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Leftover at 27?
February 21, 2013 8:17 AM   Subscribe

BBC/NRI reports that women in China are being labeled "sheng nu" or "leftover women" after the age of 27. Beyond the traditional family pressure to get married, the Chinese government is applying pressure on single women to get married, fearful that a growing population of single men could cause civil unrest.

Pretty girls don’t need a lot of education to marry into a rich and powerful family, but girls with an average or ugly appearance will find it difficult. These kinds of girls hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is, they don’t realize that as women age, they are worth less and less, so by the time they get their M.A. or Ph.D., they are already old, like yellowed pearls. (Link - NYT)

There are also several categories of leftover women:

25 to 27 years - "leftover fighters,” sheng dou shi
28 to 30-years - “the ones who must triumph,” bi sheng ke
35 and older - “master class of leftover women", qi tian da sheng

Business Week reports on why you don't want to be a single woman in China. CBS short video on the plight of being a picky woman.

It's the subject of much discussion on the Women's Federation website and some of the advice given is rather odd:

And once a “leftover” woman finds marital bliss, what should she do if her husband has an affair?

The Women’s Federation comes to the rescue, with the headline, “Faced With A Marital Crisis, Women Need to Improve Themselves”:

When you find out that he is having an affair, you may be in a towering rage, but you must know that if you make a fuss, you are denying the man “face” ... No man is capable of spending a lifetime being loyal to an outmoded wife who never changes ... Try changing your hairstyle or your fashion. Women must constantly change for the better.
posted by arcticseal (57 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
China has a long, long way to go before they can have an anti-establisment movement that empowers individuals. It was only 40 or 50 years ago that this was being said about American women. My mother was told at her wedding (she was 25) by her grandmother that she was so relieved that she wasn't going to end up an "old maid" as everyone was speculating!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:22 AM on February 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


When in doubt, blame women for your problems. Works for messed-up individuals, messed-up religions AND messed-up nation-states!
posted by emjaybee at 8:24 AM on February 21, 2013 [39 favorites]


This FPP works pretty well when you substitute "Hollywood" for "China". Try it!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2013 [16 favorites]


"...the Hollywood government is applying pressure on single women to get married, fearful that a growing population of single men could cause civil unrest"

what fresh hell is this
posted by griphus at 8:30 AM on February 21, 2013 [50 favorites]


Are Chinese women really buying this party line? I mean, they must know the demographics are very much in their favour in terms of finding a partner, that they can take their damn time finishing their educations and working on their careers and doing whatever else they want to do and still have their pick from the giant pool of men who weren't able to find partners.
posted by orange swan at 8:31 AM on February 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


If a woman is single it isn't always because she's the picky one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on February 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Are Chinese women really buying into this?
Not so much, in my experience. The read-between-the-lines of the phenomenon is how many younger Chinese women are making choices that don't conform to stereotypical expectations, and I can think of several friends from both working class and more privileged backgrounds who get (relatively) little pressure in this regard from their families either. By which I mean, this is the moribund state institutions once again trailing some way behind changing social conditions.
That's anecdotal and probably a bit optimistic and the subject has a lot more depth of course, but put that out there for now.
posted by Abiezer at 8:41 AM on February 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


I feel for the poor Chinese men, their parents, and the CPC. To have to marry beautiful, mature and well-educated women must be worse than living in hell. Isn't there a biotech company in Shenzen that can start looking into the production of women? You're telling me we can build an skyscraper in two weeks but can get a fair, young wife because women these days want an education and being treated as first-class citizens?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:45 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and still have their pick from the giant pool of men who weren't able to find partners.

Well, that giant pool will be mostly full of people who do not subscribe to certain cultural pressures, for better or worse. So while a woman may be picking from a pool where the "punk rock! fuck the man! let's get educated!" men are found, it's also the pool of men where the misfits, ne'er-do-wells, socially awkward, and closeted are concentrated as well. It sounds like the classic "the odds are good, but the goods are odd" scenario. If you're a woman who is Traditional about dating and relationships in all ways but the specific one trying to control how and when you're getting married, that pool of men who weren't able to find partners isn't exactly a goldmine.
posted by griphus at 8:46 AM on February 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Honestly, the actual articles make it sound like women are gaining power and choices and there's a lot of cultural pushback, but the power and choices are nonetheless real. I suspect that a lot of government rhetoric about leftover women is rooted in fear that women will be happy being "leftover", or will accept marrying later and making atypical choices about partners or children, or will marry foreign men.

