Let’s talk about how to weaken cultural conventions!
Or just how cultural conventions exist in China, regarding marrying and being a woman. Salon has a great piece up right now about the rise of Shengnu – accomplished, professionally successful women who are feeling intense pressure to marry before they hit 30. The name translates to “leftover woman”. Salon explains:
In China, there’s a deep-seated tradition of marriage hypergamy which mandates that a woman must marry up. This generally works out, as it allows the Chinese man to feel superior, and the woman to jump a social class or two, but it gets messy for highly accomplished females. Their educations and salaries make them hard to compete with, and so their Chinese male counterparts shy away in favor of younger, more “manageable” beauties.
So, women are pressured to marry someone more successful than them, while men have access to everyone of a comperable or lesser level of success. That sounds like… more fun for men. Wait! Wait! That’s how it works in the United States, too, kind of! (Think of men you know who have married their secretaries and no one has batted an eye).
However, the situation seems to come with bonus governmental pressure in China – perhaps because the one child policy (and preference towards males) has lead to an overabundance of men, which leads to concerns about an increase in prostitution, trafficking, and violent crime. The Communist Party sponsored All China Women’s Federation, published a breakdown on the types of “leftover women”:
Beginning at 25, it details how women must “fight” and “hunt” for a partner, so as not to wind up alone. By 28, it implies the heat is really on, telling women “they must triumph.” Between 31 and 35, these women are called “advanced leftovers,” and by 35, a single woman is the “ultimate” leftover. This woman has met great professional success, but like the Monkey King — to whom she is compared — she is flawed in thinking that she is higher than the mandate of heaven, which we can only assume is marriage.
God, it sounds really hard to be hunting with an eye towards triumph while still maintaining an eminently “manageable” personality (I’ve always felt that this was a problem with books like The Rules, too – after all those years of hunting and scheming and plotting to get the ring, doesn’t married life, with its hopeful absence of plotting, seem like it would be a tough transition?)
Anyhow, China ladies, this is for you: