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How Educated Chinese Girls Become “Leftovers”?

LeftoversJust when I was thinking about the topic for my upcoming  post a mail from one of the readers arrived:

The other day I was talking to a Chinese girl I work with and she introduced me to the phrase ‘shengnu’.  I’m sure you know what it means.  It seems that in Shanghai many girls worry about becoming a shengnu and so they desperately seek a suitable guy to get married.  Most of the girls I work with are 25/26 and worry quite a bit about finding a boyfriend.  One girl in particular often says to me ‘oh I can’t find a boyfriend, what can I do?’ like it’s a really terrible thing that she is single…

Sheng nu” (剩女) can be literally translated as “rest girls” or “the girls that left out”, or shorter and harsher – “leftovers”! This term refers to girls in their late twenties and older who are yet single. Another slang used to describe them is “3S women”, meaning “single”, “seventies” (born in seventies) and “stuck”.

It’s not pleasant to be tagged as “leftovers” even if you are a nice-looking, educated and independent woman (which is often the case with these girls). So, why is it so shameful to be single in such relatively young age in China?

First, let’s have a look at some curious statistics. The marriageable age in China (the minimal age at which the Marriage Law allows people to get married) is higher than in most countries of the world, being 20 years for females and 22 for males. Together with that the average age of first marriage in China is one of the lowest in the world: 22.1 years for females and 23.8 years for males!!! It seems that young people hurry to tie the knot as soon as they become eligible to do so.

Well… average numbers take in account the whole population of China most of which reside in rural areas, while “sheng nu” mostly live in big cities like Shanghai or Beijing. They find themselves in painful conflict between older traditional values of their parents’ generation and the realities of modern world. Today’s demands for good education and high living costs in big cities require from young people to change the priorities and concentrate on their careers ahead of personal life.

But while modern Chinese society sets similarly difficult challenges for guys and girls, it’s not equal to them when the same guys and girls want to create families.

As claimed in the research “Marriage Form and Age at First Marriage: A Comparative Study in Three Counties in Contemporary Rural China”:

… education can increase women’s age at first marriage when they are educated above a certain level. For men, the effects of education on marriage age are always positive, and literate men marry earlier than illiterate ones.

…women are less likely to marry “downwards” and men are less likely to marry “upwards”. Education level also represents individual abilities, parent’s investment in children and family economy; therefore, men with higher education and women with moderate education will marry earlier.

Another “unfair” difference is rooted in preferences for marriage age. A survey found that ideal age to marry for Chinese men is above 30, and for Chinese girls is below 25!

It seems that the ambitious Chinese girls set a kind of trap for themselves. It is almost a universal law in China (and I think not only in China) that husband must be older and have a better education. Thus, paradoxically enough, upon achieving a certain level of education and financial stability Chinese girls find themselves with fewer opportunities in “marriage market”.

And it’s not only because these girls are especially picky. Due to “face” things Chinese men won’t approach them if they feel themselves inferior in some aspect.

Should it come as surprise that in spite of worrying gender imbalance (there are about 30 millions more males of marriageable age in China than females) as much as 500,000 women in Beijing alone are “leftover” ladies?

Time passes by – once clever and beautiful girls become too clever and not so beautiful “sheng nu”. It’s harder and harder to listen to parents’ nagging who dream about a happy picture of 四世同堂 (“si shi tong tang” – four generations living under one roof). One my friend – a 31 years old girl from Beijing – complains that lately she can’t say anything to her parents without hearing the same reply ”Get married!”

– Yesterday I saw an awesome movie.    – Get married!

– I wonder if I should study for MBA?      – Get married!

– I hate my boss, want to find another job!          – Stop complaining and get married!!!

Though it seems that I will escape the fate of becoming another “sheng nu”, I gratefully realize that my parents have been more an exception than rule by never forcing me about marriage and always respecting my will.

Not a “sheng nu” yet, Crystal Tao

  • Fili

    Very interesting. I have quite a few “third type” female PhD classmates with unbelievable societal pressure to get married and forget about pursuing their own goals.

  • Mark

    I’ve met quite a few girls like this, especially at the colleges I’ve worked at. When they finally do find a boyfriend, he goes from boyfriend to husband really quickly. I can tell that the girls are relieved to finally be rid of the nagging, but a lot of them don’t really seem happy, since they often tied the knot out of desperation rather than love. Chinese culture doesn’t realize that you can’t make a flower “hurry up and grow.” China doesn’t need any more beautiful but empty-headed girls, it needs more 3S girls (I’ve also heard it referred to as “strong, sexy, and stable” :-P). And these are often the girls that Western guys go for.

