When you end up alone and possibly even a virgin at the age of 30, there are many answers you might use to explain your “leftover” status. Among the explanations, a popular one is — childhood. For many Chinese, their lack of experience with the opposite sex plagues their love lives well into adulthood; their childhood and teenage years were so restricted in terms of interaction with the opposite sex that future relationships were left doomed from the start.
Of course, there is more to relationship failures than what happens during one’s youth, but some parents and schools’ paranoia regarding “puppy love” (早恋, literally “early love”) contributes to students’ inability to cope with affectionate feelings and expressing love.
Recently, a draft regulation on how to define male and female students being in relationships was set down by Xiang’an Middle School in Xiamen and went viral online. Many of the prohibited behaviors are way over the top, making people wonder if the school board came from an earlier, say more medieval era. A brief view of the, somewhat laughable, items that qualify as students being in love:
1. A male and female student should not be next to each other at any place on the school premise at any time that is not in class, nor should they hold hands.
2. On weekends, two students in the classroom or strolling in school are to be treated as being in a relationship.
3. Holding hands on the way to school is to be treated as being in a relationship;
4. Holding hands on the way home after school is to be treated as being in a relationship;
5. Any mentioning of relationships on QQ, online forums, text messages, phone calls, etc. is to be treated as being in a relationship;
6. Being too intimate or holding hands in dorms is to be treated as being in a relationship;
7. Whether male or female, asking out for a stroll in the park, shopping, outing, or to catch up on schoolwork together, is to be treated as being in a relationship;
8. Whether male or female, no one is permitted to celebrate birthday on campus, which includes: giving flowers, giving cakes, drinking soda or alcohol together, all participants would be held responsible for such gatherings.
So that’s that cleared up then, everybody is in a relationship. Quick, call the police!
Earlier this year, a high school in Hangzhou was reported to have prohibited boys and girls dining at the same table, as well as limiting the minimum distance to be kept between a boy and a girl (50 cm, apparently). Another high school in Henan province designated that all interactions between students of the opposite sex needed to be in a well-lit place, and at least five students needed to be present to serve as witnesses. Students who violated these rules may be expelled (yes expelled), or be asked to voluntarily quit school.
Due to the life-determining gaokao and Chinese education’s emphasis on studying, students are told from when they are little all the way 18 years old that relationships are terrible, and almost incriminating thoughts should be punished. Perhaps when leftover men and women are asked by their parents why they haven’t gotten married or a found partner, they can simply answer: Because I don’t know what to do!