Last year my ma told me about a Chinese movie called Mistress Dispeller. Like “expelliarmus” but for the other woman. Mistress Dispeller is a rom-com. Mistress dispelling is also a legitimate career in China. At first when ma told me this I was like, whatever, no seriously? Seriously. I don’t know why I doubted it. Around the same time, The New York Times reported on China’s “industry of mistress dispellers” and this month, Jiayang Fan has written a great piece on Chinese mistress dispelling for The New Yorker. It’s already one of my favourite articles of the year.
But first, what is mistress dispelling? Clients of mistress dispelling agencies are mostly women who suspect their husbands of cheating on them. The agency then works with the client to improve her marriage (be nicer to your husband and compliment him more) and then they mission off a 007 mistress dispeller to infiltrate the life of the mistress and eventually, through a variety of creative schemes, end up convincing the mistress to break up with the man or they set up a situation for her to leave town.
Mistress dispelling is expensive. Like thousands upon thousands of dollars. So I asked ma – what’s the point, why don’t they just leave? Well then I got yelled at for asking a stupid question. Most Chinese women don’t have assets. Not even the ones who are married to affluent men. Often, in a divorce, like many of their western counterparts, they end up with nothing. Divorced Chinese men do not lose value. Divorced women, on the other hand, are described as “secondhand cars”, majorly depreciated. (Unless, of course, you’re Wendi Deng.) For those of us who live in the west, who enjoy certain freedoms, it seems f-cked up, I know, to spend all that money creating a web of deceit in order to stay with a deceitful spouse. But in her piece for The New Yorker, Jiayang Fan gives the situation so much dimension and context, when you read the article, it’s not just simply about women being “weak” and deciding on the “right” thing to do.
How long before someone opens a mistress dispelling agency in North America? I just read this week about a woman in New York who hires herself out as a “professional wingwoman” to help singles on their dates, like Will Smith in Hitch. So we’re back to the rom-com. Could a rom-com about mistress dispelling work in North America? Is this a good idea for a TV show?
Yours in gossip,