  • Magnus

    So my question for the parents who finish each comment with “GET MARRIED” is… What happens mom and dad if I marry the wrong person? What if I hurry up like you are telling me and marry some guy who isn’t right for me, I don’t like but I marry him only because he’s convenient and here now. Then what? Do the parents answer that by saying that you can live with that? Grandchildren are more important than a good marriage? Parents in America also put pressure on their kids too but the idea of grandchildren is not THAT important that they would pressure their kids to marry anyone. After all, the parents aren’t the ones living with that person day in and day out. Oh wait. In China they do live together… so never mind.
    So you have a mother and father who pressure the daughter. She gets married to some guy she doesn’t really care much about. They have a baby. The grandparents take over the new baby’s life. The two parents then continue to live together even though they don’t really care much about each other. Doesn’t sound like much of a life to me…

  • Crystal

    @Mark: I’ve never heard about “3S” standing for “strong, sexy and stable”, but I definitely like it :smile:

    @Magnus: I am on your side on this topic ;-)
    But for the sake of truth, I should note that marriages built on mutual romantic attraction also suffer from a high rate of divorces and general dissatisfaction (it’s hard to blame parents in these cases, right?)

  • David

    These attitudes make it easier for Western men to find well-educated, attractive, Asian women in their late 20s to 30s. Then Chinese men complain about “their” women marring Westerners.

    Their loss if the ostracize the best catches. Our gain :lol:

  • Magnus

    “marriages built on mutual romantic attraction also suffer from a high rate of divorces and general dissatisfaction” of course! but anybody basing their relationship and marriage only on ROMANTIC ATTRACTION is asking for divorce and dissatisfaction.

    “Their loss if they ostracize the best catches. Our gain!” Totally agree! Great way to look at it!

  • Crystal

    That’s true. There are many different factors (besides mutual attraction) defining the probability of happiness and harmony in family life. Some of these factors are not under control of the individuals themselves, but under control of society, parents, marriage “market” conditions and so on…

    And I do believe that for most women there is a critical point in timeline after which their concentration on education and career actually harms other important aspects of their lives. Whether it’s fair or not, and why this point in China comes so early is another topic.

    By the way – though coming much later – this critical point exists for men as well. After building a successful career and upon accumulating a certain level of wealth, men will always have doubts whether they are loved for who they are…

  • James Roberts

    Dear never sheng nu Crystal, :shock: Wow!! This is your saddest and most confusing post yet. It confuses me because you stated that there are 30 million more males than females. Seems to me that would favor the women. That they could pick and choose and even wait longer to settle down than the men.
    I am still learning about Chinese customs and culture, but I have also heard tell of successful Chinese men having more than woman at home?? I do not know if this is true- but I do know America-and I know if there was 30 million more males than females. The American women would use it to their advantage. Come on Guys!!! back me up here-I was married to a typical American women and I don’t care how successful I was – if I told her I was bringing another woman home, I would’ve had to sleep with one eye open ;-) and my running shoes on. Thanks for your blog James(12 days and counting) Roberts

  • Erik

    Sort of the opposite happens here in the US when men get older and haven’t married. Somehow these men are deemed to be defective by women in the US.

  • Crystal

    Dear James,

    First of all I want to wish you good luck in China, and that everything goes smoothly for you and your girl.

    As for the “second women” (or “er nai” in Chinese) – this is indeed a widespread thing in China being a symbol of status for rich and successful Chinese men.
    However, men don’t bring them to live together with their legal wives – we haven’t yet restored concubinage in China :lol:

