The Constraints of Being a Single, ‘Sheng Nu’ Woman

As I sift through several interesting articles related to my topic, I have come across one that exemplifies a qualitative method of research.  In an article written by Sandy To      titled, “Understanding Sheng Nu (“Leftover Women”): the Phenomenon of Late Marriage among Chinese Professional Women,” she bases her discoveries off a study conducted of 50 single professional Chinese women and the “interactional constraints” that they face.  To notes that several women used the term “discriminatory” and “controlling” when talking about the harsh treatment they constantly experience from their male romantic partners – this outwardly reflects the ever-present patriarchal structure that has ruled, and continues to rule, Chinese society today.  To discusses the the “four different types of Chinese professional women” who face an array of dilemmas when choosing the right partner, and who suffer from serious pressure from both the dominant male population and from anxiety  parents.

This article relates and illustrates Edward Said’s theory of ‘orientalism’ and ‘the Other.’  Sandy To compares western ideals of marriage to that of the east’s: western societies have begun a modern shift towards a more progressive future for women who are applauded for their individualism in choosing to marry late, not marry at all, or fill a non-traditional form of the marriage model.  Western women are, therefore, “independent” and “liberated.”  In contradiction to these western cultures, To states that several eastern societies, such as Chinese society, expect women to marry at young ages (between 18 and 27), to settle down and assume their wifely obligations.  Women who are above the age of 27 who are successful in the workforce, financially stable and independent, are considered undesirable to Chinese men, stigmatized by the media, and blamed for their inability to get hitched….because apparently they have “overly high expectations for marriage partners.”

Why is this happening in China and how long will it continue?

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