I suspect that this is very much about region and work - a young, college-educated Shanghainese woman's life is going to be insanely different from a factory worker in a free trade zone or a peasant woman in the interior, or hell, even an educated young woman in an interior industrial city. Some women are gaining power and choices; others not so much.

And then I also wonder about lesbian and queer women or women with other reasons not to marry men. Anyone would think from this sort of article that the only reason you'd have not to marry is that you can't find a male partner - and no matter how closeted you may need to be to live as a queer woman in China, that doesn't mean that queer women don't exist. I bet there's some of these girls who are thinking that all this leftover women/women can have standards now stuff is a great cover.

If I were a young woman in China right now, I'd be worrying about some kind of actual legal push to force women into marriage - probably not the You Must Marry By Twenty Seven Or Be Auctioned Off To Peasant Men From Far Away law, but some more subtle legal sanction. I mean, that certainly seems like it would be right up the alley of the Chinese state, given their gender politics and their usual approaches to insuring stability.

When I was working in Shanghai in the late nineties, I knew this very beautiful and talented young woman in her late twenties who had actually divorced an abusive husband and was raising her daughter by herself - and even in Shanghai, which is a pretty darn sophisticated and progressive city, she faced a crazy amount of social sanction and rejection. It was the strangest thing in the world to see this beautiful girl who had a good job, someone who would be able to date and marry almost anyone she liked if she were living elsewhere, face all this social rejection and what she felt sure was a future of singleness and solitude.
posted by Frowner at 8:49 AM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I was visiting China, my best friend (an asian who was also an Asian Studies major at Harvard) explained to me how dating typically works there. It was one of the most depressing and mercenary things I have ever heard (and I'm a fairly cynical and transactional person, so please understand that this is setting the bar pretty high). I guess what I'm saying is that it's kind of hard for me to register surprise at seeing yet another act of lunacy in the asylum.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:05 AM on February 21, 2013


Apparently Japan went through something similar (minus the skewed sex ratios coming out of China's one-child policy and illegal sex-selective abortion) a few decades ago; I recall that the Japanese phrase for women unmarried after the age of 25 translated as something like “leftover Christmas cake”.
posted by acb at 9:11 AM on February 21, 2013


28 to 30-years - “the ones who must triumph,” bi sheng ke

I'm thinking superhero team.
posted by Zed at 9:16 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this kind of sucks but having a working class that reproduces is a huge problem given aging Chinese population. The rationale behind it coincides with a new government and gradual progress towards reforming the One-Child Policy. Compare this to the US, factor in the doomsday worry about Social Security and Medicaid, and multiply that by a few dozen times and you'll sort of get an idea of why there is such a push not to become Japan. It does, however, illuminate the idea that their respective governments don't understand that women who aren't empowered by the state or culture find other, older means of agency through consumption and education and that the latter has an effect of delaying childbirth. There's an article in Foreign Policy about the 'sheng nu' phenomenon that sort of argues for this interpretation.
posted by dubusadus at 9:25 AM on February 21, 2013


Isn't there a biotech company in Shenzen that can start looking into the production of women? You're telling me we can build an skyscraper in two weeks but can get a fair, young wife because women these days want an education and being treated as first-class citizens?

Who needs biotech when there are thousands of hot, young, loyal, chaste, lean, and hungry North Korean women dying to get over the border?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:25 AM on February 21, 2013


fearful that a growing population of single men could cause civil unrest

Yeah, no shit, sherlock. Good luck with that one.

China has a long, long way to go before they can have an anti-establisment movement that empowers individuals.

China has a lot of people. Things can change quickly.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:25 AM on February 21, 2013


"Civil unrest?"

Being 31 and single, I barely want to get out of bed in the morning to go to my temp job.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:27 AM on February 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


China has a lot of people.

Like America, China has a lot of people that either don't see a problem with the current system or alternately wish it would tighten up and get back to conservative "family values". What they don't have are a lot of people (by Chinese standards of "a lot") that are actual social progressives.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:29 AM on February 21, 2013


China has a long, long way to go before they can have an anti-establisment movement that empowers individuals.

