If there’s still any doubt that Chinese women have reached the top, just look at all the attempts to bring them back down. Successful and independent women of China have been labeled sheng nu; they have been accused of having standards that are too high and of being too materialistic and selfish. They have been misrepresented in the media.
Such is the price they are made to pay for striving for more. In a society which has always preferred its sons over its daughters, such attitude toward the increased autonomy and the social and economic progress of women is not surprising at all.
It makes one think: are all the efforts to bring modern Chinese women down and to reign them in instigated by men? Perhaps not all of them; it is very likely that many traditional women of China also disapprove of the drive of their modern counterparts to step out of their traditional gender roles.
The opposition, aka the greater Chinese society, states that these women, or the "sheng nu," represent a fear of taking things too permissively: appreciating career while discounting the continuation of a family lineage, seeking independence while forgetting the biological motherly duty, fulfilling individual desires while not caring about the stability of the society as a whole” (Source: http://thinkingchinese.com/sheng-nu-leftover-women-women-independence-social-disgrace).
For those who have been in a coma for the last year or so, the “sheng nu” (loosely translated as “leftover women”) are highly-independent, highly-educated, and highly-salaried Chinese women who are in their late 20s to their late 30s and are still single. You guessed it. Their supposed hopeless singlehood is attributed to their ambition to pursue masters’ degrees and even Ph.D.s, as well as financial and career successes.
They are often portrayed as women whose only priorities are work, money, comforts and luxuries, more work, and more money. They supposedly “wasted” their early 20s – that very narrow period in their life between their 22nd and 27th years – going after higher education degrees and career goals instead of seeking a husband.
Given that most Chinese men still follow the traditional hierarchy in mate selection – that is, alpha males choose beta females, and so on and so forth – some actually feel intimidated by these very successful women and believe that they may not be able to meet these women’s demands, while others’ egos simply will not let them be with a woman who has equal or much better success than they do.
Traditional Chinese women, as well as the older generations, are simply still resistant to the new realities that modern Chinese society are now facing; for them, anything different that goes against age-old customs and beliefs is simply unacceptable.
Certainly, for these modern Chinese women who are very self-sufficient, marriage is not as compelling as it used to be. They no longer feel the need to rush into marriage so that they can have a husband to support them and their parents financially.
If Chinese men had an ounce of sense and also used it, they would appreciate the value of being with a woman who does not only want them for their money. They would also be grateful that they can have a partner with whom they can work side by side to create a good life, a partner who will not only be helpful at home but who can also share the family’s financial responsibilities.
There is still, of course, the issue of age. By the time these women are ready to settle down, and have more to contribute to the marriage, they are past the maximum ideal marrying age for women. But is it really so bad to be with a 28- or a 29-year-old, or even a thirty-something woman, that these men would rather be bachelors for life?
Unless, of course, their preference for younger women is more about being with someone they can have more control over than anything else; if this is the case, then they would deserve to grow old alone.
These Chinese women on top, despite the efforts of mainstream Chinese society to bring them down, refuse to give in to pressure and to allow themselves to be manipulated into submission. So they become “leftover women.” That’s alright; if being leftover means they can marry their Mr. Right and have a marriage of love, loyalty, and respect, then it’s not as awful a status as it is being made to be.
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