In search of young virgins

Rich Chinese men advertise for chaste wives.

Published January 24, 2006 9:32PM (EST)

Thanks to Broadsheet readers for sending us this story from today's New York Times about how some Chinese millionaires are placing ads to find virgin brides.

The practice began two years ago when a rich auto parts magnate was lamenting his divorced status and his friend suggested in jest that he place an ad for a new wife.

He did -- and 600 responses came flooding in.

"That first virgin bride advertising campaign ... has given rise to a mini-industry: hundreds of supposedly super-rich lonely-hearts and hordes of young women, often professing to be virgins, hoping to meet well-heeled men," reports the Times.

A few months ago, the China Daily ran an article about the practice and reprinted an ad from a man seeking a virgin in her 20s: She should be "as beautiful and pure as a lotus flower, fair-skinned and slim," and mild-mannered, and should possess "Chinese virtues and stay at home after marriage."

According to the Times, placing ads for wives is just one example of the sexual revolution taking place in Chinese society. "In a breathtakingly short period of time  sexual and romantic opportunities have sprung up everywhere in a society that still thinks of itself as conservative in such matters. Prostitutes work openly in almost every hotel in China. The Internet has made possible everything from online dating to nude Web-cam dancing, sprouting a vocabulary all its own, like M.B.A., or married but available. And, unsurprisingly, divorce rates in big cities like Shanghai are skyrocketing."

On message boards, Chinese women seem conflicted about the trend. Some posts quoted in the article say that women who answer the ads are no better than prostitutes, while one woman who was rejected by a billionaire said that entering the contest was an expression of her sexual freedom.

In real interviews with Chinese women, however, the Times found little enthusiasm for the ads.

"I have to take time to see if a man is quite suitable for me or not, because life is a long course," Su Jie, 23, told the Times. "I can make money for myself, maybe not so much, but enough. It's more important to me that we understand each other."

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

MORE FROM Lori Leibovich

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