I guess I want to add that China has had all kinds of mass movements that empower individuals, from the awful and scary (the Cultural Revolution, which really did diffuse a lot of power in many ways) to labor organizing, women's rights movements, literary and cultural movements and mass uprisings like the Boxer Rebellion and the Taiping. Think about impressive figures like Lu Xun, or even Mao when he was working with the peasants in the what, late twenties? China not only has a long history, but it's been very "modern" in many ways for a long, long time.

(I read a book called Rickshaw Beijing: City People and Politics in the 20s a few years ago that was very interesting on this. And Christopher Isherwood and WH Auden's writing about their travels in China also.)

I think it's easy to fall into this idea of China as this big, nouveau riche, authoritarian country that has no history of being modern prior to, like, the eighties.
posted by Frowner at 9:31 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, yeah, the civil unrest in these sort of matters can be widespread and horrible, as China's neighbors are finding out. It's a serious, dangerous thing and it is totally understandable why China would want to keep it from happening.
posted by griphus at 9:32 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


China has a long, long way to go before they can have an anti-establisment movement that empowers individuals.

And there's a lot of labor organizing and environmental stuff going on in China, or so I hear. Plus, of course, let's remember back to Tian An Men - that was not just Beijing, it was in cities all over. (Shanghai actually was not violently repressed - so I heard from a Shanghainese friend - because Beijing is always just a little bit afraid of Shanghai, which is rich and strong and has a firm self-identity in opposition to the capital.)

I mean, god knows I loathe all that sexist crap and I saw it take its toll on students and friends, but China isn't some backwards spectacle.
posted by Frowner at 9:34 AM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I was visiting China, my best friend (an asian who was also an Asian Studies major at Harvard) explained to me how dating typically works there. It was one of the most depressing and mercenary things I have ever heard

wolfdreams01, care to explain?
posted by zug at 9:38 AM on February 21, 2013


And there's a lot of labor organizing and environmental stuff going on in China

Those movements have a more direct group-oriented motivation with individual uplift as a by-product, whereas shaming women is more the opposite. The individual is oppressed in order to prevent change to the group. In other words, if women move out of their socially defined role, there could be big (perceived as negative) changes, therefore the group must shame those that do step out into submission or ostracization.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:46 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's easy to fall into this idea of China as this big, nouveau riche, authoritarian country that has no history of being modern prior to, like, the eighties.

China has a long, long history of being occasionally nouveau riche and authoritarian with some ajustments at the top in the name of "reform", that's what happens at the beginning of new dynasties, the Mao Dynasty being no exception. That doesn't make it backwards or a spectacle, it's just what it is.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:51 AM on February 21, 2013


China has a long, long way to go before they can have an anti-establisment movement that empowers individuals.

What, you mean like the creation of a civil society, the development of administrative law, or reforming the hukou?

China has a long, long history of being occasionally nouveau riche and authoritarian with some ajustments at the top in the name of "reform", that's what happens at the beginning of new dynasties, the Mao Dynasty being no exception.

Dynasties are typically called 'Dynasties' because they adhere to Confucian legalism and the Mandate of Heaven, neither of which play any role in the modern Chinese state unless, of course, you stretch your metaphor beyond taste. Yours is the kind of specious argument that would have China seem antiquated and outmoded, like some exotic locale from the past. China has a long history of having a huge population, a large scholarly class, and a well-supported network of merchants, none of which are traits inherent in dynasties.
posted by dubusadus at 9:56 AM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


China has a long, long history of being occasionally nouveau riche and authoritarian with some ajustments at the top in the name of "reform",

See, I think this is a description that could apply to pretty much any "modern" state - it could certainly characterize the Harding administration or the first Roosevelt administration if you simply take it as a generality.

I mean, I speak as a white Westerner, so I'm mostly thinking about the discourse about China that I have encountered among Westerners - I have certainly talked to Chinese friends about history and government, but I'm not an authority on those matters.

I think it's fairly tricky to talk about China while both holding onto a strong sense of China's long, long history and avoiding falling into orientalist cliche. Like, obviously there are continuities between the imperial system and the contemporary system - how could there not be? Where would the contemporary system have come from, out of the sky? And the Chinese state faces a similar set of problems now to those it's faced since the late 19th century, so of course there's going to be overlap in concerns, rhetoric and strategies. Just like in the United States.