  • Ziccawei

    All the replies so far are from men. From the attached pictures we can see that two are foreign men. It would be interesting to see how many Chinese men share the same views. Chinese men (and Chinese society in general) seem to look down on these 3S girls (who, in my opinion, may be the better catch – who would want a shopping-addicted bimbo princess?).
    Right now, due to the behaviour of some Shanghai girls, due to the one child policy, due to astronomical house prices and due to greedy Shanghainese parents trying to sell their daughters off, there are many shengnu girls in Shanghai.
    I imagine many of them are busy with their careers, while many of them were busy shopping and looking at themselves in the mirror. The latter group are probably at home right now, living with mum and dad, scratching their head and trying to figure out why they are still single. They’re probably wondering why they are not married to some millionaire guy and driving their BMW to shopping malls inbetween getting their nails done.
    There exists in Shanghai a small microtrend right now that may never be repeated. A group of girls around the age of 30 that may never get married as life literally passes them by. This small group may not be repeated as guys who eventually can afford to buy a house in downtown Shanghai will probably not choose a girl of 33 to be his wife – not when there are dozens of 24-year-olds to choose from.
    Also, there is a ton of money to be made from these chicks. What would a career-minded Shanghainese girl of 30 – 35 spend her cash on? Answer that and cash in on it because it is pure gold and no-one else is digging.
    Ciao Crystal!

  • korean_guy

    So if I am understanding the plight of 3S women in China correctly it is that despite the tremendous unbalance in the gender population, the current imbalance of surplus men – plus the expected outnumbering of men to women exceeding 20 million by 2025 – 3S women will still choose to remain single or feel they are unable to marry because most Chinese men will not meet the expectation or standards of 3S women, is this correct?

  • Crystal

    Not really.
    The paradox of 3S women is that men (due to gender disbalance) have less choice, but nevertheless they do not regard the candidatures of “sheng nu”.

    Though Shanghai girls described by Ziccawei are guilty themselves for being left out – they do not constitute the majority of sheng nu.

  • Ziccawei

    Korean_Guy – It seems crazy that, given the huge surplus of men in China now, some women in China remain single. This is due in part to some of these women being ‘too educated’ or doing a job that may undermine any potential boyfriend/husband (ie, her job is better or more important than her boyfriend’s job). The growing middle-class of China has made women more powerful, but (in a country that is ultimately still very traditional) isolated/alone in some cases.
    For some of the 3S women – especially the ‘Shanghai Princess’ – they have believed the publicity about themselves (aided by their mother) and essentially lost the hand. Lots of choice of potential guys, but none of them good enough.
    I would say there are two groups of 3S (with the possibility of a third group); the career-girl who is truly independent and has her own apartment, money in the bank, etc. The Shanghai Princess, who had aspirations of being the Chinese version of Paris Hilton, but dropped the ball and now sent back to the showers nursing a bloody nose. A third group of girls that could be found in every city of the world – these girls could just never find a guy in their life.
    For these 3S girls – who could they find as a partner, to get married?
    For both I would say that the best/only choice would be a foreigner.
    For the career girl – a foreign guy who also has his own career etc and isn’t challenged by the girl’s job/position in society. These could be perfectly matched and could be a happy union.
    For the Shanghai Princess – a foreign guy that is divorced or 50+ or has ‘loser’ kind of qualities. I personally know of two examples – one dating an English teacher, that ten years ago she wouldn’t even give the time of day, the other considering marrying a guy she met on the internet, a mail order bride if you will.
    What I would like to know is, how to cash in from it? Seriously, this is a huge untapped demographic.

  • Crystal

    Hmmm… here is my very wild guess regarding the cashing on Shanghai princesses.
    They are known to love all kinds of brands, and an often quoted example is of a girl who can spend a few months salary to buy a luxurious bag just because it is a well-advertized brand – sometimes being more popular in China than in the country where it is produced.
    This trend is often coupled with very vague knowledge about the true value of products (when the most important thing is BRAND).

    For example, you can hear Chinese saying: “Oh… I want THE :!: Swiss watch”.

    I believe, that if someone talks about THE Swiss watch, then she doesn’t really know what she wants. And then she will be ready to pay a lot of money for subjective value of product which can be substantially higher than its real value.

    I am not saying that it should be bags or watches – in fact, it can be anything – the only requirement is to advertise it being “foreign”, “classy”, “sexy” and so on…

    So here is the business model with a code name “Shahnghai Princess” :mrgreen: :
    1) Choose some FOREIGN product
    2) Monopolize the rights for its distribution in China
    3) Advertize it through various channels as being “exclusive” and “superclassy”
    4) Setup a very high pricing
    5) Start cashing in

    • China Shark Mike

      So true Crystal it blows my mind the general stupidity involved in having to keep up with the Jones. This type of propoganda is outrageous yet Chinese from all working classes buy into just like of course all Americans possess firearms. I’ll be damned if I pay 3x the price of something just because everyone states it’s the bomb. Personally I would never buy Nike, Adidas, or Puma through a department store or an authorized chain. Mark ups are 100% or more most times. Modern day Chinese are like what America was like in the successful 80s, decadent, spoiled and want to show everyone look I have money for these overpriced items. It’s a sad state of affairs but something hopefully Chinese will get past like America did approaching the 90s.

