Last month, a peasant girl shared her life’s difficulties on the internet, writing about her life of poverty, misfortune, and struggle to live in Shanghai and help support her family in the countryside. Frustrated, she finally said it was better to be a rich man’s mistress than marry a poor man.
This post became very popular very quickly and even China’s major television company, CCTV, reported about it earlier this month. They found the girl who wrote the post and broadcast her story to explain why she wrote the post and what has happened in her life since then. Below is the CCTV report (first ~16 minutes):
The following is a rough English transcript/summary of the video:
After posting on the BBS, some netizens expressed their understanding and sympathies to the Peasant Girl (农家女). Others doubted the authenticity of the post. They saw it as the product of someone’s boredom. But most of them criticized her and scolded her for her thoughts and feelings. They all thought that what she wrote openly challenged public order and tradition.
What reasons made Peasant Girl post her article? What was her intention? Where is she now? Why did she write such an article? Are there hidden stories behind her story? This reporter contacted the Peasant Girl several times and asked to see her but was refused. After much correspondence, she agreed be interviewed.
Little Yang [The peasant girl that posted on the BBS. “Little” is often a prefix used with the surname of younger people. It means “little, young”] said that everything that happened was caused by an accident several days ago. That day, she went out to look for a job but wasn’t feeling well. She fainted on the street and was taken to the hospital. When she woke up, she was shocked by the 1300元 bill. The high medical expenses caused Little Yang to become penniless — she had just lost her job before all this had happened.
Although friends helped her to raise enough money, Little Yang was still very worried. Firstly, she was worried about her health, at that time she always experienced blurry vision, doctors said that if she did not receive treatment in time, there would be a risk of her becoming blind in the future. Secondly, she was worried about being unable to find work. Going to the doctor costs money and she did not know who next she could borrow money from. At that time, she felt very disappointed. Little Yang found a sister [in Chinese, friends are often called “brothers” and “sisters”] who lived with her once and wanted to borrow some money from her, but this sister was facing a difficult situation herself. Her sister’s difficult situation reminded Little Yang of her own difficulties; she gave up hope and wrote the article and posted it on the BBS.
Little Yang’s mother had a serious heart disease and was waiting for Little Yang to send her money. Her younger brother also needed to pay his school fees. She felt very helpless.
A sister who lived with her was a working girl. She wanted to borrow some money from her to overcome her difficulties. But her sister was facing difficulties as well. Her husband was ill, all their savings had been spent on his medical treatment and he was still sick. Her husband also lost his job because of his illness. She earned 2000 yuan per month but she still had to pay the rent, her husband’s medical costs, living expenses, and also send money to her family and her husband’s family. Little Yang and her sister started talking and said that it was better to be a maid in a rich family rather than to be the wife of a poor man.
Her sister’s difficult situation reminded her so much of her own difficulties, Little Yang felt there was no hope in life, so she wrote the article on BBS “I’d Rather Be A Concubine/Mistress Than Marry A Poor Man”
It was a moment of impulse, to let out her frustration and disappointment, but after the article was posted Little Yang was confronted with the impact of her words. She also felt the power of the internet.
When her emotions were running high, Little Yang said “Do you want to force me to die? If you really want that then I will die in front of you.”
What made Little Yang even more disappointed was not the reaction of general netizens, but the teacher who favoured her the most in university, who telephoned her to lecture her.
After the incident, Little Yang was feeling deserted, betrayed by her friends and relatives. A friend of Little Yang’s, an ordinary working girl, broke off any relations with Little Yang after Little Yang posted her article on the BBS.
She was very frustrated, but there were some things that made Little Yang feel comforted.
A young man called Little Bao, an enthusiastic netizen, was very sympathetic towards Little Yang and her plight. He decided to help Little Yang in any way he could. Faced with Little Bao’s good intentions, Little Yang did not initially accept his help. She felt that they were very similar, both of them had come to Shanghai to work and their income wasn’t very high, she could not bring herself to spend his money. However, because her eye problem was getting worse, and yesterday she finally agreed to accept Little Bao’s help. Little Yang stressed that money for her treatment will definitely be repaid to Little Bao in the future.
Troubles from the BBS post had far exceeded the trouble of finding a job. With the increased traffic to Little Yang’s post, the number of those who lectured and scolded her were on the rise. Even so, Little Yang still could not help being concerned about the response online. However, Little Yang was surprised that there was a company which left a message for her and expressed their sympathy and they wanted to give Little Yang a job. At first, Little Yang did not agree. Then she received a call from this company which asked her to for an interview.
Little Yang accepted the interview with this networking company. So far, the company was generally satisfied with Little Yang’s performance, but was still considering employing Little Yang. Little Yang was really hoping to get the job; she was from a rural village in the North, her mother was in poor health, she had two younger brothers in university and the family was in debt, all this in spite of the fact that Little Yang was a university graduate. However, because of a variety of reasons, she has not been able to find a stable job. This was precisely why she felt her future was gloomy and unknown.
That network company soon contacted Little Yang and showed interest in employing her. They said that they would give Little Yang a chance and help make her dreams come true. But their claim was quickly challenged by netizens who felt that the company wanted to use the opportunity for themselves. Little Yang felt that the company was a good company; they has staff dorms, so she could save some money on rent. The company also had a training program to help employees develop themselves.
