From an early age many of us are all led to believe that our main purpose is to get married, have children and carry on the family line.
Both little boys and little girls grow up with this idea somewhere at the back of their minds, and regardless of the fact that the modern world no longer puts that much emphasis on marriage, men and women grow up expecting that at some point it is going to happen to them too. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Well until recently meeting and marrying a woman of your choice was quite normal and easy. Throughout history, the ratio of women to men has always been 100:100 – i.e. 100 women for every 100 men. However, in recent years this has started to change.
In some societies the ratio of women to men has dropped considerably, and in places such as China and India, you are looking at ratios as high as 123 boys for every 100 girls. In the United Arab Emirates and Qatar the numbers are even higher with an average of 250 boys for every 100 girls.
The truth is, if you’ve ever been in the position where you haven’t had a date or a girlfriend for a long period of time, or, if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “It’s so hard to find a nice girl these days” you have experienced first hand how a lack of women can make you feel.
Yet, what happens in a country when the men far outnumber the women and there’s no relief in sight?
China’s “Bare Branches”
Probably the biggest example of a country suffering because of a gender imbalance is China. Back in 1979 the Chinese government introduced the “one child per family” policy to curb China’s expected population explosion.
At the time this was revolutionary thinking and as with many ideas, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” However, no-one anticipated how this policy would affect the country in future years. Let me explain.
Family is highly regarded in Chinese culture, where traditionally, the family line is passed on via its men. Conversely, when a woman marries, she is expected to join her husband’s family.
Having a boy is not only tradition, it’s also a logical choice because boys are the ones who will continue the family lineage, and boys are the one’s expected to support their parents in their old age. With these beliefs firmly entrenched in the country’s psyche, gendercide (a term coined by Mary Anne Warren in her 1985 book with the same title), became commonplace.
Families restricted to having only one child, preferred to have an abortion rather than give birth to a girl. Stories about female infanticide, or excess female deaths through neglect, are rife, but whether these stories are true or not is not really relevant. The fact remains; China is now a country with a surplus of men.
In January 2010 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said one in five young men of marriageable age would be unable to find a bride in the coming years – a figure unprecedented in a country at peace. In ordinary circumstances, slightly more boys are born than girls because boys are more likely to die in infancy.
By having a slightly higher boy-to-girl ratio at birth it ensures that there will be equal numbers of young men to young women at puberty. What this means is that in all societies records show that there are between 103 and 106 boys born for every 100 girls.
However, according to an analysis of Chinese household data carried out in late 2005 and reported in the British Medical Journal, ratios at birth in at least 14 Chinese provinces show numbers of 120 boys to 100 girls and above, and 3 have unprecedented levels of more than 130 boys for every 100 girls.
As CASS says, “the gender imbalance has been growing wider year after year.”¹ That means 30 to 50 million men will fail to find wives over the next two decades.
China has now become a country in desperate need of women. The men of eligible age are now being referred to as guanggun, or “bare branches,” because they have no way of “bearing fruit” and carrying on the family line. Of course this gender discrepancy also creates other problems.
The women in China know that they are in demand and they have become demanding. Gone are the days when they would be willing to find a decent husband who would take care of them and they would work together to care for aging parents and raise children to carry on the family line.
The modern woman in China demands a man who will pander to her every whim. A common sentiment among young Chinese women of marriageable age is, “Man without money is garbage.”
Chinese women today will not get married to a guy who doesn’t have a house, a car and a high paying job; and because there’s so many guys to choose from they can definitely get away with being fussy.
A Shortage of Women Can Destroy an Entire Country
Whether a guy gets married or not shouldn’t really matter to anyone other than to the guy himself, right? Wrong! In fact, young men with poor prospects of ever getting married and starting a family spell danger to themselves and to their societies.
China is the world’s highest populated country, followed very closely by India. Interestingly enough, India’s preference for boys has also led to a skewed sex ratio in India according to a 2001 census: with 116 boys to every 100 girls.² Since then those numbers have risen dramatically. So, how does this affect a country?
According to World Life Expectancy.com, human trafficking and sexual slavery are on the rise in China. The same is true in India. Poor villagers in both countries who are desperate to marry and have a family are willing to do anything to get a bride.
This has led to an increase in kidnappings and the selling of eligible young women from other districts. The low female to male ratio in India has caused bride-purchasing to become common practice in the states of India such as Haryana, Jharkhand and Punjab.
