After Work

Mengna Lei | China, USA | 2016 | 3 mins

After Work Synopsis

The taboos surrounding sex, love, and intimacy in modern Chinese society are grappled within every home.

More from the Filmmaker

I grew up in a traditional Chinese family. Most marriages in my parents’ generation (born 1950-70) were arranged. Two people, who hardly knew each other, would marry based on age, social status, and looks. A woman who has a close relationship with another man before marriage is considered promiscuous–a source of shame for her parents. A woman should be “clean,” a virgin, so love outside of marriage could ruin the chance of increasing the status of a family. This is why romance TV was considered deviant for young women. It could inspire bad behavior and ruin a woman’s chance at a good marriage.

But when a woman becomes a housewife, she must care for other family members and complete chores all day. A housewife has a low status, even if she does everything “right”. By contrast, a typical Chinese father has a strong sense of self-esteem and pride. His status is unquestioned and inviolable. Sometimes a father will do the wrong thing but keep it a secret. They want to be treated as a respected man in the family regardless of what they do. The couple in my animation is inspired by this dynamic.

Recently, the number of extramarital affairs is increasing in China. This issue is highly reported in Chinese media. Affairs are gossiped about and even reported in the news as a recent phenomenon in this decade. Over the past 40 years, since the cultural revolution, modern Chinese society is more open to free love and premarital cohabitation, but people still worship young beautiful women and money because it is power and luxury. Will society change?

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