It seems really easy to talk about China as if it were not just a unique-yet-complex-and-diverse place - like all places are! - but an exception. I don't think referring to the "Mao Dynasty" is particularly helpful, actually - "dynasty" is a word that doesn't get used much except in an orientalist context ("weary, exhausted, Very Old, corrupt, custom-bound East with all the culture and none of the drive") and I don't think it really captures some of the more interesting modernizing moments in imperial Chinese history (or the period between the end of the imperial system and communism, either). Perhaps we could just refer to "governments" or "the Chinese state" if we need to cover all of the ones China has had with one word?
posted by Frowner at 10:05 AM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


If I were a young woman in China right now, I'd be worrying about some kind of actual legal push to force women into marriage - probably not the You Must Marry By Twenty Seven Or Be Auctioned Off To Peasant Men From Far Away law, but some more subtle legal sanction. I mean, that certainly seems like it would be right up the alley of the Chinese state, given their gender politics and their usual approaches to insuring stability.

This is not much different from Western societies' traditional breeder subsidies where preferential treatment is given to middle class people who have families. You just notice when another culture coerces in a different way from what is the norm in your own. These normative coercions are right up the alley of every culture. In America it is almost always in the form of a tax break or less often these days a service provision.
posted by srboisvert at 10:26 AM on February 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


I recall that the Japanese phrase for women unmarried after the age of 25 translated as something like “leftover Christmas cake”.

I was just coming in to post that.

To spell it out, nobody wants Christmas cake after the 25th.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:27 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


nobody wants Christmas cake after the 25th.

Fruitcakes.
posted by benzenedream at 10:56 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


To spell it out, nobody wants Christmas cake after the 25th.

Except for the part where that's totally not true? Between the Christmas cake and Christmas pudding, there's way too much cake-like substance to be consumed on Christmas.
posted by hoyland at 11:02 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Excuse me. I keep seeing people say "China calls them..." or "Japan calls them..."

Please explain to me, which women are calling other women these names? Is a country's attitude about an issue to be defined solely from the locker room banter of the men?
posted by Goofyy at 11:20 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember reading an article back in the day which seriously stated that as a result of the skewing of sex ratios caused by abortion of female fetuses, women would be treasured and valued due to their relative scarcity and could pick and choose and make their own rules. That doesn't seem to be happening.
posted by jokeefe at 11:24 AM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Propaganda at its finest for naive ladies who cannot do the math:

Single Men > Single Women
(Under 15 years: 1.17 male(s)/female, specifically)

There are Leftover Men, not the other way around.

So fellas, you better gussy up, mind your manners, and treat the ladies real good if you don't want to be an old himster when you're over the hill at 27!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:30 AM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


fearful that a growing population of single men could cause civil unrest

I always assumed the plan was to get them into the army for when China next goes to war.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:37 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The proportion of unmarried men that age is higher - over a third. But that doesn't mean they will easily match up, since Chinese men tend to "marry down", both in terms of age and educational attainment.

Sounds like the "problem" isn't really with the women.
posted by jokeefe at 11:52 AM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm a year and change into my first LTR with a non-Jewish guy. My mother took a long, long time to be even outwardly okay about this, and I still have no idea how she really feels.

But one sign that she's (sort of) softening is a conversation my youngest sister reported to me. Said sister is 17, and was going to a school dance with a non-Jewish boy. My mother was not pleased about this.

Apparently, during the ensuing argument, my mother said "I mean, I could understand it if you were getting close to 30 and hadn't met anyone yet, but you've got plenty of time!"

My sister said, "Wait, are you talking about nonasuch?"

My mother changed the subject. I'm 27, for the record.
posted by nonasuch at 12:02 PM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Speaking as a 32-year-old woman:

30-35: Leftovers starting to smell. Ask the internet if they're okay to eat?

