Title

Are You the One? China’s TV Dating Shows and the Sheng Nü’s Predicament

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 5-14-2014

Publication Source

Feminist Media Studies

Volume

15

Issue

3

DOI

10.1080/14680777.2014.913648

Publisher

Routledge

Place of Publication

London, UK

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

This study looks into TV dating shows in post-millennial China. These widespread shows, exemplified by Fei Cheng Wu Rao (translated, by both local and global media, as If You Are the One), open up an ongoing social forum, which, to varying extents, enables self-articulations and renegotiations of class and gender identities and gives voice to selected female participants of the
media. Through the lens of critical discourse analysis, the paper focuses on analyzing the stage arrangements and hidden rules of Fei Cheng Wu Rao, female participants’ self-introductions, both male and female participants’ depictions of their “ideal” spouse, and the remarks of the host and
the two expert commentators. The study argues that these dating shows play upon the predicament of Chinese single women, especially those labeled as “sheng nu¨ ” (“leftover women”), who strive for upward social mobility, yet are constrained within the new gender mandate of a market economy. Stigmatizing single womanhood, the dating shows also grant a glimpse of the varied ways the media and women participants play a complicit role in reducing women’s
potential to resist new forms of male privilege in post-socialist China.

Keywords

TV dating shows; Chinese sheng nu¨ (leftover women); single womanhood; postsocialist femininity; post-socialist masculinity; critical discourse analysis

Disciplines

Communication