Many people felt this story had a fairly satisfactory outcome. However, reporters later learned that Little Yang did not accept position that the network company had given her. It was discovered that the company had tried to use Little Yang’s story and their job offer to promote their company. Little Yang said that she wrote her post not to gain attention so she could get a job. If she got the job this way, she would feel a lot of pressure, and that is not what she wanted.
Comments from Sina:
路过红尘梦 (lu guo hong chen meng):
A diploma is just the initial confirmation of knowledge. In the real world, you have to turn your knowledge into ability. After we criticize the miserable experience of peasant girl (农家女), there are actually many other problems to think about. What about the many other peasant girls and peasant boys who live far away from their homes and their hard lives? Or the attitude that they should have when they try to live in the space of a city? The road is so long for them and what they have are still many things they have to do…
惊贱 (jing jian):
This was Just broadcast at 12:00 in the noon, it is pity that I did not catch the first broadcast.
Thanks for the CCTV interview and the additional information that was not shown to us. Peasant Girl (农家女) looks kind, strong, firm and brave. I believe that after the broadcast we will know peasant girl more clearly and wish for her life to get better and better.
It is not easy for everyone~~~ The power of the internet is evident. It’s making people reflect on their own lives.
五线谱狂想曲 (wu xian kuang xiang qu):
This reflects the social problem of the gap between rich and poor.
何喜刚1964 (he xi gang 1964):
Morals are built on the fundamentals of survival.
恶魔岛1989 (e mo dao 1989):
Little Yang, you should not refuse the job. In fact, there is a kind of persistence in everyone’s heart. But this kind of persistence will make you feel difficult. You are so difficult. Why are you controlled by that kind of persistence?
There are so many people in China. Everyone wants to survive, live and have a good life. So many students graduate every year, where is the future headed??
江月 (jiang yue):
I don’t agree with the girl’s thoughts. I think she lacks initiative and ambition and cannot adapt to competitive society hence so she lives a tired life. In particular, she only sees the faults of her environment, and her writing is filled with resentment. It expresses her view of the world which lacks initiative and ambition and she can only wallow in self-pity. Anyone can reject low standards, bad taste, mediocrity and a lack of initiative, but why has this person, who has received higher education, made her life so difficult for herself? She doesn’t know how to manage her finances, but did anyone take away her right to learn how to manage her finances? A person’s social understanding starts the moment he starts working, it is without limits. With such a starting point, she fell to such a sorrowful situation, but is that the fault of her environment? Everyone has difficulties in life, many elementary school graduates and junior middle school graduates can grab hold of their own lives, and find their own family, economy and friends, if she cannot then it is her fault! Factoring in other people and the countryside is irrelevant!!! I suggest that she actively participate in some self-help courses, and work hard to understand how to handle people and issues, which can help her change herself. A positive attitude is very important.
醉眼之城 (zui yan zhi cheng):
This girl does not look like a girl from the countryside. She looks more like a rural resident who became an urban resident. She isn’t like a real city slicker who puts on airs, but she has studied the attitude of people loving leisure and hating work in the city.
Any gentleman who has any brains will not marry this kind of resentful woman!
手机用户 (shou ji yong hu):
This society has many unfair things: I am a laid-off worker and my husband is a worker for Sanyi heavy industries. At present, Sanyi used 10 security guards to illegally detain him in the meeting room of Sanyi’s Changsha [capital of Hubei province in China] office (up to now, it has been six days and six nights). I called the police but despite witnessing the criminal offence, they told me to negotiate with Sanyi and left. We don’t know whose benefits are protected in this society. The rich can do anything that they want, and they have their own agendas. The local government dare not control them. In this kind of environment, it does not matter what kind of thoughts she has, I can understand!!!
I think what we’re really discussing is the probem of improperly allocating resources in society…
I have discovered that many people lack sympathy, seeing others suffer like this while standing on the side making sarcastic remarks. It is not kind.
To the Peasant Girl, if there are no better options, she should not refuse this opportunity. I think she might have found a better job. Perhaps after this interview was publicized, she felt that she got this job through her post and not through her own ability and qualifications, and this made her feel embarrassed. Her refusing is within reason, but I hope the reason for her giving it up is because she found a better option, and not because she has no other choice but still gave up such a good opportunity.
I wish her good luck.
I am also a girl from countryside. But after I graduated from university, I stayed in the city, got married and found a career and lead the life of a city dweller. My parents are still in my hometown. Relying on farming is simply not enough to even cover the cost of farming, let alone support themselves. 50-60-year-old people also have to support themselves by working.
You don’t know? In this world, as long as there are women, there will be plenty of people who will be found wanting.
I am paying a close attention to the peasant girl on the internet. With social responsibility, traditional morals, and self-discipline, it is unacceptable that she posted an article like that. But if you connect these to life realistically, to yourself and to social experiences, what she thought and did will make you sympathise with her, because there are a great many instances of unfairness in life. What can a weak girl do when there conflict arises from the helplessness of life, social morals and justice?
I wish there was more justice in the society. The dirty treatment of money and power should not be tolerated by people anymore.
叛逆的人生 (pan ni de ren sheng):
This is the tragedy of the socialist system!!! In fact, cases like Little Yang happen a lot in society. But what I don’t understand is if you are poor, why still go to college? What use is it? The main thing for a woman’s life is to find a good husband. If you go to university but still cannot find a job, it would have been better to just have been a prostitute. Exchanging youth for wealth would be a bit more practical. Actually, her post really reflects people’s helplessness when poverty-stricken!!!
More information about Little Yang can be found here (Chinese).