In 2016.5.3-2016.6.12, we did a survey in 11 parks or squares of Suzhou China to explore the pattern of square dance and the differences towards leisure behavior between genders. 400 participants took part in, with 44.1% male and 55.9% female. Among the participants, there are 28.3% are 55-60 years old, 77% are 61-65, 62% are 66-70, 16.2% are 71-75, 7.6% are more than 75.
We found that male and female are different in choosing leisure activities. Man are more prefer indoor TV/Video/Online activities, which can be conducted by one self and lack social interactions. While women take part in more physical exercises such as square dance. Considering China’s unique situation, exercises and sports as leisure activities are not that popular in China, even among young generations. Leisure choice used to be very limited until square dance gained its popularity. This new form of physical exercise gives women an opportunity to release their life stress or balance the psychological status which would improve their subjective wellbeing. However, stereotypes in regard to male dancers are seem as weak, feminine, gay, unathletic. So even the dancing moves are neutral, men still hesitate to join in. For other leisure activities, man are slightly more prefer on Shopping/Eating out/Chatting, Tourism and Art Activity (Museum etc.) and Reading, Card/Chess and Pet/Planting are slightly women dominated.
Even though more than 35% and 25% men and women spend leisure time with friends or family. But also, as demonstrated above, men are more likely to do leisure activities alone which may cause more depression as we mentioned in the last post. Men are also more likely to spend time with strangers, however, this random match-up relationship could not last long as a result contribute little on men’s social interaction. To compare, women have more connections with residents of the community who have better social skills as demonstrated in many studies. “Women thrive on relation building” (saw in a video). This long-lasting bound enables women positive attitudes and an outlet when their lives suffered.
When look at the disparity of the income and cost between genders, we may find out that women often get much lower income than men and spend less than men usually. Influenced by Chinese tradition, older people prefer saving money than spending. Even though the situation is changing, means that more and more people are intend to enjoy their lives such as travelling or doing more consumptions, for the majority, saving is still the theme in their daily lives. So the low-cost leisure activities while have changes of social interaction are popular among women.
So, of all the places for leisure activities, women’s choices are more than men on community, square/park and home where near their house and costs can be avoid to the minimum level. What’s more, their gender roles in family tie them tightly with the home. While men are more likely to go to consumption places which are further in distance such as tea house etc. to gain social interaction experience through consumption and school/library/museum/training center to get access to more knowledge.
From these few questions of the survey we may notice that stereotypes, character, family role and income influence leisure behavior and choice of men and women. Square dance become popular among women in China has its own reason and hope I could explore more in the next few posts.