I should go shower.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:19 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Goofyy, "Christmas cake" is absolutely A Thing in Japanese women's culture (women say it, it's in women's magazines, etc.). Women's cultures operate in the context of the larger culture, but suggesting that women don't play an active role in reinforcing sexist expectations doesn't help address the issue.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:27 PM on February 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


"dynasty" is a word that doesn't get used much except in an orientalist context

Eh, don't think that's true. You may encounter references to the Chinese dynasties more frequently for whatever reason, but references to the Plantagenet dynasty or Merovingian dynasty and so on are pretty common.
posted by Justinian at 12:41 PM on February 21, 2013


References to the Mao Dynasty, when the Chinese government is tyrannical, but non-monarchical, definitely smack of orientalism.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is not much different from Western societies' traditional breeder subsidies where preferential treatment is given to middle class people who have families. You just notice when another culture coerces in a different way from what is the norm in your own.

through careful observation you may find that having a child in fact requires additional resources
posted by p3on at 1:09 PM on February 21, 2013


I suspect that a lot of government rhetoric about leftover women is rooted in fear that women will be happy being "leftover", or will accept marrying later and making atypical choices about partners or children, or will marry foreign men.

Actually, I suspect it may have something more to do with the fact that the army is the single most historically reliable way of absorbing a significant "excess" of young, single, marginally-employable men. So the Chinese leadership may have inadvertently backed themselves into a really dangerous position. By limiting families to one child and doing nothing to ameliorate Chinese society's strong preference for sons, they're starting to have a bunch of sons who aren't going to be able to settle down and start families. And I don't think there's anyone who believes that a large population of frustrated, marginally-employed young men is good for social stability.

The Chinese leadership doesn't really want to go to war with anyone. But they've already got a 2.2 million man standing army, and that may well grow significantly if men who are unable to marry are encouraged to join the army. Given how well the US has done in fielding a sizable standing army without actually using it very much, it appears that armies are like hammers insofar as that to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.

This is not a happy thought.
posted by valkyryn at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


I suspect that the push back against over-materialistic single women in China resembles earlier hand-wringing in Korea and Japan over women no longer automatically following the Good Wife Wise Mother path. Women's education is embraced as part of nation-building/national growth but woe to the woman who chooses to consume rather than reproduce.

South Korea also has a demographic imbalance that is panicking some observers. "Gold Miss" is the gussied up term for educated unmarried 30-something women in Korea (academic pdf).
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:57 PM on February 21, 2013


When I was visiting China, my best friend (an asian who was also an Asian Studies major at Harvard) explained to me how dating typically works there. It was one of the most depressing and mercenary things I have ever heard

wolfdreams01, care to explain?


I'll take a stab at this: Materialism and status-seeking are huge right now. As a man, if you don't own a condo and a car, many women will refuse to date you. Wealth and status are everything. As one dating show contestant famously put it, "I would rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle."
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:48 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Which is why I think the reading, as jokeefe above, of the tendency for Chinese men to "marry down" (I don't like that terminology but it is what was used) completely backwards. It isn't because that's what Chinese men are looking for, it's because there is such a glut of Chinese men that Chinese women have a relatively easy time "marrying up".
posted by Justinian at 4:07 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sidhedevil: Defining a problem helps. Snark doesn't. You might want to adjust attitude or something. So women "read it in a magazine". Oh, wow. Now, what problem, should be addressed first, a label given to unmarried women, or that women allow themselves to be defined by magazines, against their own best interests?
posted by Goofyy at 9:52 PM on February 21, 2013


Who could blame a Chinese woman for not wanting to get married and have kids? China still has a very traditional culture! Very traditional social expectations for women.

Look, I'm a white male American, I probably have more agency than anyone in the history of the world, and I don't even want to have kids. I don't even want to think about kids! The idea of being hitched to a plow like an ox, a yoke around my neck, forced to pull the plow day after day for the wife n' kids. The very thought makes me want to get a vasectomy. (thank god for the IUD)

So I could imagine how an educated Chinese woman must feel, to look at her friends who stayed in her hometown and got married and are saddled with drooling toddlers and families with very traditional values, she must look at that and think, "Hell no!" Could you blame her?

(and it turns out the IUD is ridiculously popular in China)
posted by Afroblanco at 11:24 PM on February 21, 2013


Goofyy: You really have little to no idea how ideas propagate within a culture, do you? Women write for women's magazines. They're just as much defining this as the men are - all members of a culture are responsible for the transmission of cultural forms. Things like magazines are not trivial. They are pervasive cultural texts. Look at how weight loss and body shape (both in terms of having the right slenderness and the right tits-and-ass ratio) permeate western magazines. By presenting a clear image of what a "right" woman is, and vilifying what a "wrong" woman is, so norms are re-enforced.

