successful, still battles the pressures of strict gender roles (questions about having children) and even moved to a city with less job opportunities due to family responsibility. I believe this portrays the strict gender roles in chinese society. These women aren’t too concerned with starting their own businesses or making enough money to move up within the class structure like many of the men featured do, but instead focused their efforts on basic things such as their family responsibilities and their individual freedom and happiness.

The second dynamic I found most interesting was how so many of the people featured in the documentary moved all over the country, from city to city, so frequently. This dynamic was more of a side note to the documentary but I never realized how much young people moved around in China. Some moved from Shanghai to Beijing, others from the countryside to the city, and others from abroad back to China.  Xu Weimin, for example, essentially lives between three cities between his work, his daughters, his parents, and his wife and son. The constant movement of young people speaks to the fast pace and frequent changes happening in modern day China. Young people are forced to chase opportunity – for some it was the promise of prosperity, for others migrant work was the only way to support themselves or their families. The problem with moving around chasing opportunities is that it put many of these young people at odds with their commitment to family responsibilities.

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5 Responses to “Young and Restless in China”

  1. skeene Says:

    I hadn’t noticed just how much movement there was in this documentary. I think it is really interesting how often people moved around in China. I wouldn’t consider that to be something people do here in America all that often (with a few exceptions, like the military and what not). I agree that it speaks to how fast pace it is in China and how quickly things are changing.

  2. Zoe Says:

    You make some really great points! Do you think it was a coincidence that there were no female entrepreneurs interviewed or that it was intentional to have such a distinct difference in the jobs of the women and the men? Surely there must be some women running/starting their own businesses in China.

  3. ssanfor3 Says:

    I had no paid particular attention to the differenced in gender roles throughout the film. After your analysis though I completely agree. The women and men portrayed in the film both focused on different things. Is there a particular reason that you think this is happening? I considered that even though the society is changing rapidly, the traditional gender roles are not evolving as rapidly. Therefore, the men are focused on making money and being involved in the new economy while women may be focusing more on gaining the same rights as these men. Regardless of the reason I enjoyed reading your analysis.

  4. dthomps Says:

    Your post brings up some great points about the documentary. The differences in views of men and women is interesting and shows the divide between what they want in order to be happy, as you pointed out. Your analysis of how the documentary portrays these gender roles adds to what is shown, explaining what the film showed in regard to the gender roles in China. I also like how you talked about the movement that was seen throughout the documentary. I didn’t think about it while watching, but it did seem like the people were constantly moving from place to place. I like that you connected that to the fast pace of Chinese society. Your analysis of the movement seen in the documentary really helped to possibly explain why the young people seen in the documentary moved around so much.

  5. bfines Says:

    I think your point about internal migration is interesting, especially given the huji system. This may have been less noticed, but the doctor mentioned that many will come from other areas to go to a good hospital–if any of these individuals were from another province, it would be a huge struggle to move from one area to another, and then to be rejected at the hospital and have to move on to another–it’s certainly tragic.

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