Should Chinese women have multiple husbands?

Society & Culture

An online controversy erupted in China when Yew-Kwang Ng (黄有光 Huáng Yǒuguāng), a Malaysian economist who currently serves as a professor of economics at Fudan University in Shanghai, published an article suggesting that China legalize and promote polyandry to mitigate the country’s surplus of bachelors.

An online controversy erupted in China when Yew-Kwang Ng (黄有光 Huáng Yǒuguāng), a Malaysian economist who currently serves as a professor of economics at Fudan University in Shanghai, published an article suggesting that China legalize and promote polyandry — allowing women to marry multiple men — to mitigate the country’s surplus of bachelors.

Titled “Is polyandry really a ridiculous idea?” the controversial article (in Chinese) was published on June 2. Huang says that in China, where the sex ratio is 117 men to 100 women, the severe gender imbalance has caused a fierce competition among men seeking wives, leaving millions of bachelors struggling to “have their psychological and physical needs satisfied.”

He provides two possible solutions to what he considers as a “serious problem” facing the country: decriminalizing sex work and allowing women to have several husbands. According to Huang, “building brothels for men to visit” is a short-term fix for men with “urgent needs.” But in order to solve the problem in the long run, Huang argues that polyandrous marriages should be taken into consideration.

Huang says that women are more capable of fulfilling multiple men’s sexual desire than the other way around. “It’s common for prostitutes to serve more than 10 clients in a day,” Huang wrote. Meanwhile, when it comes to other aspects of life, Huang argues that it’s reasonable for women to do chores for several households for the sake of efficiency. “Making meals for three husbands won’t take much more time than for two husbands,” he writes.

On social media, Huang’s suggestion has been lambasted for different reasons. Some people oppose his idea because polyandry defies their traditional views about marriage. But more people, mostly women, have criticized Huang for his misogynist attitude toward women, saying that he saw women as nothing more than reproductive tools and objects to fulfill men’s sexual needs. “This is not polyandry. This is several men sharing a sex slave,” a Weibo user wrote.

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