Xie Zuoshi, an economics professor at Zhejing University of Finance and Economics, recently garnered international attention for his proposal that China allow polyandry to satisfy the country’s significant surplus of bachelors.

According to the New York Times, he also proposed that marriage between two men should be legalized for the same reasons, in a separate blog post that has been deleted. Via the Times:

By 2020, China will have an estimated 30 million bachelors — called guanggun, or “bare branches.” Birth control policies that have limited many families to one child since 1979, a cultural preference for boys and the widespread, if illegal, practice of sex-selective abortion have contributed to a gender imbalance that hovers around 117 boys born for every 100 girls.

Xie characterized his suggestions as “purely economic,” writing: “High-income men can find a woman because they can pay a higher price. What about low-income men? One solution is to have several take a wife together.” This idea, predictably, did not go over well with women’s and gay rights activists:

“Men are publicly debating how to allocate women, as though women were commodities like houses or cars, in order to realize some grand political ideal originating from either the patriarchal left or the patriarchal right,” Zheng Churan, one of five women’s rights activists detained in March while campaigning, wrote in an essay for a WeChat group called Groundbreaking. “Behind the imbalanced sex ratio of 30 million bachelors lie 30 million baby girls who died due to sex discrimination. But somehow everyone’s still crying that some men can’t find wives.”

Although the gender ratio imbalance in China is starting to shrink as attitudes change, a difference of this magnitude can be extremely destructive, raising the likelihood of violence and anti-social behavior and, law enforcement agencies believe, propelling sex-trafficking. But China’s social engineering policies have also had some unintended benefits for Chinese women, who are putting off marriage longer and making more money as a result of their demographic advantage. And who are most likely not too impressed by this plan.


Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.

Image via Associated Press.

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