You may have wondered about the sudden burst of blogging activity in these past few weeks. It isn’t because we were inwardly convicted or our lives suddenly became more fascinating. It is, in fact, the old standby…Procrastination. We have a lot of masters’ work to finish in the next few weeks. And somehow, when I sit down to write something for a class, a whole bunch of other more interesting ideas come to mind. You may not think they are so amusing, but consider this: would you rather read random blog musings or my class paper? That’s what I would rather write as well.
So today when I went to the supermarket I was thinking about a funny China phenomenon: The Feminine Product aisle. (Capitalizing makes it seem more significant, doesn’t it?) For starters, it is indeed a whole entire aisle. There are a lot of things that China doesn’t have, but it’s certainly not lacking in feminine products. If you are a guy, it’s entirely possible you’ve never even been in said aisle in America, since its mere proximity makes you sweat. So I will enlighten you: in America it is maybe half an aisle of 3-4 brands. Chinese supermarkets, however, boast dozens of brands, and within each brand dozens of varieties of size, shape, scent, packaging picture, and other yet-to-be discovered variations. It’s capitalism at its height. Even our campus store, which is smaller than a gas station mini-mart, has an entire aisle dedicated to Feminine Products.
One thing I find to be especially funny is that you will usually see one or two guys in this aisle, browsing with their girlfriends. And they aren’t even doing the awkward “how did I get into this” stance or the shifty “I’m pretending I’m not here” eyes. They are actively involved in the selection process. They will pick up and examine packages to compare with their girlfriends. They seem about as natural as when they are holding a woman’s purse or wearing pink shoes. In other words, completely natural.
While we are on the subject (a subject that probably won't come up very often, so I'd better take advantage of it), I am reminded of a funny story (not my own). Students sometimes bring gifts when they come to visit our homes - usually something like fruit or strange little knick-knacks. But a past teacher in Yangzhou was once given a gift of sanitary napkins. Her student (a girl, thankfully) said, “This is my favorite brand, and I think you will like them.” I wish that would happen to me. It would be a priceless experience.
Anyway, I thought I would share this interesting bit of Chinese culture with you. You can’t read about these things in the travel books. Some things just have to be experienced.