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Home  /  Inside China  /  Anquangan 安全感 – What women want, and other people as well...
Anquangan 安全感 – What women want, and other people as well... print version
Anquangan (安全感 'sense of security') is a term that spans across physical security and well being to economic stability, as well as a broader sense of direction and prospect. Although its linguistic meaning is quite identical to the English counterpart ('sense of security'), in the socioeconomic reality of rapidly changing China, anquangan has a deeper and more sensitive significance.
Who doesn't want to feel secure? Unless one is masochist, has a close affinity to edges, or simply believes in a groundless existence, anquangan is desirable human condition. Still, despite its universal appeal, the frequency and contexts in which it is used vary between different regions and circumstances. In war zones 'security' is strongly associated with human lives, while in poor areas it refers normally to decent health, public services and bread on one's table.

In China, anquangan can be used in different contexts. A recent survey by the Beijing municipality checked the level of anquangan possessed by its residents, in other words, asking how Beijingers perceive the crime level in the city.

Still,  anquangan is usually used in a more metaphorical way in daily discussions and throughout the Chinese World Wide Web, and doesn't refer simply to physical conditions. Having a university diploma, a stable job, a decent salary and some nice assets (an apartment!) are all urban Chinese synonyms of anquangan.

Men strive to obtain it, they really do, more than frogs needs the puddle, but as it could be assumed, the anquangan discourse is possessed mostly by women, while Chinese men are responsible to supply such feeling, such comfort to the prettier sex. In a survey conducted by the psychology center in Shandong University, female students were asked about desired qualities in their future male spouse. Anquangan appeared frequently, in various formats, throughout their answers and even some of the very specific and superficial 'requests' by the girls can be analyzed as expressions of the strong need to feel secure with their guy, to be secured in their lives.

Chinese women (and this is a rather universal female characteristic) need to feel secure in their couple in several levels: Feeling loved, desired and knowing that their second half (lingyiban 另一半) is sincere and faithful. This is the more romantic sense, while needing financial stability in the form of a well-earning, serious and responsible husband is the the more practical one. Though it wouldn't be a mistake to state cynically that in the latter case wanting anquangan can be a nice way to say 'materialistic', it is quite naïve to draw a firm line between the 'romantic' anquangan and 'money-oriented' security. As a potential economic instability is awaiting around the corner of every China alley, love has a very short lifespan if there is no financial prospect nurturing it. Maybe it can said, in other words, that anquangan isn't strictly about love nor money, but about having a guy that provides comfort and whom a woman can trust for the long run.

The stressful socioeconomic reality of modern China plays a major role and intensifies some phenomena that certainly exist in other societies as well. Low salaries, numerous of applicants for every job position, university diplomas that provide a major advantage, but hardly promise anything for future days, 'sky price' (天价 tianjia) apartments - These are all factors that light up the anquangan discourse and make it so widespread. Such conditions also make the need of financial security merge with the need of love inside women's hearts. It is an expression most associated with the 80hou (post 80s) generation, but actually it has to do not only with post 1980 new comers, but with Chinese in any age that experience the post 1980 modern Chinese reality.

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