“Old Women Should Get Married” – More on ‘Leftover Women’

Stop being picky and just get hitched! This is what China is telling the young women in today’s society through the pressure and influence from family, friends, and the media. There are even television shows, and a LOT of them, about dating, match-making, marriage, and “love.” While I lived and studied abroad in Shanghai, I would frequently watch television at night with my host family, because that was a popular daily social norm for them. We watched one of three different things: the news, obstacle course game shows, or shows about dating and match-making. The most popular TV show we would watch was called “For Love or Money?” which involved women choosing suitors based not on personality, but on whether or not they had an apartment and how many square feet it is. Women also judge men on this show based on their salaries, (an open topic of discussion in China), and what kind of car they own. They women are often blunt and slightly cruel to the male suitors, suggesting their serious intentions of finding a mate to settle down with. Another popular TV show that we would watch was a dating/match-making show with mothers of young women on stage who choose the male suitors for their daughters. Why is their so much emphasis on marriage in Chinese culture? In an interview recording of a young, successful woman named YuanYuan, she admitted that there is immense pressure on her to get married, and fast. “Huang is a confident, personable young woman with a good salary, her own apartment, a master’s degree from one of China’s top universities, and a wealth of friends. Still, she knows that these days, single, urban, educated women like her in China are called “sheng nu” or “leftover women” — and it stings.” (http://pri.org/stories/2013-01-28/china-investing-big-convincing-leftover-women-get-married)
She is on the verge of turning 29, single, and financially stable, so she is therefore considered a ‘leftover woman’ by society’s rule. YuanYuan confessed “living alone, I can do whatever I like, I love my job, I can do a lot of stuff all by myself…the reason why I enjoy my life is because I have so many single friends around me.” Her parents forced her to go on blind dates, but all of them were awful, awkward, and forced. She loves her life single and successful and doesn’t mind if it stays that way for a long time.

The more research I engage in doing, the more fascinated I am by this social stigma that has been attached to these young women.

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