You might not know it, but Asian women are having problems getting married too. In the United States Chinese women have high rates of marriage and low rates of divorce. But just because Chinese women are having no problem getting hitched stateside doesn’t mean that this situation is the case everywhere. The ubiquity of the unmarried and child-free Chinese woman has become such a phenomenon that there is even a name for them–“leftover women“.
In China, the sexist term â€œleftover woman,â€ sheng nu, is widely used to describe an urban, professional female over the age of 27 who is still single. This derogatory term has been aggressively disseminated by the Chinese government, warning women that they will become spinsters if they do not marry by the time they turn 30. The irony of the media campaign is that Chinaâ€™s sex-ratio imbalance has resulted in a surplus of tens of millions of men who will not be able to find a bride.
Yep, that’s right. If you are an unmarried 30-year-old woman then you are a leftover. Forget making your status Facebook official, “leftover” is a term that is actually used by Chinese government officials.
How do you get leftover women in a country in which men outnumber women? While there are more men than women in China, many of the unmarried men are left in the countryside while the young, single, eager to marry women are in major cities. Thus, you have cities full of ambitious women looking for husbands, while the men that these women could marry are back home–and largely considered unmarriageable by the single Chinese women who inhabit cities.
Sixty-three percent of GMAT takers in China are women. China has the highest percentage of self-made female billionaires. Black women are getting college degrees at almost twice the rate of black men. Women–whether they are black, white, or Asian–seem to want to marry their equal, a partner. Black women feel as if they and the marital rates are under a microscope set up by the media. Chinese women are feeling pressured by their parents and the government to get married before being deemed too old.
Black women should not compare themselves to Asian women or covet the marital rates of Asian women to such an extent that their covetousness becomes a new type of “yellow” fever. Some people stereotype Asian women as being more demure or deferential than other types of women. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the major differences between different groups of women is due to culture. If you lived in a culture where males were valued more than females and a woman was officially deemed a leftover by the government then you might be in rush to get married too.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get married. But a woman should not be considered unworthy or invisible if she chooses not to get married or if despite her best attempts she never finds a man whom she wants to marry. Women are valuable as people, even if no one ever puts a ring on it.