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Public Feast as Author Reveals Husband's Infidelity Online

Economic Observer Online
By Tang Jiachen (汤嘉琛)
Mar 30, 2012
Translated by Laura Lin
Original article
: [Chinese]

The drama of real life is always better than fiction.

Over the past few days, Liu Liu (六六), one of China's best-selling authors, has exposed her own marriage crisis online.

Just as her best-selling novel, Wo Ju (蜗居) was going to print in 2007 – it was later turned into a hugely popular television drama awkwardly titled Dwelling Narrowness that tackled issues of fidelity and the difficulty of affording a house in China's mega metropolises - her husband had started having an extramarital affair.

The author decided to go on the offensive and publicly launched a verbal attack on her husband's mistress or "Minor Third" (小三), as mistresses are often referred to in China, in the process bearing more than a passing resemblance to one of the characters she portrayed in her novel.

If we look at it objectively, we can see that by choosing to reveal her domestic problems via her Weibo account, Liu Liu gains the advantage of striking first against her rival.

Her seemingly polite and restrained mini messages successfully define the other woman as an "enemy" determined to destroy her marriage, while she manages to appear as the good wife who is calmly attempting to deal with a crisis in her marriage.

Thanks also to the online participation of her more than 2 million followers on Weibo, as well as the attendant flood of media coverage, Liu Liu has managed to present herself in the role of the innocent victim and thus has gained the moral high ground in the sphere of public opinion.

But we should be clear that this apparent attempt to preserve a marriage is in essence a form of public spectacle.

On the surface, Liu Liu's attempt to persuade her rival to surrender looks like a public plea against the person who threatens her marriage. But in reality, it is also a contest of the involved parties based on their respective ability to speak out.

After Liu Liu's public declaration, as an influential online voice with the all-important "V" (for verified user) next to her name, she has been able to rally the support of million of supporters from China's vast blogsphere. The "other woman" on the other hand is nothing but an obscure and unknown user with no real means to mount a defense of herself.

Given this disparity in ability to shape public opinion, the woman accused of being a mistress fate is sealed - she'll be the object of scorn and derision.

A Feast for Others

What we see in this affair is the vague specter of Internet violence: 2.5 million posts on the subject, many filled with vitriolic language; a wave of photos of the unfaithful husband, his personality and looks picked apart; worse still, people who had nothing to do with the original affair were somehow pulled in and are suffering unprovoked verbal abuse.

It's unlikely that the "other woman" will be able to escape the fate of being "human-search engined"

However, can Liu Liu really win back her husband by making use of public opinion and denigrating her rival? Only she knows. After all, love and marriage have always been a private matter, and only those involved know what is really happening.

Nevertheless, what is certain is that by hanging out one's dirty laundry in the public square, unless it was all some beat-up for the purposes of publicity, in the end, one's private life has simply been turned into a feast for the crowd.

Except for a few real friends, nobody really cares about the crises in other people's marriages. When the crowd has finally dispersed, the parties involved will feel like they have been stripped naked.

That a woman, particularly a well-known woman, should chose to defend her marriage in this most drastic manner is in itself a very sad thing. It only helps to further blur the boundary between the public and private domain. Even if the aggrieved party has found some false sympathy and support, in the end it's unlikely that her actions will help to solve the problems that exist in the relationship and only make her an object of ridicule for a time.

Marriage is never a one-sided business, nor does the breakdown arrive instantly. Rather than using a microblog as a platform of communication, the parties involved would be better off talking to each other calmly in private. This may require a much more formidable inner strength.   

News in English via World Crunch (link)


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