  • TLB

    “So here is the business model with a code name “Shahnghai Princess” :
    1) Choose some FOREIGN product
    2) Monopolize the rights for its distribution in China
    3) Advertize it through various channels as being “exclusive” and “superclassy”
    4) Setup a very high pricing
    5) Start cashing in”

    I’m guessing that’s what some smart distributor did for Budweiser. Last summer I was on Hainan Island with my fiancee, and I always like to try the local beer, and can “fall back” on Qingdao if I need to (or if the local beer turns out not to be so good). One place we went, the waiter says they have a “special beer” for me for only twice the price of the local brand, so I say OK — it turns out to be Budweiser at 15 kuai! I sent it back and asked for a Qingdao (a better beer I think) for 6 kuai. In the States, Bud is a very ordinary beer, popular, cheap, but certainly not “special.” :roll:

  • James

    I’m a cultural anthropologist and English teacher living and working in China. I have several colleagues who are about 25-26, all female, and they are desperately seeking a marriageable boyfriend. Each has an education to the level of bachelor’s degree, are feeling the pressure to get married, or become a ‘sheng nu’. Both are educated and attractive. One in particular is limiting herself exclusively to western men up to ten years older than she.

    China’s society and culture have been changing dramatically in the past twenty years. However, the traditional ideas about marriage age for a woman, have not changed. The focus is to make money now, but focusing on a career while simultaneously finding a marriage partner, can be at odds.

    In the future, this contradiction of early marriage age and career will have to be reconciled with an older marrying age for women in China. Until then, women feel unnecessary pressure from society, and from their own families, to get married by age 25.

    In the mean time, I also see a lot of very unhappy marriages, that were rushed. The husbands are cheating on their wives, especially when they are living in a different city. But, that’s another topic best left to another article.

  • keius

    It goes both ways really. It’s the fault of both the men and the women of China. Women don’t want to marry men less educated or “beneath” them. They wait so long for a “superior” man that they limit their own choices the older they get. Men are the same in that they want a woman who is “beneath” him. A successful woman limits her own choices. That’s why it’s best to marry early for those with no prospects of higher education. Between a choice of a 30 year old educated beautiful Chinese woman, and a 20 year old so-so (in looks) high school graduate girl, the successful Chinese man will almost always choose the 20 year old. Youth is more important for childbearing and beauty usually comes a distant second. He can get beauty with his “er nai”, assuming he’s got the dough for it ;-) Anyway, i think the guys have it tougher. The girls have choices at least. They can choose to get hitched and have some leeway in choosing. They are limited in time though. The men have zero options unless they can somehow manage to scrape up the money for a house and possibly a car. Without those, he has no choices at all(in general).
    Honestly though, i think this situation mostly applies to just the cities. The dynamic in a lot of the rural areas can vary by alot. In Guangzhou, the local population has been decimated. Migrant workers (non card holders) account for the vast majority of the population. School closings are very very common since only ‘local’ children are allowed to go to those schools. It’s gotten bad enough that the gov’t has suspended the 1 child policy there. The problem is that the locals for the most part, now only want 1 child.
    Did i also mention that the divorce rates of city folks are going up too? :| I’ll take a wild guess that the majority of these are the young couples that get married early and are unable to handle the financial stresses of city life.
    I actually know a couple who are in their early 20’s. They have a son. She’s a ‘er nai’ to some old guy, to support her ‘real’ family. Just so frikkin sad. okay…i’m starting to ramble….

  • John

    Yes, there is a big problem of gender imbalance, which is one reason why China leads the world in people trafficking – World Fact book – country workers can find a wife only by stealing or buying one.My experience is that Chinese women are far better workers than the men, most of whom seem interested only in sitting around, basketball, and smoking. There are strong social pressures for women to marry by about 24, and by 27 equally strong feelings of impending doom amongst those women still single. Which is why some then take a totally unsuitable husband rather than none at all. There aren’t these social pressures in the west.I’m sure a growing number of well-educated diligent women are realising they would do better alone; equally, many look amongst foreigners, not merely for escape, but because foreigners generally have a less chauvinistic approach, do not regard a wife as another chattel, but respect their wives and treat them as the equals they actually are.

