- Millions of women say they have been thrown on the scrap heap
- Chinese government worries that unmarried men could cause social havoc
By PETER SIMPSON
PUBLISHED: 09:04 EST, 21 February 2013 | UPDATED: 06:10 EST, 28 February 2013
China has upset its young female population by labelling those who fail to marry by the time they are 30 as ‘left over woman’.
The Communist government ordered its feminist All-China Women’s Federation to use the derogatory term in several stinging articles about the growing number of educated, professional, urban and single females aged 27-30 who have ‘failed’ to find a husband and are now deemed ‘undesirable’.
‘Pretty girls do not need a lot of education to marry into a rich and powerful family. But girls with an average or ugly appearance will find it difficult,’ reads one article titled ‘Leftover Women Do Not Deserve Our Sympathy’.
The derogatory name has been picked up by the state media and stuck, causing an outcry among millions of ambitious young and educated females who claim they have been thrown on the scrap heap – and who bemoan the low quality of suitors.
The conservative country is going under rapid changes with more women shunning tradition to wed and raise a family early.
But the government wants to shame them into marrying young to counter the growing and serious gender imbalance among the of 1.3 billion population.
Selective abortions because of the one-child policy means far more males are born then females – 118 boys to 100 girls.
The government is also worried hordes of unmarried men roaming the country could spark social havoc.
Leta Hong-Fincher, an American academic studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said: ‘Since 2007, the state media has aggressively disseminated the left over term in surveys, and news reports, and columns, and cartoons and pictures, basically stigmatising educated women over the age of 27 or 30 who are still single.’
And census figures show that around one in five women aged 25-29 is unmarried.
The proportion of unmarried males that age is over a third higher – but Chinese men tend to ‘marry down’ both in terms of age and educational attainment.
‘LEFT OVERS': THE MALE VIEW
Nine out of 10 men in China think women should get married before 27
Sixty per cent say the ideal time is 25-27
One per cent believe the best age for a woman to get married is 31-35
‘There is an opinion that A-quality guys will find B-quality women, B-quality guys will find C-quality women, and C-quality men will find D-quality women,’ Huang Yuanyuan, a confident and single 29-year-old who works in a Beijing radio station, told the BBC.
‘The people left are A-quality women and D-quality men,’ she said.
But the Chinese Bridget Joneses are fighting back, demanding the government ban the ‘left over women term.
The All-China Federation of Women has recently dropped the label and now refers to ‘old’ unmarried women – but the left over expression remains widely used elsewhere.