According to CNN-IBN, women are “bought, sold, trafficked, raped and married off without consent” across some parts of India. In China bride buying is also an old tradition, but the practice was mostly stamped out by the Chinese Communists.
However, due to the jaded male to female ratios in the country, it is not considered “unusual in rural villages” where it is also known as mercenary marriage.³
Other problems that are springing up around China and India because of the imbalance between the sexes is the increase in violence. Young men become increasingly sensitive to their circumstances, and when the number of men who will never find a wife rises, so do their needs.
Young men who cannot find a natural and healthy outlet for their testosterone (like having sex), become reckless in an attempt to improve their prospects. They become more violent, get offended more easily by any perceived slights and insults, and start more fights – often over trivial issues. These are the triggers for most man-on-man assaults and homicides.⁴
At the moment this violence seems to be localized in isolated pockets in small communities but as the situation deteriorates, it is becoming more and more widespread.
Indian rape cases have been highlighted in the news in recent years, with the biggest of these being the gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old woman in Munirka, a neighborhood in South Delhi, in 2012.⁵ In China, authorities try to hide violence statistics stemming from the sex ratio disparity because it is considered a source of national shame.
If There’s No Women, What Do Men Do For Sex?
Although violence, human and sexual trafficking and bride buying are a definite result of the gender disparity, not all guys resort to these measures. However, a lack of women in China, India and other countries, means there are a large number of men who are living without sex.
Men need to have sex with women and they’ll do anything to substitute it if they can’t get it.
Thirty years ago in China couples were not even permitted to share a kiss in public. However, attitudes are changing and suddenly the sex toy market has become a viable way for men to “have sex” in a society lacking women.
Sex toys are no longer hard to find and many items are sold in “adult health” shops around the country, and are even available in hotel minibars, or at the checkout counters in some convenience stores.
According to Lin Degang, chief executive of an online retailer of sex toys, the market is predicted to grow to around 40 billion yuan ($6.4 billion) by 2014.⁶ Highlighting expectations of growth in domestic sales; two private equity firms recently invested 300 million yuan into Love Health Science & Technology Co, the biggest Chinese sex toy manufacturer.⁷
For a country where pornography is still illegal and punishable by fines and a prison sentence of up to 3 years if found in possession of pornographic material⁸, these are huge figures. Even so, Chinese men are still shy about being seen to use sex toys, which is why the majority of business is done online.
Sex Toys For Men?
As the demand grows, so does the supply. Sex toys are now no longer a crude piece of plastic with anatomically correct holes. Sex toys have become more realistic and many men claim to enjoy the experience even more than real sex with a real woman.
Some guys are even “falling in love” with their sex toys which is creating further problems for a country that is so desperate to produce male heirs.
At present, sex toys for men are divided into 2 categories:
A brand of sex toys made of flesh-like material (hence the name) and designed for penetration primarily by heterosexual men. Essentially this is a toy that looks like a vagina, anus or mouth and is used as a substitute for the real thing.⁹
2. Blow-up dolls and Real dolls.
Throughout history, men looking for sex but without access to available women have made do with various substitutes. Sailors often used cloth to fashion sex dolls known as dame de voyage in French, or dama de viaje in Spanish.
In modern-day Japan, sex dolls are sometimes known as “Dutch wives” referring to hand-sewn leather masturbation puppets made by the 17th-century Dutch sailors who traded with the Japanese.¹⁰ Today, sex dolls are no longer the crass imitation of the 1980s which could only be found in sex shops and were more suited as gag gifts.
Sex dolls today look a lot like real women. Materials are used to imitate real skin and facial as well as anatomical features are designed to replicate a real woman as closely as possible. Real dolls even come with a “voice box” which imitates a woman’s groans, and a vagina that maintains a temperature of 37.5 degrees.¹¹
However, is this really enough? Having sex is one thing but essentially, most single men complain of being lonely. So what is the solution?
Why the Chinese Might Make Robot Girlfriends Normal
In many parts of the world, robotics is the way of the future. However, most countries are focused more on using these robots to make war rather than love; but not in Japan. Hiroshi Ishiguro, a roboticist in Japan is busy creating the ultimate robot girlfriend.
Geminoid F is one of the latest in a series of machines designed by Ishiguro and his engineers made to realistically resemble people. She is a strikingly beautiful robot with glossy hair and smooth, translucent skin.
She blinks, fidgets and makes small, distracted movements with her lips. She can turn her head to look at you with surprisingly realistic eyes. “My goal is to understand what human is,” Ishiguro says. “By making a copy of a human, we can understand humans.”