  • toby

    But my friend she never heard of this Chinese word sheng nu or 3s girls. She is from Tawain

  • Ziccawei

    Taiwan is not the same as Mainland China. They have different names for things sometimes. Maybe in Taiwan, as it is more developed, they would not regard a woman who is thirty as all washed up. In Mainland China, a girl reaches thirty and she’s pretty much done.
    China is an ageist society for sure. I wonder if a girl who is around the age of 30, maybe she loses her job or wants to change jobs, could she do this? Maybe many potential employers would regard her as too old. It’s crazy.

  • Martin

    Hi Crystal, I wanted to let you know that I re-posted your post onto my own blog. I have put a link in the blog to yours. I hope you don’t mind.

  • China Shark Mike

    When I was living and teaching in Japan there was a term for these types of women. It was a rather crude term yet here it is “Christmas Cake” {expired}, past 25 then not good choice for future wife. It is sad yet Asianic cultures view women as commodities and are not considerate of their feelings. Women here go out of their way to talk to me in Shenzhen yet will never even acknowledge the prescence of a Chinese man getting on the elevator. Finding a guy is no problem, finding a truly suitable one is next to impossible in the big cities. Most women go for the foreigners because they know they stand a good chance at a man who is more versed in treating a woman like a lady. If they have to marry a fat, ugly, old, bald foreigner at least she beleives her chances are better than marrying a chinese man. Too many Chinese men have too many vices, girls, drinking, smoking, gambling, do not exercise, lazy. Marrying a white foreigner seems to becoming quite the popular trend among Chinese women now. I moved here 20 months ago for that very same reason. Unfortunately many Chinese women are just like the Shanghai princess you mentioned above. I broke up with my girlfriend because she didn’t want to work towards the relationship, just wanted the rewards. Parents and siblings paid her way through life, hence she is a thirty year woman who never had a job and has been in colleges for ten years now. Her new scam is now she’s traveling to Canada for yet some more schooling. A lot of these women cause their own grief by setting the standards so high no man could ever measure up. I make 20,000 rmbs a month and yet that was not enough for her to feel secure with. I find it bizarre some of the general expectations of what constitutes a good cohesive relationship. Dysfunctionality at it’s best. Too many sabotage their chances at a future for that nonsense face. Ultimately your parents will pass away and then who is the one you need to look to. If money wasn’t god I would be getting married next month like we both planned. Chinese culture has a hard time deviating the slightest from anything and that’s what keeps China walking two steps forward one step back. I love China yet sometimes the {TIC} this is China gets old fast. Do things because it is logical and not just because someone told you to do it that way.

  • Ziccawei

    I think we probably all know of examples here that fit the bill of Christmas Cake. The occasional ‘Hua Ping’. Can’t do anything by themselves except go shopping.
    What will these people do after their parents die? Sure, many could just continue living in the house that their parents bought but then what?
    As said above, these women have totally unrealistic fantasies about what they want in the future – the kind of stuff that teenage girls in the west might dream about, except in China these women are in their 30’s.
    It’s because of China’s ‘opening up’ policy, that combined with the One Child Policy and you have an entire generation of brats screaming ‘iwantiwantiwant’.
    Except there is a large group of them still screaming and no one listening.

  • Bored in Sydney

    Ironically I read a study completed across several cultures and an extended period of time for a most likely successful marriage. They found that a 4-5 year age gap with a younger wife and she should be 27% more intelligent than the husband.

    I am not sure how you make an objective measurement of the intellect, however I tend to find these single Chinese women to be my flavour. I love a smart girl, and as I am no dummy and have a Masters myself I look for the very clever women. I find that young & girly stuff a turn off, also the virginal thing is not appealing. Who wants a lover with no idea what they should do in bed?

    The trick is finding a potential partner that is not still living in a fantasy world of this man who will arrive to make the dream come true, give her that BMW, let her stay home, and still feel that she is the most interesting and attractive woman ever born. Fat Chance! The other one is the need to have a baby. Where do you find a way to kill this idea? There are too many people on this planet already, we don’t need the expectations of the grandparent to force out another consumer do we?

