China's current generation is known as the "Lost Generation." For a more in-depth article on this generation, you can read Time magazine's piece at http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1820796,00.html
However, this is a story about one of my students.
Snow White was exposed to pornographic films by her grandfather at age four. She started acting out the films with playmates at age five. Her parents owned and operated an "entertainment venue" (prostitution ring) when she was eight. Her father had frequent affairs and her mother was frequently told that she was just not "beautiful enough" to keep him faithful. (In other words, the affairs were the mother's "fault.")
Both parents moved out of the house when Snow White was 12. They took her brother with them. All of this was done in the name of making money. There were job opportunities elsewhere and the parents were going after them with everything they had. They provided money, but she was solely responsible for herself. She had to buy and prepare her own food, take care of the home, take care of her own clothing and go to school and maintain the top grades that were demanded of her.
When her parents called home, they would ask, "Do you miss us?" Snow White was so angry at them for the life they fostered upon her, that she said, "NO! I don't miss you and I don't want you to ever come back."
Her parents response to this was to berate her for being "non-filial." She was repeatedly told how she was an ungrateful daughter and how she didn't appreciate everything that was being done for her. As a high school senior, Snow White was threatened by a teacher and she asked her father to step in and defend her. Her dad replied, "Who do you think I am? I don't have enough status and power to go against this teacher! You are in the wrong! Whatever this teacher has accused you of is true."
The "guanxi" network of China is hard to explain. I'll just sum it up as saying bribery is a common defense against accusations and truth is seldom the goal. The dad was probably right in saying that he didn't have enough status and power because he hadn't "invested" in those things on his daughter's behalf during her growing up years. He was also probably not willing to bribe the teacher to drop charges against Snow White.
When Snow White took her college entrance exam (the sole criteria used to determine which university you go to), she was deemed a "failure" when she didn't make high enough scores to get into her top choice. She came to our university here in the northwest and slept her way through her first two years of school.
As a freshman, Snow White became sexually active. She skipped most of her classes during that year, trying to find the love and approval she missed during her growing up years. She repeated this behavior throughout her sophomore year as well.
As a junior, Snow White became a follower of Jesus. God turned her life around and she is making great headway. She struggles with guilt and she struggles with forgiveness. She feels quite unable to forgive her parents and she doesn't want to see them. However, she is still financially dependent upon them. She is still told that she is not a good daughter. She feels second fiddle to her brother.
She feels so lost. As a translation major, she feels that her chances for a good job are very slim. Unemployment of college graduates is quite high, although, under-reported by the government. She is afraid of the future because it appears to be based on shifting sands. The rapid growth of China has resulted in moral chaos (as evidenced by her parents' actions, all done in the pursuit of "the good life"). Corruption is everywhere, leaking into every aspect of life.
She is already being pressured by her parents to find someone to marry. A single woman in China is of no value. Women are expected to find their spouses while in college, although, they are not expected to marry them until a few years after graduation. A female graduate without an "arrangement" is deemed another failure.
This isn't so different than our fairy tales. After all, wasn't the fabled "Snow White" fulfilled only when her Prince Charming woke her from her sleep? Aren't all the Disney princesses "rescued" by a Prince Charming?
My Snow White says, "I have no control over my future." I trust no one because all the people I have trusted in the past have let me down. Trust is useless. My future depends upon whether or not I go to graduate school and that depends on my parents. My parents want me to be a "good" daughter, but I don't even know what that means anymore. They didn't love me as a child . . . why should I love them as an adult? I have no desire to care for them when they are old. I shall abandon them as they abandoned me."
"There is no hope for people like me. We are told one thing, but shown another. Words don't match actions. Even our jobs aren't dependent on our actions and skills. Getting a good job is more about who you know . . . or who your parents know."
A lost generation. Go back and read Time's article. It's not very long and it describes many of Snow White's feelings.