Single Chinese Women Fight “Leftover” Label

by Solange Castellar

While some Chinese women like property tycoon, Zhang Xin, are huge financial successes, many Chinese women are still undervalued and under threat, as CNN reports.

According to Tsinghua University scholar Leta Hong Fincher, there has been a sudden emergence of the phrase, “leftover women.” The derogatory phrase normally refers to spoiled food, but in this case, it’s used for educated women who are still single over the age of 27.

It’s repulsive and horribly degrading to have scholarly women cast out for the fact that they’re neither married nor partnered. In 2007, the All China’s Women’s Federation defined the term “leftover women,” (which is also known as sheng nu), and as The New York Times cites, “China’s Ministry of Education added the term to its official lexicon” within the same year.

So how is it that the phrase spread like wildfire, defining and qualifying many women’s lifestyles during their late 20s? Well, we have some lovely media in China to thank for that.

Bestselling author, Joy Chen, says that it’s not just insulting to single women, but offensive to single men as well. “It basically says you’re legitimate to the extent that you’re married…The leftover label is everywhere in society,” says Chen.

In response, Hong Fincher says that the terminology for single gals is used as a government tactic to upgrade population quality, in order to promote “match-making.” The word choice is meant to either encourage or scare women into having children so that the government is more likely to meet demographic goals.

According to the China Statistics Bureau, China now approximately has 34 million more men than women. Wow, just wow.

Feminist activist, and former legislator/university professor, Wu Qing says that article 48 of the People’s Republic of China states, “women should enjoy equal rights in the economy, in politics, in everything.” Wu herself is known as one of China’s “leftover women,” and she speaks for women’s rights as a founder of a school geared towards empowering rural women.

I commend these three ladies who are taking a stand against this unpleasant, misogynistic phrase. Just because one is not married, does not give anyone the right to conflate her with decaying chow. That shizz is not right on any level, and I’m offended that women have to undergo that type of scrutiny.

Thanks to CNN and The New York Times

Image via CNN

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