Tuesday, May 13, 2014

China's Excess Women Problem

Didn't that headline shock you?  After all, what China has is the exact reverse of that: an excess men problem.  Indeed, the probable number of young men who will not be able to marry (at least within China and into a monogamous heterosexual marriage) is now around 32 million.

But the Chinese still have time to worry about the poor, poor educated women who will never be able to marry men above themselves in the societal hierarchy.  The Economist recently reviewed a book about China's return to worrying about uppity single women: Leftover Women:  The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China:

In 2007 China’s official Xinhua news agency published a commentary about women who were still unmarried at the age of 27 under the title, “Eight Simple Moves to Escape the Leftover Woman Trap”. The Communist Party had concluded that young Chinese women were becoming too picky and were over-focused on attaining the “three highs”: high education, professional status and income. Newspapers have since reprinted similar editorials. In 2011 one said: “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.”

If any of that sounds familiar to you, it might be because several conservative anti-feminists in the US write identical warnings to women:  Education and motherhood do not mix!  And NO! you cannot both go to school and have children!  Hurry up and marry before your eggs go all stale and smelly!

What's so mind-boggling about all that is the real problem in China, which is very much about the leftover men, not about any leftover women.  The upside-down focus on women as the sex with leftover bits really is just the death throes of patriarchy whining about the societal changes that are happening.   Or so I hope.