The confusing emotional questions that come with human-robot interaction have given rise to an emerging sub-discipline, dubbed “lovotics”. An academic journal of the same name was even launched to address the question of how robotics can enrich our physical and emotional lives.
At present, Geminoid F is only available as a research prototype, but in 30 to 40 years from now it’s not far fetched to expect robots to be able to mimic the basic behavior, conversation and intelligence of humans.
Guys will be able to date these “femme-bots” who will be available with a “personality app” that allows the user to change her personality from shy, to sexually confident, to rude, to polite, etc. Already, the developers of Geminoid F are starting to have feelings for her.
When Ishiguro was asked if he has feelings for the robot, his answer was, “Maybe. [It’s] confusing. We are working so many years together. I’m very sure my students, some of them are loving this humanoid. The relationship is very human.”¹²
Ultimately, this may be the solution for many lonely men who are facing a future without the possibility of finding a suitable woman; and who knows where this will stop.
Is it even possible that men will be marrying robots in the not so distant future? And what about having “children” together? Could it even become possible sometime in the future to simulate a pregnancy and raise a robot child with your robot wife?
But in the Meantime What Can the Men of China Do?
Although having a robot girlfriend or using a sex doll may appeal to many single guys, China is still a country that is entrenched in tradition. Getting married and producing an heir is of paramount importance for most men, which means desperate times call for desperate measures.
For some guys this means having their parents attend the Shanghai People’s Square “Marriage Market,” or the “matchmaking corner” as the locals call it, every Saturday and Sunday.
Here hundreds of parents gather up, regardless of the weather, clutching single sheets of paper that present their children in a favorable light in the hopes of attracting a suitable mate. Unfortunately, the results are not in favor of the parents.
According to one desperate mother, “I’ve been coming here every weekend for two years, but here is a low rate of success. Some people come for four or five years, but never find someone.”¹³
For others the solution is to look elsewhere. Increasingly more and more Chinese men are marrying outside their culture. In 1978, according to government figures there was not a single inter-racial marriage registered in mainland China.
However, despite being extremely xenophobic, the numbers of Chinese marrying foreigners has gradually risen, with 53,000 inter-racial marriages registered in 2012. ¹⁴ Those numbers have increased even more since then.
A big motivating factor for many of these men is due to the growing materialism of Chinese women and the pressure to provide a new apartment, car and a huge monthly paycheck for one’s bride-to-be.¹⁵
Where There’s a Need..
Ultimately, one thing is quite clear; regardless of the circumstances, humans will find a way to deal with even the biggest problems.
Although China, India and many other countries are facing the possibility of a “womanless” future, entrepreneurs are finding ways to fill these needs. Whether the way of the future is sex toys, robot girlfriends and wives, or an inter-racial world, only time will tell.
¹ (2010, March, 4).The worldwide war on baby girls. Technology, declining fertility and ancient prejudice are combining to unbalance societies. The Economist. Retrieved from
² (2010, March, 4). Haryana’s lonely bachelors. Struggling to cope with a dearth of brides. The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/node/15604465
³ Bride buying. Wikipedia, Retrieved from
⁴ Brooks, R. (2013, March, 5). China’s biggest problem? Too many men. Special to CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/14/opinion/china-challenges-one-child-brooks/
⁵ 2012 Delhi gang rape. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Delhi_gang_rape
⁶ (2012, November, 19). After long night, Chinese sex toys see new dawn. Reuters. Retrieved from
⁷ (2012, November, 20). Sex toy industry booms as mainland Chinese spice up their love lives. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1086583/sex-toy-industry-booms-mainland-chinese-spice-their-love-lives
⁸ Pornography in Asia. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_in_Asia
⁹ Fleshlight. Wikipedia. Retrieved from
¹⁰ Beck, J. (2014, August, 6). A (Straight, Male) History of Sex Dolls
Since ancient times, men have been getting it on with synthetic women. Is this just fancy masturbation, or something more troubling? The Atlantic. Retrieved from
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¹³ Bolsover, G. (2011, October, 17). What’s it like inside Shanghai’s ‘Marriage Market’? It’s busier than a wet market, but the success rate is worse than a job fair’s. CNN Travel. Retrieved from
¹⁴ Murphy, Z. (2013, October, 24). Mixed marriages in China a labour of love. BBC News. Retrieved from
¹⁵ Tan, T. (2010, November, 11). Chinese men looking West. China Daily. Retrieved from