Editor’s note: This article, translated from sohu.com, is about the pressures that young single Chinese women face from society and their families to get married by a certain age. The article tells the story of Mrs. Chen and the lengths she is willing to go to to ensure that her daughter doesn’t become a Leftover Woman’.
As every year passes, we still have our families. However, for many parents, their single young adult offspring is a major source of worry. A few days ago, Mrs. Chen saw an advertisement in the newspaper and said that she decided to “throw caution to the wind,” and try to find a matchmaker to find her daughter a boyfriend. Mrs. Chen said that she will pay a matchmaker 100,000 Yuan if they are able to find a successful match for her daughter. However, Mrs. Chen’s family happens to be quite wealthy. Why is this successful businesswoman so desperate for find a match for her daughter?
Photo: Guian Bolisay
There are a large number of older leftover women, said Mrs. Chen earnestly. She said that she did not want her daughter to become one of these eternally single spinsters.
Yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Chen and I met in a coffee shop to chat. She had called me earlier and wanted to meet in order to “provide hard evidence so that people will understand that I am sincere and why I am anxious.”
Mrs. Chen had arrived to the coffee shop 20 minutes early. She was about 50 years old and wore a wide-brimmed hat, glasses, a black trench coat and suede boots. She carried an overflowing green handbag.
Because Mrs. Chen had customers to meet in the area in an hour or so, we skipped the small talk. She dove straight into the issue at hand. “Ah, there are no appropriate channels, it is so difficult,” she said. “It has already been days and days, another year has passed. I feel like I am just sitting and waiting for death. There isn’t anything I can do. So, I found you...”
Working for three years and no boyfriend: strong woman or leftover woman?
In fact, Mrs. Chen’s only daughter is not that old. She will be 25 this year. Mrs. Chen took an envelope from her pocket and pulled out a stack of pictures of her daughter. The girl in the photos is tall with a sweet smile. The pictures are natural and unposed. They are taken in a variety of settings: Hangzhou Botanical Garden, a park in Holland, a small town in Italy, Yellowstone National Park in the United States. In the photos, she has an easy-going laughing smile.
Mrs. Chen said that she herself is a businesswoman. To put it frankly, her family is quite well off. They may even be considered quite rich. However, it is often hard for these kinds of families to find a suitable partner for their children.
Mrs. Chen’s daughter Xiao Feng is very sensible. She listens to her parents. She grew up in Hangzhou and went abroad to travel and to study. While abroad, she studied foreign languages and still often works as a translator to earn money. She never let her parents take over her life, which left her parents free to worry about their own business that they were running.
Xiao Feng was admitted to Zhejiang University and was able to study a major of her choice. After graduation, she found a job that she enjoyed. Her father was very proud of his daughter and often called her a “shèngnǚ,” which in this instance means strong woman. Her mother heard this nickname and responded; “Our daughter cannot become a “shèngnǚ! (a “leftover” woman, a term that is pronounced the same)”. Mrs. Chen pointed out other “leftover” women that they knew include her husband’s business partner and her own little sister. If a daughter in a family is 31 years old and still single, if you ask about their partner they will sigh with lamentation, saying, “I still do not have one, I have become a leftover woman”, said Mrs. Chen
The question of marriage came up last week in their family. Mrs. Chen had heard her husband affectionately refer to their daughter as a shèngnǚ (strong woman). This made her very angry. She began to shout at her daughter that she was already 25 years old and asked her if she really wanted to become a “leftover” woman? Mrs. Chen continued to shout at her daughter. She said that she must take advantage of the time she has now and not use the business or the fact that she is busy as an excuse. In five years and five months her daughter will be over 30. She told her daughter she had to find a partner or else everyone will start to call her “old auntie.”
Mrs. Chen spoke in an excited voice, straightened herself up and lifted her face. She continuously tapped the armrest with her hand. Her voice rose an octave when she spoke next. She said that her daughter will soon be over 30 and really will turn into a “leftover woman.”
Business is easy, matchmaking is difficult
After finishing talking about her family, Mrs. Chen looked around and began to calm down. She moved a little in her seat and whispered, “Now, everyone says not to go into business, but in fact, business is very simple. It’s just like an arithmetic problem. There are differences and balances, you respect the contract and talk about money. You have to preserve good relationships and you cannot be tacky. However, finding a partner for my daughter is not the same. We understand what we want and have standards, but cannot say them bluntly. If you talk about money, talk about a good match, everyone will say that you are vulgar. Ah, how do we do it?”
She took out her daughter’s stack of certifications: Level 8 English, Level 2 Computer Certificate, as well as a variety of other qualifications.
“She has been a class monitor or leader from primary school to university. Her performance has always been good. People are very traditional, they told her it was always too early to have a boyfriend so she never had one. There was one boy that she really liked when she was in high school, but then she went to study in the United Kingdom. She has now graduated college and she seems to have no feelings towards any boys. She has worked for three years. She has been pursued a few times but did not have feelings towards any of them.” Mrs. Chen opened both her palms face up. She said in a depressed voice, “Next year, she’ll be 26.”
Mrs. Chen will pay successful matchmaker 100,000 Yuan honorarium
While Mrs. Chen spoke she took out two large paper bags. She said out of the side of her mouth, “For example, I want to show these real estate documents. I want to show that they are real. I’m not trying to show off our wealth, I do not want to make an individual comparison. Our family was able to make a lot of money, but now we come out nervously, wanting people to know that we also do not have it easy. We have spent a lot of money and energy trying to find a partner for our daughter. The best fit would be a man who has lived in a similar environment to her growing up. If they both have the same context, their differences will be small and happiness will be great.”