We tell stories to ourselves about how we want to be. Magazines are one way we do it. When the image and message is reproduced in every conceivable type of media, then the cumulative effect is pretty substantial.

Also "women" are not one big monolith. As the article states, there are plenty of women in China who are resisting that label in the face of rather a lot of pressure.

See also: Boundary maintenance.
posted by Jilder at 4:32 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


China still has a very traditional culture! Very traditional social expectations for women.

Look, I'm a white male American


... and presumably therefore an expert on Chinese gender relations?
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:13 AM on February 22, 2013


No, but I can understand why traditional roles wouldn't be attractive to somebody -- especially someone who would be even more constrained in those traditional roles than I.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:06 AM on February 22, 2013


What is your basis for stating that Chinese culture is 'very traditional' and has 'very traditional social expectations for women'? Do you believe that Chinese culture has improved over the past few decades with regards to the status of women? Percentage-wise, do you think there are more women in the US Congress, or in the People's Congress?
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:55 AM on February 22, 2013


China in fact tends to score well in UN Gender equality measures compared to other East and South Asian nations, which is not to say it is doing any where near as well as it should.
posted by Abiezer at 9:44 AM on February 22, 2013


What is your basis for stating that Chinese culture is 'very traditional' and has 'very traditional social expectations for women'?

Mostly from talking to my Chinese friends. But I do realize that anecdote is not the plural of data. Also, my friends come from immigrant families, so perhaps that skews my impression.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:26 AM on February 22, 2013


1 under communism, goods eg housing were allocated to men, women were fired first etc, so no boy child & no husband = nothing quite often. Therefore continuing the 'women leave their family so it doesn't gain from having daughters' traditional practise, which is why it didn't die out with communism. Source: book 'my children my gold'. Admittedly...
2 many better off chinese now prefer girls, they are seen as more likely to look after their parents in old age (which, when 6 people rely on one person, is an important issue!) but that from what i've read doesn't apply in rural areas. I have both read accounts of rural girls being able to marry the richest local man and the poorest men being unmarried, and of girls being abducted, as in india, for forced marriage/ rape + housework slavery. Wasn't it on metafilter, that fascinating article about the tendencies of male & female dominated societies? Now i want to reread it.
3 China is a coast of huge rich cities (with homeless people etc too) and a huge hinterland the size of Europe plus Russia or something with deserts and villages... it is so far, and travel is so expensive - it's at Western prices after the exchange rate - a trip to another province is a rare expense or unaffordable for most Chinese, so local factors must be huge. Like different countries in some ways.
posted by maiamaia at 1:48 PM on February 22, 2013


While I agree wholeheartedly that the attitude of Chinese society is seriously out of whack for these career-minded women, I can't help but note that, at the end of the piece, they implied that these "forgotten women" are single because they are only interested in a male if he has money.

That attitude has been around as long as "wealth" has and it isn't exclusive to women (Chinese or otherwise) by any means.

I think it's a shame that more and more people on this planet view marriage as a mostly "business type" of arrangement. That's certainly nothing new, though, and I bet it would be easy to find similar examples of that behavior in the animal kingdom.

I must mention that I mean no ill will toward any segment of any population regarding this, and I'm not trying to find anyone at fault. The behavior just seems a little depressing to me, though.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:06 PM on February 23, 2013


I think it's a shame that more and more people on this planet view marriage as a mostly "business type" of arrangement.

Isn't this backwards? I mean, historically speaking isn't viewing marriage as primarily a love match the anomaly, not viewing it as at least in large part a dynastic or business arrangement?
posted by Justinian at 12:17 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "I think it's a shame that more and more people on this planet view marriage as a mostly "business type" of arrangement.

Isn't this backwards? I mean, historically speaking isn't viewing marriage as primarily a love match the anomaly, not viewing it as at least in large part a dynastic or business arrangement?
"

Well, like I said, the business aspect of marriage is certainly not a new attitude. Maybe Hollywood's "rom com" propaganda has gotten the better of me.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:39 PM on February 24, 2013


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