Monday, August 19, 2013

The Singleness Strain: An International Phenomenon

Did you know that in the past few years, the Chinese actually created a specific word to describe highly educated, professional single woman over the ages of 27?

It's called Sheng Nu...literally translated "leftover women."

But WHY? Why in a country where men significantly outnumber women?

It breaks my heart that this pattern of unwanted singleness for women is not just an American "epidemic"....

From what I've read, these women (enough in China to warrant an entire new word to describe their existence!) are NOT uber-controlling feminists. In fact, quite the opposite...they are very traditional. They are NOT shunning marriage. They desire marriage and even traditional gender roles (the man being the primary provider) but are not finding quality men who are making it happen.

I have some theories...most having to do with the passive nature of men and the fear/intimidation of said males to pursue educated and successful women (much longer post needed to digress on this particular point). But my other theory is that these girls are still (like many of us) are "in the waiting," patiently hoping for their princes and not taking matters into their own hands. Thus they watch the years pass by and the single season lengthen...

Again, it just breaks my heart. Especially since these girls live in a shame-based culture that puts the blame on THEM for not being married already. How awful to be made to feel guilty for not already "achieving" a deep heart's desire that you so desperately hope for? As I've said before here on VV, it's not like women have 100% control in this area. There is only so much we can do to "make it happen."

In putting the blame and guilt back on these single women, articles have surfaced with titles like "Don't Pity China's 'Leftover Women'" and "How China's 'Leftover Women' Are to Blame" in order to pressure "sheng nu" into lowering their standards and just "getting married already."

And statements like this (quoted in a BBC article) feel like a punch in the gut...

"'These girls hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is, they don't realise that as women age, they are worth less and less. So by the time they get their MA or PhD, they are already old - like yellowed pearls.'"

(p.s. I am shocked that that was even put in print!)

This whole thing hearkens back to the timeless dilemma of whether or not a smart woman should "dumb herself down" in order to catch a guy's eye.

Ugh. Are we STILL doing that? Really?

It is not feminism to say that a woman should be herself and express her "girl power" (infamous 90's references again...). In fact, this is BIBLICAL. From a Christian perspective, women need to have their identities founded in Christ (not what men or society think of them) and also be good stewards of the gifts, talents and brains God gave them. To not do so is to "bury our talents" and miss out on the "Well done!" from our Master. Single women...we must make the most of what we've been given!

So, allow me to say, Rock on Chinese single girls! You are NOT leftovers. Don't give in to the pressure. Jesus will provide what you need (even when society tells you to settle)!

After all, wasn't the Proverbs 31 gal a classy, generous, hard-working business woman? She is the very picture of Biblical womanhood.

Here's to all the single girls living that out around the world. Without shame...

1 comment:

  1. I'm tempted to call this a "comedy of errors", but there's nothing at all funny about it. Truth is, there are a bunch of ugly facts at its core, including forced abortion and the Chinese culture favoring sons more than girls in the family--which is also the case in India and other third-world countries.

    Whether or not it is still true in Ireland, I don't know; but I was told by a missionary who served there for many years that (at least in some areas) girls were treated poorly compared to boys. Very frustrating and sad that these women are marginalized and not loved and valued as they should be!

    Of course, it begs the question: what are all the Chinese men doing to counter the fact that there are so few women in number (and who are being so overtly rejected)? Maybe I shouldn't ask...