Western magazines, such as Elle and Cosmopolitan, are published in Chinese editions to offer the young Chinese consumers an international perspective. From these magazines, young Chinese female professionals learn how to fashion their own images and how to manage their lives (Link, chapter 6).
The new lifestyle of consumption in urban China is closely related to the economic reform: professional women who work in certain types of jobs now can earn significantly more money than in Maoist China because wages are no longer regulated by the state. Women and men now have greater chances to exercise their abilities if they work hard enough and have the right opportunities, as in the story of the lawyer Liu Xiaohong (see pages 151-53). Sure, they may still face similar problems as their rural counterparts sometimes, such as spousal abuse (155) or sexual harassment from male bosses or colleagues (156-57), but they are on the whole much more mobile than rural women and being literate and knowing their rights better, they are more likely to flee, resist, or fight it out than their rural counterparts. On the whole, urban women gain considerably through the economic reform.
24. Rural to Urban Migration as solution to the urban/rural gap?
The Cultural Revolution practice of sending millions of Red Guards to the countryside as a way to integrate the country and the city, in retrospect, looked extremely naive. The educated urban youth seldom really integrated with the peasants---they lived in separate quarters, often kept to themselves during their spare time, and many kept on studying with whatever books they were able to smuggle to the country, with the hope that one day they would be able to get out of there. Their dream finally came true in winter 1977, when the nationwide college entrance examination system was again revived. Almost all the college freshmen of 1977 and 1978, and half of the freshmen of 1979, came from the reeducated youth in the countryside or from the factories. As time went on, many of the remaining reeducated youth came back to their hometowns from the countryside (unless they had lived in Shanghai; many could not return to that city because of overcrowding).
With the growth of the market economy and the household responsibility system in the countryside, the reverse has been happening in the past ten or more years: about 100 million farmers have migrated to the cities looking for work. They usually live in sub-standard housing, working for extraordinarily low wages, with no health insurance, no workplace guarantee of safety, and no retirement pension. The huge gap between life in the city and the country means even when many are making below minimum wages in the cities, they are still making more than they would in the country. One question that is likely to arise is: is this reverse flow of population going to reduce the gap between the urban and the rural in China?
The gap between the urban and rural is so huge that Li Zhang sees the urban and rural populations as belonging to two different "nations" (see Link, chapter 12). This difference continues when rural girls rush to the cities for sweatshop jobs. The very depressing working conditions described in Link (in chap.7) contrasts with the greater job opportunities for educated city girls, indirectly reflected in the magazines the latter read (see Link, chapter 6). The leisure, dreams, and taste of urban girls are things the