    • Crystal

      How to make an objective measurement? Well, I guess that one could use the same methods as the authors of the study. I guess that they used some kind of IQ tests

      It reminds me the story I recently read in ChinaSmack about one Chinese girl who printed few thousand of flyers with the list of requirements for her future husband and gave these flyers to passers-by on Shanghai boulevard.
      She herself was neither attractive nor intelligent (but her requirements were VERY high :roll: )

  • China Shark Mike

    However her confidence was exceptional but her EQ rated a big fat zero. She ain’t get married ever, no one can fill her ridiculous expectations. The girl I was supposed to marry this October had such unreal expectations it was a forlorn conclusion. No, big surpise at least on her part. She was only after me for materalistic things so I soon was fazed out of the picture. Yes, Crystal I agree statistics are just that numbers done on pcs or paper, truly meaningless for the average die hard China Shark. I make my rules I don’t wait for others to advise what is right for me. If I’de have listen to others I’de be living in America possibly out of work or under employed at a menial management job.

  • Ziccawei

    Five years from now there will be a lot of angry single women in Shanghai….


  • Ziccawei

    If it was single Shanghai men – there would be no protests. They would just get together and play computer games, smoke cigarettes and rest their heads on each others shoulders.
    Shanghai women though? Those tigers are going to come out with their claws out.
    Check out this:
    I have added comments.

    • Crystal

      Ha! Good one! Maybe I should take interview from the club’s founder. Thanks for the link ;-)

      • Ziccawei

        I think that would make for some very interesting reading, Crys.
        I just had lunch with a friend (an ABC guy) married to a Sichuan girl. We got talking about stuff and then got talking about how demanding Shanghai girls can be. It seems that it is USUALLY Shanghai girls that behave this way – girls from other regions of China not.
        They have made such demands, have such high expectations, that they have pushed themselves out of the market. They keep rejecting every guy that comes to them (because he doesn’t own a house in a downtown area plus a car plus a car for her plus cash for her parents) that eventually they find themselves 30+ and totally isolated.
        Their only route after that is to marry a laowai – usually some guy at least 10+ years older than her. If she can speak some English and has no problem going to Shanghai bars to find one, then maybe she is in luck. If she can’t bring herself to do that, what other recourse does she have?
        She is, in a word, totally screwed.

        • Crystal

          Ziccawei, if you would be a sociologist looking for a topic of his next research – I am sure I know which topic you would choose :lol:

          • Ziccawei

            You think the CCP would pay me to do a research paper?

  • Bob

    I think marriage is easier in China than the US, for men. It’s very easy in the US, to lose everything (house, money, and children) after a divorce. The laws are very biased towards women. However, I think it’s very easy to get a divorce in China. So it’s better for the men.

  • Crystal

    Well… I am not sure but I guess that divorce is just one field where women in U.S. are benefited. However, in other fields the bias is still towards men, isn’t it?

    • TLB

      I disagree that US divorce laws are “very biased towards women” — I suppose mileage varies by experience though. I suspect they’re biased towards the lower income earner, which more often than not is the woman, and there’s probably still a bias towards having children stay with the woman, but that’s lessening too.

      As for “other fields” since you asked, Crystal, yes, there are still biases, most notably within elected government (still dominated by men) and within the community of CEOs — but again, this is changing slowly. The future should see this change continue, as nowadays more than 50% of graduate students in the US are female.

  • China Shark Mike

    My new girlfriend is 35 yrs old and never married. She’s lived in Shenzhen 9 years, states Shenzhen is only good for making money not having meaningful relationships. Out of almost 2 years here I actually only met 2 truly suitable women here. The other one was a 21 yr age difference {too much for me to look past}. Current girl is 13 yrs so for us it’s a no brainer we both want the same things in life. Chinese preoccupation with money creates these self perpetuating prophecies. I don’t feel bad for some of the women, they bring upon themselves with the me me attitude. Right now I live month to month and have little savings, but in her eyes that is a start as long as I really care for her.

  • Ziccawei

    I love the way there seems to be a certain trend among ‘women of a certain age’ (Ie; 30) that try to make out that they don’t want to get married.

    It’s such bullshit. There is not a woman on the planet that doesn’t want to get hitched to some poor guy and make his life miserable.

    Anyone read that book Microtrends? You could do a whole Chinese version with Shengnu being one of the new microtrends. They account for more than 1% of most big city demographics in China.

