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“剩女”歧视和家庭压力之间:女性的两难

更新时间:2016-10-14 10:42:33 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why Women Still Can’t Get a Break
“剩女”歧视和家庭压力之间:女性的两难

BEIJING — On a Saturday afternoon in late September, I sat in the brand-new auditorium of my former high school in Beijing, watching the gala for my 10-year reunion. Near the end, teachers stepped onto the stage to deliver speeches.

北京——9月底的一个周六下午,我坐在高中崭新的大礼堂里观看十周年毕业返校庆典。庆典临近尾声,老师们走上讲台致辞。

“Girls, I hope you will focus on finding your life partners,” said the Chinese-language teacher, with the same stern air as when she urged us to succeed on the college entrance exam. “Marriage cannot be delayed,” the biology teacher said. The physical education teacher offered to set up single alumnae with eligible bachelors at her husband’s company.

“女生们,我希望你们可以尽快找到人生伴侣,”语文老师用当年督促我们高考成功的严肃口吻说道。“婚姻不可耽搁,”生物老师提醒道。体育老师提出将单身女校友介绍给她丈夫公司的男性未婚人士。

At the dinner afterward, the conversation at my table turned to career changes. A friend surprised everyone by announcing that she would move to Shenzhen, a southern city, to look for a new job. Marveling at her courage but concerned about her decision, another classmate asked if she was aware of the “complications” faced by a childless woman seeking employment in her late 20s.

在庆典结束后的晚餐席上,大家聊起了职业变动这个话题。一个朋友出人意料地宣布她即将搬到南部都市深圳去开始一份新的工作。另一位同学在羡慕她的勇气之余同学,为她的选择感到担忧,问她是否了解一位二十七八岁尚无孩子的女性求职可能遇到的“复杂问题”?

My female classmates and I, beneficiaries of China’s economic boom, are cruising along exciting professional paths. Yet the country’s shifting social conditions carry more complex implications for our lives than first meets the eye. Social changes that have given urban Chinese women new liberties and ambitions often impede our freedom in other ways, erasing policies and ideologies that had helped diminish gender differences.

作为中国经济腾飞的受益者,我和我的女同学们正在通向四面八方的精彩职场道路上顺利前行。然而瞬息万变的中国社会条件对我们的生活带来的影响却并不总一目了然。近些年的中国社会变化带给我们新的自由与梦想,却也削弱了以前帮助缩小性别差距的政策与意识,从另一些意义上为女性上制造了障碍。

After China privatized public housing in the 1990s, homeownership became a common aspiration for urban families, and later, a prerequisite for a couple tying the knot. The resurgence of centuries-old beliefs, coupled with soaring real estate prices, have reinforced the social norm that the husband should provide the majority of the money for buying a home upon marriage, and also be the sole holder of the title. But a 2012 study found that 70 percent of brides or their families contributed to the purchase of a home, yet a woman’s name appeared on only 30 percent of the deeds.

自从90年代商品房市场诞生,买房成了都市家庭的共同追求,也成了男女走向婚姻殿堂的垫脚石。传统观念的复兴以及房地产价格的高涨让人们普遍认同丈夫应该承担买房大部分的费用,并把房产视为他的财产。一份2012年的研究显示,尽管百分之七十的新娘或她们的家庭为买房作出了贡献,她们的名字只出现在30%的房契上。

The arrangement bears enormous economic consequences when couples divorce. The Supreme Court interpreted China’s Marriage Law in 2011 to allow the holder of the title to keep property upon divorce. The divorce rate has more than doubled in the past decade, and with most women’s names left off property titles, Chinese women have been losing a lot of money when marriages dissolve.

这种格局导致了严重的经济后果。2011年最高人民法院出台的《婚姻法》修正案中允许婚姻双方在离婚时各自保留自己名下的财产。随着中国在过去十年离婚率翻倍,女性的名字被排除在房契之外意味着她们在离婚时将遭受惨重的经济损失。

Decisions about having children can serve as leverage for women in domestic bargaining. This power is amplified by the government’s recent move to scrap the one-child policy and allow all couples to have two children. And sometimes women resort to extraordinary measures to share in homeownership.

在商量家庭内部事务时,女性可以用生育作为商讨的筹码。政府近期取消独生子女政策的决定更加大了筹码的力量。于是有时女性为了拥有住房,会采取非常手段。

Two years ago, the elderly couple who lived next door with their son and daughter-in-law unexpectedly traded their spacious apartment for two humbler dwellings. I later learned that the young woman had been refusing to conceive until her husband’s parents gave her a home of her own.

我家隔壁曾住着一对老龄夫妇与他们的儿子儿媳。两年前,他们出乎意料地卖掉了宽敞的公寓,用换来的钱买了两套小型住房。我之后得知,年轻的儿媳要求她的公婆给她单独的住房,否则拒绝生育。

But the overall impact of these social changes on women’s work-family choices is distressing.

然而这些社会变化为女性在工作和家庭之间的选择带来的总体影响却令人担忧。

Housework and child-rearing have always fallen on women’s shoulders, even during the Mao era, when women were held up by the government as men’s equals. Their responsibilities increased in the reform period, beginning in early 1980s, as the state rolled back child care support and the middle class began to invest in early-childhood education. In the meantime, women also began to pursue careers of their choice, and compete with men under the new rules of market economy.

