In the past month, one of the most frequently asked questions over the dinner tables was probably “Have you watched Brides wannabes?”. “Brides wannabes”, a local TV reality show, in which a group of single women received a series of trainings and make-overs from coaches in the hope to secure a husband. The show hit high viewership rate and aroused heated debates in the society.
In traditional society, women had rather restricted choices in their lives. Their social values were largely determined by marriages. Thus, getting married was considered a must; and single women were being called names which implicated a meaning of being unwanted and left-over.
Industrialization and modernization generated a great demand for labors. Women entered the labor market and progressively were opened with more opportunities. Together with the feminist movement starting from the 40s, improvement in education and job opportunities, social involvement such as the right to vote, to mobilize resources were seen. Women are more able to live their lives on own free will.
Nowadays, regardless of the advancement in gender equality, stereotypes on women’s gender role still prosper. When you turn on the TV, flip through newspaper or magazines, surf on the internet, you could still find lots of unfair oppressions. For example, single women are called “Left-over Women” or “Makeinu” (originated from Japan, translates to “loser dog”), while single males are called “Hot Property”; women with high education, income and job titles are called “3-Highs Hong Kong Women”, which are considered major barriers of getting married. These labels might sound funny, but the shadow cast on the self-worth, opportunities and social values among women, has been hindering women’s development.
Don’t think that the idea of “men as breadwinners and women as homemakers” is anything but obsolete; it’s still upheld in our everyday modern life. Full-time working women are still taking more responsibilities in household chores and child-rearing than their male counterparts, thus the phenomenon of dual-role women and the problem of role overload; unequal pay for equal work, until now, still could not be eliminated.
When it comes to the issue of gender equality, there is a lot of room for us to think about. Unfortunately, ideas which reinforce women’s gender roles are not without their supporters. Let’s wish one day our society could breakthrough the stereotype and bestow the freedom to individual woman-- Brides, to be or not to be.