Leftover women: a different perspective


Much has been written and said about so-called leftover women in China; there have even been some documentaries made about the phenomenon.

It’s not a new subject, but one which seems to stir a variety of emotions—and one which can be looked at from two quite different perspectives: both the local view point and from a foreigner’s angle.

For those who don’t know, the term generally refers to Chinese women who attain the age of 27 and are still not married or don’t have a steady boyfriend in tow to whom they may become betrothed. It’s often a major issue for such women but, more particularly, for their parents who try all they can to have their daughter married off before they reach this magic age!

Many local men shy away from dating Chinese women once they reach 27, assuming that there is something amiss and that a normal women would have been married and possibly had at least one child by then.

Now, there are many reasons why some Chinese girls do not marry before they are 27, some elective and some a result of their own personal circumstances or preferences; yet, in any event, parental pressure to date or marry can be intense. Indeed, a micro industry has grown up on-line to cater for such women by supplying temporary or part-time boyfriends to show off and introduce to and appease the family, especially at certain times of year such as the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year.

Despite this deeply engrained tradition, with more and more foreign men looking to study Mandarin Chinese in the country, seeking employment or being posted to China, it may well be that the prospects for many of these leftover women is brighter than it has even been.

Why we would we say this?

Well, perhaps it’s due to a difference in cultures between that of many foreigners and local people in China; perhaps other factors come into play. Whatever the reason, we have observed differences between the way many foreign men, especially those looking forward to dating Asian women, will consider Chinese leftover women.

To most foreigners:

  • age is not a key factor when they are first interested in or attracted to a woman; whether she is 21 , 27 or 35 is not always so important;
  • this characteristic is very attractive: many leftover women have spent their early 20’s studying for and getting Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees, at the cost of missing out on getting married—in short, they are highly qualified women;
  • it is appealing to have an Asian bride who is not only a highly qualified woman but who will also likely be very motivated and keen on pursuing an independent, successful career;
  • it is not a negative to have a woman who is on par academically or even has a better career than himself;
  • do not see 27 to as an impediment to dating Asian women but rather view it a plus, partly in view of the expectation that a lady around 30 is likely to be more mature; when many foreigners meet Asian women, certainly when they are in their teens and into their early twenties, they appear relatively immature in their likes (think about their love of Hello Kitty or other cartoon characters) and/or general behaviour

So, whilst leftover women may be forever disheartened by the lack of interest in them by local men, there is still the (growing) opportunity to find a foreign man to cherish and love them…

Do you know anybody in this sort of situation?

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