Sin­gle women de­serve more re­spect in China

Global Times - Weekend - - OPINION - By Liu Jianxi

Spring Fes­ti­val was a tor­ture for me, a sad truth that I have to ad­mit. “When will you be mar­ried?” haunted me all the way through the eight-day hol­i­day. Sin­gle at 25, I am urged to “catch” the right man as early as pos­si­ble or be re­garded as a “left­over” woman in most of my rel­a­tives’ eyes, a term, I be­lieve, is dis­crim­i­na­tive against fe­males.

Ex­plain­ing my re­la­tion­ship sta­tus to my “warm­hearted” aun­ties was part of my daily rou­tine. “Men will be­come more at­trac­tive as they age, but fe­males won’t. This is the way it is.” “I gave birth to two ba­bies when I was your age. You should put your mar­riage at the top of your agenda. Oth­er­wise, you will be laughed at by oth­ers if you are still alone af­ter 25.” “Spend more time dat­ing. Be­lieve me, this is for your own good.” Th­ese car­ing words bom­barded me from the first day of the hol­i­day to the last. My rel­a­tives were so anx­ious about my mar­riage, and it seems that be­ing “left­over” at 25 is some­thing that I should be em­bar­rassed about.

Hon­estly speak­ing, I en­joy the sta­tus of be­ing sin­gle. Ev­ery time I look through my col­leagues’ tweets and pho­tos about their post-mar­riage life on­line, I feel happy to be “left­over.” Un­like my mar­ried friends who are buried un­der piles of house­hold chores, baby-re­lated tasks and te­dious mar­i­tal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, I am de­lighted to spend my time on read­ing, shop­ping, trav­el­ing and what­ever cap­tures my in­ter­est. For me, be­ing sin­gle means more time and free­dom. Not shack­led by mar­i­tal obli­ga­tions, “left­over” women, with daily work­outs at the gym, read­ing two books a week and tak­ing one trip a month, some­times have a bet­ter qual­ity of life than their mar­ried coun­ter­parts. Why bother to “catch” a boyfriend to break the bal­ance of my life? In most cases, be­ing sin­gle can­not be equated with be­ing left­over.

More­over, mar­riage is a per­sonal choice that de­serves re­spect. Ev­ery­one has the free­dom and right to choose his/her way of life. How­ever, “left­over” women, es­pe­cially those over 25, are al­ways be­ing told by rel­a­tives, friends and even some me­dia out­lets to be ashamed of their sta­tus of be­ing sin­gle. To be frank, ev­ery time my rel­a­tives per­suade me to “catch” the right man, I do not feel com­fort­able or be­ing re­spected. I to­tally un­der­stand that my rel­a­tives just want me to be well-pro­tected and cared for by the right per­son, but my choice to stay sin­gle needs to be un­der­stood. I would feel more re­spected if my aun­ties show less con­cerns about my per­sonal life.

There is an­other in­ter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non that the term “left­over” is al­ways used for “women” rather than “men.” This is dis­crim­i­na­tion. For many old-fash­ioned Chi­nese, women in their 20s are at the op­ti­mal age for mar­riage as their looks is be­lieved to grad­u­ally fade away and their chances of get­ting mar­ried be­come smaller. But, men fol­low a to­tally op­po­site pat­tern – more pop­u­lar in their 40s, with sta­tus and wealth, than in their 20s, poor and strug­gling. There­fore, women should get them­selves mar­ried as early as pos­si­ble.

This may be true in the feu­dal times when men en­joy ab­so­lute power and wealth. But times have changed. Women now have equal sta­tus with, and can some­times ac­cu­mu­late more wealth than men. An eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent woman does not have to worry about whether she would be a left­over. Fe­males in their 40s, hav­ing seen much of the world, are some­times more ap­peal­ing than ig­no­rant lit­tle girls.

The term “left­over women” has been hyped up in re­cent years. While the whole so­ci­ety should show more tol­er­ance and re­spect to our per­sonal life, we need to be strong in the face of sus­pi­cions and dis­crim­i­na­tions as well. Be­ing sin­gle at 25 is noth­ing strange, a fact that so­ci­ety should ac­cept and re­spect.

Il­lus­tra­tions: Luo Xuan/GT

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