My colleague Lin Yang writes:
With the flagging economy, no one’s job is secure, not even for a mistress. A Qingdao newspaper reported that a Qingdao businessman facing money problems decided to “fire” four out of his five mistresses last December.
According to the paper the man, surnamed Fan, was “inspired by those talent challenge programs he saw on TV”, and arranged similar competitions for his five mistresses. Only the top winner would remain Fan’s mistress and enjoy a monthly income of US$800 and an apartment. The five women then presented themselves in front of a professional model trainer, gave speeches, sang songs and even gulped down liquor to show their drinking capacity.
All went as Fan planned until one of the women turned out to be a very bad loser. Fan’s first mistress, Yu, came from rural Shanxi, and being the least educated among the five had trouble finding another job to support herself. Determined to take revenge, she invited Fan and the other four women on a road trip and drove off a cliff on the way. Yu died but the others survived.
Most readers of the story find it hard to sympathize with Fan or the mistresses, especially when millions are having trouble making an honest living. But the tragedy is not entirely of their own making. Wealth has become the main criterion for success and happiness in this society, yet it’s not easy for ordinary people to work towards an affluent life. Hundreds of thousands of college graduates are left unemployed every year and even less help is available to those with little education. If there were other options for women like Yu to make a decent living perhaps the tragedy could have been avoided.