Hypergamy Leading to Misery of Chinese Women

Well Hell’s Bells!

(HT: Vox Day at Alpha Game)

BEIJING — Feminists are concerned that some Chinese women in their late 20s who are doing well in their careers but are labeled “leftover women” for not having married yet, may be their own worst enemies.


“They are still living in a traditional mindset and values, even though there’s no way that those can solve their problem,” said Feng Yuan, a feminist and head of Beijing’s Anti-Domestic Violence Network, in a telephone interview. Other feminists agreed with her.

What is missing is a stronger awareness of the dynamics of gender, said Ms. Feng. “If they don’t gain gender consciousness then they can only rely on luck to solve their problem,” she said, meaning they can only hope to solve the problem if they meet a man who earns more than they do.

The other side of the coin is this: in China, thanks to the stupid “one child per family” law–compounded by the emphasis on having a male over a female, which incentivizes abortion–there are far more available men than there are available women. This is probably also contributing to the extra choosiness by the women, which–in turn–works against them as well as the men.

MrsLarijani and I noticed the same thing at her alma mater (Covenant College). A couple days before we got married, her college had a singles forum. Both sexes were well-represented (very much unlike my alma mater). Almost all of them were between ages 18-22. Almost all the women were at least moderately attractive. Every one of them wanted to be married. And yet there was little or no intentional pursuit going on.

I’ll bet I could have randomly paired each guy with a gal–tearing a page from Sun Myung Moon–and everyone who wanted to be married could have been married, and this would have resolved some of the anxiety on both sides.

One of the moderators–a graduate who was himself in extended singleness–did, to his credit, point out that the male students had a unique opportunity that they could not reasonably expect outside of college: a deluge of women. I gave him an earful afterward and told him to keep telling the guys that: it won’t get any easier.

“Shengnu,” or “leftover woman,” a term applied to China’s well-educated, unmarried women, has long been hurtful for those labeled in that way.

Recently, some have started to push back by swapping it for another word that is pronounced identically but is written differently in Chinese, and has a far more positive meaning: “shengnu,” or “victorious woman,” as I write in my Female Factor Letter today. (Some prefer to render that as “successful.”)

Yet despite the hurt, some women seem unaware that wanting a man to earn more, even when they themselves are equally well-educated and capable, may be working against them.

Zhou Wen, 27 and unmarried, is a secretary at an American marketing company in Beijing. She explained that it’s widely thought a man should earn more than a woman for the match to be right.

“Why aren’t girls prepared to marry a man who earns less? Because income represents your ability,” she said in a telephone interview.

“If you earn less it means you have less ability and no one wants to marry someone with less ability,” she said.

Why not be financially equal, sharing the rent and other living expenses?

“Most people think that equality isn’t just a question of 50-50 on bills,” she said.

“Male-female equality is about making men and women equal and if I contribute 50 percent of everything that doesn’t mean I’m equal,” she said. “Men should respect women, respect their ideas and ways of thinking, and not be the kind of person who says ‘everything a woman says is nonsense,’” she said. That said, she added: “I’m not opposed to going 50-50.”

I would not be so hard on the Chinese women in this case. While hypergamy is nothing new, there’s a lot more cultural emphasis on it over there. Compounding matters, these women are doing exactly what they have been pressed to do by their parents and society. Combine that with the poverty from which many families are now emerging, it’s easy to see how the women over there can get sucked into a proverbial death spiral.

Having said that, parents–on both sides of the Pacific–need to look long and hard at what they are teaching their children.

The fertility clock is not something invented by men. It is biological and it is what it is. Fact is, it peaks at about age 28.

If you graduate from college at age 22, your optimal fertility window is 6 years.

If you have not met your husband, that means you now have 6 optimal years during which to find a man, date, get serious about getting married, get hitched, and start working on having children.

During that time, if you date a guy and it doesn’t work out, you are back to square one.

After that 6-year period, you enter the sub-optimal phase, during which your best childbearing years are over, and your biological clock is in the 2-minute warning. Making matters worse, if you’re not careful, your peak attractiveness might also start slipping, and this could be a problem when you are competing with younger women for the same pool of men.

(Don’t start hating on me for saying that, because I didn’t create the reality; I’m just reporting it.)

Oh, and hypergamy doesn’t make this any easier.

Now I realize that a feminist can read this and conclude that I am against women getting an education and a career. In fact I have said nothing of the sort.

At the same time, going that route is going to require a level of prudence, planning, and purposeful action that cannot be taken for granted.

And society is behind the curve dealing with this problem.

China has the problem in spades, but it’s not exactly rosy over here either.

5 thoughts on “Hypergamy Leading to Misery of Chinese Women

  1. I think these women should just find foreign men. A woman who is considered “feminist” in China would probably be considered “slightly traditional,” “quaint,” or at the very worst, “average” by American standards. Being a feminist in China just means that you aren’t a complete doormat and you would like it if your potential husband listened to you or helped out with the housework from time to time.

    Also, have you noticed how young looking 27-29 year old Chinese women look? I used to have a coworker who I assumed was around my own age at the time (21 or 22). It turned out she was 29!!!!! I bet that if Chinese women came to countries where the local women age poorly, they would have until age 35 (instead of age 27 as it is in China) before they start to look old.

      • You know what would be awesome? If it were legal to deport fat, feminist shrews to China! I think that any Chinese man who complains about Chinese women being “too feminist” or “getting old at age 27” hasn’t met any 27 year old, fat, feminist American women! I wonder what they say about American women over a certain age over there…it certainly can’t be nice…

  2. i think it is so very hard for americans to understand cultures like the chinese whose ways and thought processes are steeped in hundreds of years of tradition. i have a few asian friends, and the drive and stamina and level of excellence their parents and culture expect from them is mind-boggling. there is much stress to be successful as they define success. and with this birth limit, the rolling consequences are profound. i’m a bit surprised those who implemented such a law did not have any foresight at all.

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