After they registered their marriage Zhou moved into the apartment where he

After they registered their marriage zhou moved into

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invitations to the cinema, to Pizza Hut, and other places she had never been. After they registered their marriage, Zhou moved into the apartment where he lived with his widowed mother, his divorced sister and the sister’s son. Despite her husband’s seniority in the family as the only son, Zhou was often at the mercy of her mean-spirited new relatives, who called their marriage a sham and accused Zhou of marrying for money. When Zhou became pregnant, she confided to me retrospectively, she considered abortion and even divorce, but stayed in the marriage because of her feelings for her husband. ‘He is good to me’, she explained. 640 A. Gaetano Downloaded by [Chinese University of Hong Kong] at 19:02 10 February 2014
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Changing patterns of courtship among rural migrant women are shaped by their mobility. Raised expectations of the future and demands for a partner with good conditions reflect their increasing sense of self-worth and achievement compared with non-migrant peers and village elders. These factors also manifest these women’s ambition to make something of themselves by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by their distance from home and by the urban environment. Their emphasis on feelings could be interpreted as providing a moral framework within which to justify both their desire for material betterment and the behaviors necessary to attain that goal (Farrer 2002). It may also have insulated them from the urban stereotypes of rural migrant brides as purely mercenary. These changes in turn challenged parental authority and demonstrated rural women’s independent agency in marriage. My preliminary findings further suggest that migrant women who enter freely chosen love marriages may experience more control over their post-marital household and family. Those who marry up, however, continue to experience discrimination on the basis of gender and rural origin. For my key informants, heterosexual marriage and the nuclear family ideal are important anchors both for their subjectivity and for their social and economic security. In this regard, changing patterns of courtship do not result in a radical restructuring of sexuality, gender or kinship. Yet the marriages described here are a practical means for rural women to fulfill their own aspirations for a better future. Migration, sexuality and social change In this article I have used ethnographic methods to explore the subjectivities and experiences of rural-to-urban migrant women in Beijing as they negotiated gender identity and marital practices in diasporic space. Rejecting rural identity and all that it signifies, they embrace a more sexualized, urban femininity. In so doing, they reproduce a discourse of ‘eating spring rice’ Figure 4. Zhao looking at her wedding photo album. (Photo Arianne Gaetano, 2002.) Gender, Place and Culture 641 Downloaded by [Chinese University of Hong Kong] at 19:02 10 February 2014
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that obscures their real contributions to the economy and rationalizes gender discrimination in employment, as well as reproducing ideas of suzhi that reinforce urban cultural superiority and hence perpetuate social hierarchy. Pursuing freely chosen love matches, young migrant women
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  • Fall '15
  • tang
  • The Land, Human migration, Beijing, Migrant worker, migrant women

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