One might not want to be a young working woman in China. You may ask why? Well, for the mere reason that the state itself demeans their women’s abilities and aspirations to go out and work. Women in China if opt to be ambitious, independent, unmarried and working are termed as ‘Leftover Women’. Sheng Nu in Chinese is a term used for women who surpass a “marriageable age” and instead choose to develop their own personalities by paying their own bills and maintaining themselves.
The term was first used in 2007 by a supposedly state feminist organisation All-China Women’s Federation in their articles. The All-China Women’s Federation was started by the Communist Party of China in 1949. It is ironical that they published articles like “Eight Simple Moves to Escape the Leftover Women Trap” and “Do Leftover Women Really Deserve Our Sympathy?” reports N Y Times. Calling themselves feminist, this is what they believed educated and working Chinese women were all about. Like trapping men and being sympathetic to independent, but unmarried women.
In China, women may have degrees from one of the top universities, high-flown career opportunities right at their toes, but such women are also looked down upon by the state. Independent women start feeling nervous as they turn over 25 as the society stigmatize these women as worrisome for being unmarried.
“Huang is a confident, personable young woman with a good salary, her own apartment, an MA 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. She feels pressure from her friends and her family, and the message gets hammered in by China’s state-run media too,” states BBC about an interview with a Chinese woman who was turning 29 the next day.
Statistics say that currently there are 20 million more men in China than women and the gap is only increasing. This is because of the sex-selective abortions that started taking place after China’s one-child policy to control over population in the country. Currently, China has one fifth of its women who are career-driven yet unmarried. China has a cultural scenario where men “marry down” to a woman. In this case a man will only marry a woman who is lower to him in status and capabilities. But the millennial females are not ready to settle now for anything but the best qualities in men.
Is it wrong to demand for women when men have done the same for generations? And the Chinese scenario does not differ a lot from our own Indian. The term may not be used publically, but career-oriented unmarried women become a sort of tension for her parents and the society. The society itself starts looking at such women with questioning eyes. And more often and not it’s the woman who has to face the brunt of it. While for men it’s absolutely okay to marry according to their own terms.
Picture Credit- The Guardian