Imagine a world where nobody says “I love you,” sex is a mystery until the wedding day, and romance has nothing to do with the serious business of marriage. Then fast-forward a mere sixty years, to a place where teenagers hold hands in public, young parents go out for dates—by themselves—on Valentine’s Day, and grandmas dream of having “that spark” with someone before they die. This is…China? Join Melissa Schneider, author of The Ugly Wife Is a Treasure at Home: True Stories of Love and Marriage in Communist China, as she brings us inside the mainland’s unfolding romantic revolution. From the early communists who taught budding cadres to “search for their beloved” to today’s “modern parents” who permit teen dating, the story of romantic love in China is full of surprises. But as China’s mistresses and ugly wives, matchmakers and leftover men can attest, the social changes taking place over the last ten to fifteen years are utterly unprecedented. The mainland’s romantic revolution is here, but will it really have the power to reshape marriage in China? Join us as Melissa Schneider, LCSW and CSSW ’06 alum, shares her findings from two years of interviewing in Shenzhen, China, on a quest to answer this very question.
About the Speaker
Melissa Schneider, LCSW, is a couples’ therapist and wellness consultant with a keen interest in the long-term factors that predict relationship stability and happiness. She moved to Shenzhen, China two days after her own wedding, where she grew curious about the unfamiliar dynamics underpinning love and relationships on the mainland. She interviewed forty-eight people born after the rise of the communist party and published their stories in The Ugly Wife is a Treasure at Home: True Stores of Love and Marriage in Communist China. She has given talks about relationship science and Chinese social trends at Oxford University's China Centre, Carnegie Mellon University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the Asian American Bar Association, has appeared on the Freakonomics podcast and Business Insider, and her book has been used in courses at Oxford, John Hopkins, and the University of Hong Kong. Ms. Schneider has a Masters in Clinical Social Work degree from the Columbia University and lives in Jersey City with her husband and toddler twins. Read a sample of The Ugly Wife here.
This lecture is part of the 2019-2020 annual lecture series on "Using Scientific Evidence to Address Social Challenges in China" cosponsored by the Columbia China Center for Social Policy and Weatherhead East Asian Institute and supported by the Columbia School of Social Work.