bosom friends


bosom friends
When it comes to personal relationships, the Chinese never lack for terminology. Tongchuang refers to friends made at school; wangnianjiao, to friends of different generations; and monizhijiao, to bosom friends, or literally ‘friends of no betrayal’. The best-known example is the three legendary warriors Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, who vowed to die for each other, although from different families. Such friendship still exists, although rapid economic and social changes are gradually eroding its original innocence.
Traditionally, monizhijiao referred to friends of the same sex.
With a more open society, even China’s official media has become tolerant of the debate on whether different sexes can have bosom friends. The consensus sees a difference between hongyanzhiji and xiaomi, the former being a close female friend void of sexual contact outside a man’s marital relationship. A convenient example is found in a female friend of Bora Milutinovic, former coach of China’s soccer team. Apparently feeling uncomfortable using the term for the friendship between the two greatest contemporary Chinese man and woman of letters, Ba Jin and Bing Xin, people would rather call it monizhijiao.
Lanyanzhiji (a male bosom friend) emerged corresponding to hongyanzhiji. Some independent white-collar women argue that if men can have hongyanzhiji, they see no reason why they cannot have men as their lanyanzhiji so that they can enjoy a qingshanzhijiao (friendship with someone in a suit). However, as some ask in a world of patriarchy, how many men would be cool enough to be a lanyanzhiji?
YUAN HAIWANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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