Societal view on single women in Asia
There is a derogatory term for unmarried women in China: ‘Leftover’ women. Almost as if the single women are like nearing their expiration date and should be thinking of ways to clear off the single’s rack.
A news channel in South Korea also highlighted the trend of increasing single women in South Korea. From 90,000 in the 80’s to more than 1 million single women in 2015.
Yes, almost as if I’m taking a societal exploratory journey to my singlehood, I have been watching Youtube videos that discuss the “singleness” of women.
From a country viewpoint, especially a country like China, whereby the male to female ratio is skewed towards the male gender due to the one-child policy enacted previously, having an increasing number of single women is not a good sign. A shrinking working population might adversely affect the efficiency and growth of a country.
Most developed countries are facing declining birth age and ageing population. To a certain extent, we could almost infer that childbirth is a way of national duty. You could see how governments in different countries are doling out incentives to encourage married couples to procreate.
The bizarre cultural and traditional state of women
Many historical years ago, women had few rights. They are “traded” in a loose sense. In China’s history, there was the horrendous practice of footbinding, in which the women toes were broken and bound tightly together such that the feet stayed around 4–5 inches.
Golden lotuses feet signified beauty and erotic appeal during that period. With feet so small and mobility severely restricted, women had little choices but to depend on their families or their spouses.
Torturous beauty practices were not unique to ancient China. Women wore restrictive corsets, oversized earlobes, lip plates and brass necks. Women in these tribes continue the traditional practices in order to attract a man for marriage.
The term leftover women do not sound as vilifying as it first is.
Back to women in modern developed countries
What about modern-day single female, quickly cruising towards middle-age with a biological clock ticking away?
Some women stay single because they truly enjoy it, or they miss the marriage train or a potential significant other. Others, simply couldn’t find someone they could pair off with. It could be that their standards are too high and too unrealistic, or that they are too occupied in life and not meeting enough potential dates.
Whatever the case it is, some women have made peace with the decision or the probability of not having a spouse or kids in their lives. Maybe a small portion of them, like me, rejoice in the fact of not having kids. The country and societal agenda are to tell us otherwise, rightfully so, in my opinion.
A country needs an optimal number of population growth, be it to slow it down or to hasten it. In developed countries like Korea and Singapore, it is obvious why there are many incentives and budget set aside to encourage larger families.
A large portion of society does believe that having a family is one way to happiness. Or perhaps deep down, there is a legacy obligation, or at the very least a biological design, to continue the family tree. Being social animals that depend greatly on communities to survive throughout our history, I do believe that having a family does hold the key to happiness to many people. It can be considered as one of the keys at least.
But there is no shame in admitting that being part of a family unit is not for everyone else as well. For people like that, it might be a blessing to stay single instead of dealing with the milestones of hers and her partner’s genetic creation.
The rights of women have come a long way. For all the freedom and societal mobility, it doesn’t matter if you are single, married, divorced or confused.
We, being modern-day women, are perhaps blessed, as long as we choose the path we rightfully and independently decide to undertake.