    Sucks to be them I guess…

  • China Shark Mike

    Z, what part of China are you living in?

  • Ziccawei


  • China Shark Mike

    Dude, I’m feeling you on that note now. Exwife was Shanghainese, ooooh. So you know only too well these kind of high maintenence women. Today I was mulling over these types and came up with an interesting analogy. If you can’t afford the payments don’t buy the car. Ex was very much always looking to trade up for a better deal. Moved from Shanghai to Tokyo to Philadelphia to State College PA to New Jersey to Seattle in the course of 15 yrs. Could never be enough for her ever. Last I talked with her was 6 yrs ago discussing signing divorce papers. Subsequently she went out to date a dozen different nationalities in search of what I’ll never know or care about. I’ve friends who are from Shanghai yet would never consider anything more than friends with my past experience.

  • Ziccawei

    Yeah they can be hard work. Shanghai guys even admit to this. In five years or so there will be a lot of women in Shanghai in their mid-30’s, bitter and single and living at home. A product of their own making.

  • Xinjiang Gringo

    Yeah I’ve run into a few of these types. The Chinese version seem to be much more docile and easier to get along with. The western version is a bitter ball of man hating fury.

    I’m getting married to a really nice girl and will prevent her from becoming the next sheng nu statistic. :)

  • estoppel

    This topic highlights an interesting difference between two male cultures.

    Men in their twenties here are always attracted to woman in their thirties. That’s not to say that they don’t consider younger woman, but the attraction is that mature women generally know what they want, what they don’t want, what pleases them and what doesn’t. And there’s the expectation among younger men that they have something to learn from an “older” women.

    It’s a also a mark of manhood for the younger male because if he can date an older girl, it means he’s satisfying her.

    So from this kind of perspective, shengnus are a welcome phenomenon.

    Anyway, interesting topic and blog!

    • ziccawei

      I agree with you, estoppel. I think in the West many guys in their mid-twenties or even younger, fantasise of being with a ‘cougar’.
      But in China, no guy would possibly imagine a thing like that. Even if a Chinese guy of 25 did have a girlfriend of 31/32, his parents would convince him to end the relationship and they would use the ‘fact’ that she is too old to bear children.

  • China Shark Mike

    Dude, that never fly here but is a nice pipedream

  • paul k

    i married a 46 year old woman with a high school education and a long history working for the same company !!!

    she has a 22 year old daughter and both are great !!!

    i personal would not trade my wife for the 24 year old chinese wife my chinese man friend just married !!!

    she is very attractive but does not know how to cook or clean the only thing i know for right now the sex is good they live in the apartment above me and i can hear that seems ok !!!!

    even my other chinese friends in my building laugh at these things!!!

    i think my chinese canadian friends wife if i recall is from shanghai !!!! hehehe

    my wife on the other hand knows how to do all these things and then some and still looks like she is in her twenties !!!

  • Gao Le

    very niceI want to add some insight through this article :

  • rgarmong

    Lucky you! 我们认识的时候我老婆32岁,我42岁。她的父母都问她“什么时候结婚?“ 她想做自己的工作,买房,玩儿。她的家人很文明,她也文明,可是她也是当前人。

  • Christopher

    Most Chinese men won’t marry educated women because they are afraid to be embarrassed or to lose face if their wife knows more about anything than they do, or if she earns more money than him. Whoever thinks that Chinese women married to wealthy Chinese men are educated is wrong, these girls are often from a peasant background with very little education. Chinese men wants a woman who can give birth and shut her mouth, a woman who won’t complain or ask questions when he goes to meet his mistresses. Truly smart Chinese women are busy running companies or working at important positions, they are not at home waiting for their husband to give them a weekly pension. I learn while living in China how easy it is to see whether or not a woman is highly educated, those who aren’t will always talk about money, be greedy, ask for money, ask the guy to buy them things, can’t hold conversations others than shopping and money, have short tempers, get easily angry because they see no other future than begging men for money, while educated women are the complete opposite, they earn their own money and are often quite sophisticated, have good tastes in fashion, design or cultural activities, are quiet and think before talking, rarely get angry because they don’t need the man and can be financially independent. The same is true for men, and true for most countries and cultures in the world, truly smart people are usually quiet and don’t show off, dumb people are usually loud and obnoxious. My apologies English is not my mothertongue, but I think my point is clear.