It’s a woman’s world when nühanzi step up

It’s a woman’s world when nühanzi step up

By Chen Chenchen (Global Times)    08:11, September 30, 2013

Several photos that recently went viral on Weibo, or China’s Twitter-like microblog,showing a girl drinking from a jug instead of a cup and another trimming her toenails withan awe-inspiring pair of pliers rather than a clipper, have drawn attention to the risingdemographic of nühanzi, or manly women. In a bid to redefine the word “female” in China, these “tough Chinese girls” are pointing usback to the periodic table. Given that “fe” represents “iron” – “female” could translate to”iron male” or someone manlier than a man himself, they argue. Yet before you go labeling yourself a nühanzi, there is a list of criteria that you must firstmeet. If you never wear makeup, always carry your own bags, have no time to waste on”selfies” and annihilate potato chips by pouring them straight into your mouth from thebag – then congratulations, you are a strong contender.
But, to be a true-blue “iron female,” you must devote nearly all of your waking hours toplaying online games like Warcraft and League of Legends.
“Girl power” has been developing around the world for years, especially in developedcountries. In China, the trend has become more prominent in recent years as the country’ssocioeconomic conditions continue to improve and advance.
Though that hardly means all working women today qualify as nühanzi, the sight ofindependent women around us has become commonplace in China, particularly in bigChinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
From high-salaried women who pay their own mortgage to those who run after the bus inhigh heels on their way to the office, it is evident that a greater number of women aretaking control of their lives and solving problems on their own – without the help of men.
Often targeting the urban, educated female audience, Chinese movies, too, are more andmore catering to nühanzi-types. In the romantic comedy I Do, released in time forValentine’s Day last year, the leading female role, Tang Wei, a 32-year-old shengnü or”leftover woman” played by famous actress Li Bingbing, is depicted as some kind ofmodern nühanzi-like goddess rather than a pathetic, old spinster.
With a successful career and her own apartment – and a defiant and decisive personality tomatch – she is the typical nühanzi – only with two billionaires chasing after her. Onepretends to be an ordinary man and gradually works his way into her life, while the other,her ex-boyfriend, tries to win her back after breaking her heart.
In the end, all nice and coy, she turns them down – wanting them to compete again for herheart. The last scene shows the men clumsily running after her as she struts ahead withspectacular ease, her long, luscious locks bouncing playfully in the wind. I can still hear thelaughter of the women at the theater when I think back to the movie’s ending.
Yet for all the independence women are gaining, traditional values in the home are still farfrom being overturned.
Nühanzi are clashing with the men around them. Several of my girlfriends who haveattended matchmaking parties complain that the men they meet still need and desire”traditional women” who focus on family and center their lives around their husband andchild.
But nühanzi wouldn’t be nühanzi if they couldn’t handle a bit of a challenge, right?
It may take some time for all “manly men” to warm to China’s emerging class of nühanzi -but their power to inspire is hardly being so foolishly overlooked.
Nühanzi pop singer Li Yuchun, who won over audiences in Super Girl’s 2005 season withher boyish charm before splashing the cover of Time Asia magazine for courageouslychallenging traditional norms, continues to inspire a new generation of Chinese girls,encouraging them to believe that they can do anything that a man can do – and more.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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