即便在政府宣扬男女平等的毛泽东时代,家务和育儿实际上总是女性的职责。80年代初改革开放后,随着政府对育儿扶持的减少和中产阶级对早教投入精力的增加,妇女的责任变得更重了。也是在这时期,妇女开始加入市场经济,在新的规则下和男性竞争。

While many mothers, like my own, managed to juggle their domestic duties and professional tasks with remarkable grace, the demands on women without significant spousal support or social policy protection create an impossible balancing act.

尽管包括我妈妈在内的许多母亲娴熟地兼顾了家庭和工作,妇女感到在没有政策支持和伴侣的帮助下,独立承担这些任务十分困难。

“Raising two children in Beijing would definitely cost me my job,” a friend who works in marketing at Google in Beijing confessed to me, explaining why she would not take advantage of the end of the one-child policy.

“如果要在北京带大两个孩子,我绝对无法兼顾工作,”一位在谷歌北京公司做市场营销的朋友对我说,解释这是她不会选择利用二胎政策的原因。

Also daunting is the widespread pregnancy discrimination in a workplace. “A woman used to have an easy time finding a job after she had given birth once,” said a classmate at my high school reunion. “Now employers have reasons to worry twice.”

遍布于职场上对孕妇的歧视性政策同样让人头疼。“以前女性在生过孩子后就好找工作了,”高中聚会时以为同学说道。“现在雇方要担心还有第二次。”

While these difficulties may resonate in the context of Western debates, these issues are so new to China that the public still has little expectation of positive change. My suggestion to my female friends that fathers should take half of the child rearing and housework responsibilities is often met with a surprised look or a smile of disbelief.

这些困难在西方的辩论中耳熟能详,但它们在中国仍是新兴问题,导致人们对于改变现状不抱有太大希望。当我对女性朋友们提出父亲应当承担一半带孩子和做家务的责任时,她们往往一脸惊讶,或露出难以置信的微笑。

It’s not only children putting caregiving demands on urban Chinese women. Elderly populations in Chinese megacities have soared — for example, in Shanghai nearly 30 percent of the 14 million residents are above 60, an increase of over 5 percent from a year ago — straining the country’s rudimentary system for caring for the urban elderly. Seeking to shift some of the burden to families, the government passed a law in 2013 requiring adult children to visit their parents regularly.

孩子并非中国都市女性唯一要照顾的对象。中国特大城市的老龄人口正在剧增——上海如今有一千四百万年龄超过60岁的老人,比去年增加百分之五——为中国城市简陋的养老系统带来压力。为了将一部分负担转移到家庭身上,政府于2013年通过一项法律,要求成人必须定期探望父母。

But the decree merely reflected what had already been taking place. Married couples care for their elderly parents in most urban families, studies show, with the bulk of the responsibilities falling on women. Wives are often expected to care for their own parents as well as their husbands’.

但这项规定仅仅反映了已经摆在眼前的社会现实。研究显示,大部分的都市家庭中已婚夫妇都负责照顾老人,其中主要责任落在女方身上。出了自己父母外,妻子们常常还要担当照顾岳父岳母的责任。

Is it a wonder, then, that a growing number of professional women in China, buttressed by their education credentials and financial independence, are deciding to delay or forgo marriage and family? A 2010 study shows that half of the women with a university degree or above are unmarried or divorced. Derided as “leftover women” in the news media and by the government, they are subjects of well-intentioned exhortations, like those from my high school teachers, as well as less-than-generous assumptions from society at large.

由此看来,中国越来越多受过高等教育,经济独立的女性决定推迟或放弃婚姻,难道是件令人吃惊的事吗?一份2010年的研究显示,拥有大学以上学历的女性中,一半处于未婚或离异状态。她们在政府与媒体的口中被谴责为“剩女”,成为像我高中老师一样的人们好言相劝的对象,也招来社会上另一些不甚友善的偏见。

A few days ago, a female acquaintance who works in a state publishing house told me, matter-of-factly, that she had rejected a well-qualified female job applicant for an editor position because the woman, being single at 36, clearly “has severe personality flaws” or “psychological issues.”

几天前,一位在国营出版社工作的女编辑若无其事地告诉我,她刚刚拒绝了一位应聘编辑工作的符合条件的女性应聘者,原因是她36岁仍然单身,说明她一定有“严重人格缺陷”或“心理问题”。

In 2013, a 23-year-old female college graduate from Beijing filed a lawsuit against a tutoring firm for turning down her job application. The company rejected her, she explained to the news media, because it said that the post of executive assistant required a man, someone who could carry out physical tasks such as refilling the bottle on a water dispenser.

2013年,一位23岁的北京女大学毕业生起诉了一家拒绝了她工作申请的培训机构。她对媒体解释道,她被告知自己被拒的原因是“行政助理岗位需要雇佣男性,可以承担例如为饮水机换水一类的体力活。”

When the case was settled, with the tutoring company paying the woman $4,500, it was hailed as the country’s first gender discrimination lawsuit.

法院最终判决培训机构赔偿女性4500美元。这起官司被视为中国第一起性别歧视诉讼案。

“Finally someone is standing up to protest,” said the woman’s lawyer.

“终于有人站出来反对了,”女学生的律师说道。

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