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China's 'leftover women' phenomenon arouses heated debate in West

(People's Daily Online)

15:33, February 26, 2013

(File Photo)

The BBC published an article about China's "leftover women" on its website on Feb. 20. According to the article, educated women over the age of 27 or 30 who are still single are labeled as "leftover women" in China. While under considerable pressure from their family and society, some "leftover women" are happy being single. The article has received nearly 700 comments made by netizens from various countries. Many Asian netizens said they felt the same way, but certain Western netizens consider the expression "leftover women" as a reflection of male chauvinism in China. A male netizen even joked that he regained confidence to achieve his dream of becoming a husband by marring a Chinese "leftover woman."

Western netizens do not understand why there is such a sexist expression

The BBC correspondent who wrote the article interviewed Huang Yuanyuan, a female radio news editor who will be 29 years old this year. She is well-educated and has a good salary, but she is still single. According to the article, census figures for China show that around one in five women aged 25-29 is unmarried. The proportion of unmarried men at that age is higher – over a third, but that does not mean they will easily match up, since Chinese men tend to "marry below", both in terms of age and educational skills.

The author found a Chinese article titled "Leftover Women Do Not Deserve Our Sympathy," which said that girls with an average or ugly appearance hope to continue studying in order to increase their competitiveness. "The tragedy is, they do not realize that as women get older, they are worth less and less. So by the time they get their Master´s Degree or PhD, they are already old like yellowed pearls," according to the Chinese article.

A female American netizen said angrily that she cannot accept the label "leftover woman." "Women over 27, 30 or older are considered to be worth less than their younger counterparts. I understand that Chinese and American cultures are very different, but this petty and juvenile attitude should be extinguished," she said. Another netizen joked, "This article gives me hope that I may soon fulfill my adulthood dream of marrying an intelligent, financially independent, emotionally secure, non-overweight woman who will not look down on my aspirations to become a husband. All I need to do now is learn to speak mandarin and move to China."

Asian netizens feel the same way

Compared with Westerners, most Asian netizens, particularly female netizens, said they felt the same way.

"In the 1980s, when I lived in Japan, unmarried women older than 25 were called Christmas Cakes. Who wants a Christmas cake after the 25th of December? Now the average age of marriage is significantly older. However, it is not age but the effort of raising children that has resulted in Japanese women having 1.4 children on average," said a Japanese netizen.

"It is very sad indeed! It is the same here in Korea, only that the age limit here is 30. Many women rush to get married before they reach 30 for fear of being 'left on the shelf.' It is no wonder the divorce rate is so high." said a South Korean netizen.

"There is a similar case in India too – a class of highly educated, independent age 27+ women who choose to live a more liberated life and put their talent/skill to good use in society. People must make their own choices and must simply refuse others' labels and be blissfully happy," said an Indian netizen.

According to a United Nations survey, 74 percent of British women aged 25-29 were single in 2012. It is over 70 percent in Japan and nearly 50 percent in the United States. The percentage is rather low in China and India. The survey result seems to verify netizens' comments. However, certain netizens believe that the problem of "leftover women" is not unique to China or Asia.

Read the Chinese version:中国"剩女"现象引热议 国外网友称欲学中文来中国
; Source:

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:HuangJin、Chen Lidan)

Leave your comment5 comments

  1. Name

fausto at 2013-03-182.33.106.*
l will be very happy to know, court and eventually get married with a so-called nice "leftover" chines lady... it will be a privilege to me have a chance to get in touch with such lovely chinese ladies 25 30 yo ...who might be interested pls contact me
Dustin at 2013-03-0567.188.44.*
I"ve read that some areas of China, due to social pressure, have an a higher number of males births than females births. It"s hard for me to believe that "leftover women" will have a hard time finding someone to marry, in a society that has more men than women.
thomas at 2013-02-28202.89.190.*
Its the term left over woman that make it provocative simply used the term women in their late thirties you will simply erase 80% of the problem.If woman want to marry late its their choice let respect their choice
Wunhunglo at 2013-02-27198.49.222.*
Pretty sad that China discriminates like this. These women should be cherished!
Jack Hunter, USA at 2013-02-2775.180.17.*
Send them over here, we'll take 'em. Jack Hunter, USA

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