Mrs. Chen took out three more waterproof plastic bags. Each bag held documents or contracts. In total, she had six business contracts that had been fulfilled and 12 real estate certifications. Each property is located in the city center and each was more than 140 square meters. Her and her husband’s names are on all of the documents.
Finally, she pulled a trust contract out of one of the bags. The trust is for over 3 million Yuan. There is also a loan contract with another huge amount. The creditor is Mrs. Chen herself.
“So, why reveal my family’s background?” said Mrs. Chen. She is not part of a listed company and has not disclosed her wealth before. She said that she is doing it for her daughter and has decided to throw caution to the wind. She has fought, working hard for over 20 years and has been able to employ a number of good people in steady jobs. She said that one must have a moderate attitude towards wealth. There are a lot of people in Hangzhou that are wealthier than her but, like her, do not show it off in public.
“I am not high-profile. My daughter is also this kind of person. Her car costs less than 200,000 Yuan and she often takes the subway and buses. She dresses in ordinary clothes and does not buy luxury goods abroad.
In addition to revealing her family properties, Mrs. Chen said that if someone was able to recommend a suitable match for her daughter and her daughter ended up marrying the man she was willing to give 100,000 Yuan red envelope as a present.
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Keywords: matchmaker for daughter leftover woman pressure to marry China
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Terrible, the way the parents are afraid to loose their own face and the way they put pressure on their daughter. Probably the daughter is just too open-minded and too strong for Chinese men to handle, because she travelled to Europe and the US. Maybe she'll need a foreign boyfrien
Aug 27, 2015 18:16 Report Abuse
Haha , left over what ??? I am 36 almost and I am young and beautiful and very successful to men =)) I would never consider myself a left over woman =)) I will marry when I want and when I consider is the right time for me ! Is good that I was not selling out by my parents at 25 =)) Life is very beautiful ! Who care to marry as long as you have every possibility to travel, to see the world, to have friends, to have relationships, to have kids and what you want ? When China will learn not to sell their children ?????? Marriage is a paper only ! Life is a reality happiness ! Marry when and with who you feel is the right one ! If is not coming, don't be desperate, there are other good things in life and do not marry someone you do not love ! That will not be any happiness !
Jan 05, 2015 21:17 Report Abuse
The only reason there are "leftover" women in a country with millions more men than women, is the fact that many or most women are all chasing after a small group of wealthy men. In order to get married or to be seen as a "worthy" marriage candidate, a man in China must have a house, car, pay for the wedding and in some cases come up with a bride price. Considering the average salary in China, the average man would have to save half his salary for 10-20 years before having enough money to accomplish all of that. The small group of guys with enough money and assets(usually provided by wealthy parents), is not enough to go around. Therefore you end up with many women "leftover". Not because lack of men, but because of the lack of men with enough money and assets.
Jan 01, 2015 21:41 Report Abuse
Also, lets not forget that most successful businessmen in China are expected to have a woman and sometimes multiple women on the side. However, in the minds of many women its better to "cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle". For example, Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Living there will eventually kill the residents. However, in the pursuit of money and face, this is seen as acceptable. Sad to say but money and face tends to trump happiness, health and even life itself sometimes in this country.
Jan 03, 2015 13:49 Report Abuse
That is what you say when you do not depend on anybody. If people have sources of income but the rich bastard, they will have to keep the mouth shut. If the woman leaves, the baby should stay with the husband in China. Leave prosperous life with no child on the street? Not a good choice. I guess that these situations with home violence are common in any country. Even if there is no rich bastard.
Jan 03, 2015 22:13 Report Abuse
That's how life is at times,for me the parents n the girl shouldn't border,she is pretty n educated so if her attitude is good also,the she will married very soon.Pretty young girl don't worry,the right person is coming your way sooner,that is why u think u are single.I promise u,don't worry and tell ur parents to be patient a bit,your husband is coming.And i wish to ask if you people are also welcoming foreigners who are serious to marry you,'cause believe me if yes,then I promise u that you will not be single again very soon.
Dec 31, 2014 18:58 Report Abuse
When you get to a certain age it gets more difficult to meet people. I get where the parents are coming from I think they want to help their daughter as they do not want her to spend the rest of her life alone. I think that they love her so much they are willing to give a large amount of money to make sure that she is happy.
Dec 31, 2014 07:08 Report Abuse
I find it hilarious that in our day and age of technology (dating/matchmaking websites, WeChat, etc.) that these people still can't find someone. Cant blame race either as most here are Han. Obviously the problem is deeper, and in all probably includes topics like "He's not suitable, he/his family arent in the same socio-economic level as us". or maybe she's a spoiled brat narcissistic "empress" that has the men fleeing the scene once her true colors shine.
Dec 30, 2014 15:31 Report Abuse
It amazes me that people are like this, that were able to figure out ways to make money and do well for themselves... can not simply smash a stupid tradition and understand that meeting the right person is NOT an exact science. Nor can you desperately search for the RIGHT person because you usually end up rushing into a relationship that causes more pain. Finding the right person... more often than not... just kind of happens. You can't rush it.
Dec 30, 2014 11:53 Report Abuse