Friday, December 2, 2011

A "Leftover" Woman?

I was looking at the Today show yesterday and one of the anchors mentioned a story on "Leftover Women."

Now, I had never heard of this term before so I did a Google search and found this Ms. Magazine article that was published online Nov. 22.

According to the piece, a "leftover woman" is used in China to describe "an urban, professional female over the age of 27 who is still single." The Chinese term is called a shengnu.

The article notes that there are 3 types of "leftover women":
1) The first type are women between the age of 25-27 who "still have the courage to fight for a partner."
2) The second type are women between the age of 28-30 whose careers leave them with limited opportunities for romance.
3) The third type is a woman over age 35 and "has a luxury apartment, private car and a company."

The author states that the derogatory term is the Chinese government's way of "warning women that they will become spinsters if they do not marry by the time they turn 30."

The New York Times wrote about the shengnu last year. Check out the article here.

This piece was a little more positive noting that a shengnu was a woman who was "well-educated, well-paid and independent." The NYT story, however, pointed out that these women were also referred to as 3S women: "single, seventies (most were born in the 70s) and stuck.

The NYT article quotes a 2009 story from the China Economic Net which mentioned that, "A successful woman wants to find a more successful man. While a successful man’s ideal wife is not necessarily successful but gentle and virtuous."

Hmmmm, sounds like America.

I'm not quite sure what to think of this. First of all, I hate the term "leftover" to describe a woman. It reminds me of an old meal nobody wants the next day.

Anyway, thoughts on this?


Anonymous said...

How insensitive. I'm no one's leftovers or sloppy seconds. The term evokes the idea that you should pity a woman in this situation, and that's ridiculous. Where a woman may be of a certain age and still has goals that she's yet to attain, does not make her any less of a woman, leftover or unworthy of the love and respect any other woman should receive. That's my two-cents.

SingLikeSassy said...

I actually find this sentence from the post more interesting:

It adds that because of China’s sex-ratio imbalance, as many as 24 million men could be perpetual bachelors by 2020: “The marriage competition is fierce and statistically, women hold the cards.”

Seems odd that they have this leftover women issue, but the ratio is in women's favor.

Man Huang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Man Huang said...

China is a country struggling between the eastern Confucius tradition and western believes of liberty, equity and freedom. So, it is not just as simple as being insensitive or inconsiderate, it is a complicated issue involving with cultural differences and various value systems.

In traditional Chinese believes, women's only and utmost roles are taking good care of their husbands, having children and educating them, with everything else omissible (e.g., having a career), which apparently has clashes with today's western and modern values of being an individual and independent human, but still poses impacts on modern Chinese women and the whole society's believes toward marriages and child bearing.

Also, the mass media in China is trying to exaggerate such an issue to a higher and intenser level, with numeras TV dramas and movies giving the terminologies and portraits of "leftover women" and their fight to find the other half and the society's sympathy to them, which has made single girls feel more and more pressure and concerns (thinking about how such an issue had been exaggerated and even US media and TV shows pay their attention to it).

The Chinese society is highly congregated and connected, and people's value systems and norm believes are easily affected by how their families, friends and colleagues (*others*) think. That's how some girls have increasingly lost their *own* judgement and critical thinking about the true values as an intellectual individual, but choose to follow others' opinions and suggestions. Some are willing to give a rush to getting married but left behind their dreams to pursue a career or achieve higher in the academia.