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  • Gordon Dumoulin

The rise of woman power in China, "little fresh meat 小鲜肉" | DIFFERENT CHINA (ep 2)

The rise of woman power in China
"little fresh meat 小鲜肉"

As in practically all over the world, women have always been more used as an object of appreciation in comparison to men. The “little fresh meat” term in China has grown from an internet buzz slang to immense popularity on TV, social media and even common dialogues (especially between women) in recent years.

“little fresh meat” is an expressive example of the strongly growing power of women and girls in China. Its direct expression is the women’s desire and appreciation for young, good-looking men but “little fresh meat” relates to so much more within the immense social developments in today’s Chinese society. Until the recent past, women’s needs and developments were following the ancient traditions of the female roles within family and marriage. The role and impact of women in society and business has drastically changed during the past decade, increasing their power, strength and possibilities in practically each segment of society.

The popularity of “little fresh meat” is even further empowered by the ratio of many more men and much fewer women in China at the ages between 20-40 years old. Women can be much more selective in life while men have to fight much more to fulfill their needs in marriage and relations.

While women’s roles in society were traditional until recently, women in China are now discovering and recognizing their options of lifestyle, personal development, self-gratification and sexual needs. Women choose new walks of life instead of the traditionally expected women’s role in society. Whether starting their own business, experiencing life through travels or taking their ample time and experience to finally select a suitable partner for marriage instead of being proposed, women are increasing their power in society.

Expressing their “appetite” for a handsome, vital guy;  “little fresh meat” is also used by women for men with power, gentleness, respect and decisiveness. These characteristics increase today’s Chinese women’s “appetite” for men. The values of protection and personal “family” leadership by men within marriages and relations seem to go more and more to the background as favorable considerations for a relation. Chinese women are looking for equal partnerships in which they are able to have their own personal developments, respect and standing, and being able to fulfill their social, personal and physical needs.

A great example of foreign “little fresh meat” status is French president Emmanuel Macron who experienced a period of cult status in China when he won the elections earlier this year. Macron created an immense hype on Chinese social media as “little fresh meat”, naturally for his looks, exposure and power but also for the fact that he married a lady, 24 years his senior (calling it true, pure love). It also created fierce debates on social and official media between traditions and current social developments.

China is not China when this social development would not be used for commerce and making money. Luxury, female-oriented products such as cosmetics, accessories, bags, clothing have massively turned to “little fresh meats” to advertise and promote their goods.

The Chinese men are also not standing still. While having no choice but to accept the female power increase and their selectiveness, the male aesthetic and cosmetic surgery and medicine market in China has increased tremendously. Also personality and behavior training services for men are strongly increasing.

Men are now forced in this new position in society to look after their appearance and behavior in order to have their chances in work, relation and society.

The expression 小鲜肉 or “little fresh meat” is typical Chinese while it does not offend or humiliate straightforward the receiver (men), neither arouses a sense of shame or discomfort to the messenger (women). A unique example of Chinese language expressions to dare and challenge without disgrace and humiliation.

One psychologist in China analyzed this phenomenon as a supplement for a 'driving force', which was defined as 'Qi' (literally means "breathe") in the traditional Chinese medicine. One foreign psychologist compared  “little fresh meat” with "having fun by a beach in the south of France"

An amazing huge turn in today’s social development within China, whether positive or negative, the dynamic process for many people is reality today how they look at their lives, future and other people’s lifestyles. And it is naturally a unique impulse for the innovative commerce developments in China.  

“Different CHINA” is a series telling different sides of China which are lesser known to the world. China is well known through many publications for its miraculous speed of developments and growth in technology, environment, commerce, social structures and international standing with Chinese people embracing innovation while keeping tradition highly valued. But this image does not do full justice as China is so much more in its diversity, culture, environment, people and initiatives.  “Different CHINA” is part of 5iZ.

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