The Factory Girls in China

| October 6th, 2009


Key: This is a recent forum post on Netease by a young man working in a “typical” electronic assembly factory in Guangdong province where over 90 percent of the factory workers were girls. A rather innocent and insightful observation I thought,  really gave us some insights on the lives of these young factory worker girls.  At the same time it was quite in tune with the book <Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China> by Leslie T. Chang.

There are about 6,000 people in the factory I work at, but most of them are girls, usually from 16 to 22 years old. Because all of them started working right after graduating from (Jr.) high school, after working for couple of years they would go home and get married. In these couple of years, perhaps it was the season of their first awakening of love, but the factory they were in had way more girls than boys (every year occasionally there were couple male workers hired thought insiders). Therefore these boys could change many girlfriends each year.

Some of these girls wandered around their hearts outside, so they gave some outside “trashy guys” the opportunities. These guys fooled around outside every day, in fact they were lazy; they wanted to go into a good factory but they were not qualified; when they got into a not so good factory, they complained the wages being too low. Some just didn’t have a job, fooled around every day, and gradually formed a small group. Then they committed petty crimes, or robbed people on the street. (They only dared to rob from little girls from the factory). These were considered “successful” bums, not so “successful” ones directly went to our factory to look for worker girls. After their persistent stalking and finally getting the girl then they would start their care free life of “eating soft rice”. (吃软饭 Eating soft rice is a Chinese slang for a relationship where the woman makes money to support the man, where man does nothing.)

A lot more girls did not even have the chance to make friends of opposite sex, so some of them dedicated their lives to internet love. Usually you would see them on the cell phone and on QQ whenever they had the chance to. Some of them giggled in front of the cell phone, this meant a sad person soon to be realized, because basically the people on the other end of the cell phone were only swindling for money or for sex.

However, there were small number of individuals were particularly clever, through various outside channels got to know some bosses and were “kept” by the bosses.  (“kept” by the bosses, means being bosses’ mistress) Every Saturday, there were cars in front of the factory waiting to take them.

Even fewer were the legendary lesbians, in the beginning I did not believe when hearing from other people. Because I thought they were at such a young age, they should be interested in opposite sex. Then when I went out on the weekends, people pointed them out to me “See, see those two holding hands are a couple.” I said “Don’t talk nonsense, those girls holding hands and walking is very normal, they are not guys, what’s so strange about it?” After a while he said again “look”. I look over and saw another couple, this time they were hugging each other on the shoulders. I was confused… but still said “Maybe they are just joking.” Later, my friend said “Why don’t you believe me? Last time I took a girl to get a room in a hotel, they were getting a room also…”

Sigh! Aren’t there more men than women (in China)? But how come these girls started living in an abnormal life?

Key: Poster later revealed in comments that he worked in an electronic assembly factory in Guangdong province. Other netizens concurred that the fact of some factories only hire women and some only hire men. And most electronic assembly factory in southern China are like what he described, only hiring young girls.

Obviously this post was only the view of one Chinese factory worker, if you would like to learn more about the hundred millions of these factory girls in China and their stories, check out this book <Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China> by Leslie T. Chang who was a former Beijing correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.  She spent two years in China following two young women workers from one factory to another and also to their home villages where they came from.  Chang told intimate  and insightful stories of the factory girls and exposed serious social issues in China around them.

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