New PBS documentary sheds a rare light on the personal struggles faced by single women in China - SupChina
Free

We're a new type of news publication

China news you won't read elsewhere.

Weekly Newsletter

Get a roundup of the most important and interesting stories coming out of China.

Podcasts

Sinica, TechBuzz China, and our 6 other shows are the undisputed champs of China podcasts. Listen now.

Feature Articles

Interactive, web-based deep dives into the real China.

Premium

Join the thousands of executives, diplomats, and journalists that rely on SupChina for daily analysis of the full China story.

Daily Newsletter

All the news, every day. Premium analysis directly from our Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Goldkorn.

24/7 Slack Community

Have China-related questions and want answers? Our Slack community is a place to learn, network, and opine.

Free Live Events & More

Monthly live conference calls with leading experts, free entry to SupChina live events in cities around the world, and more.

"A jewel in the crown of China reporting. I go to it, look for it daily. Why? It adds so much insight into the real China. Essential news, culture, color. I find SupChina superior."
— Max Baucus, former U.S. Ambassador to China

Free

We're a new type of news publication

China news you won't read elsewhere.

Weekly Newsletter

Get a roundup of the most important and interesting stories coming out of China.

Podcasts

Sinica, TechBuzz China, and our 6 other shows are the undisputed champs of China podcasts. Listen now.

Feature Articles

Interactive, web-based deep dives into the real China.

OR… for more in-depth analysis and an online community of China-focused professionals:

Learn About Premium Access Now!
Learn More
Minimize
Learn More
Minimize

New PBS documentary sheds a rare light on the personal struggles faced by single women in China

There’s been a lot of ink spilled in the past few years over the issue of shengnu (剩女 shèngnǚ) — “leftover women” in China. Popularized by the All-China Women’s Federation in 2007, the derogatory term is used to describe single women over the age of 27. They have been subjected to media criticism and regulatory pressure from the Chinese government for failing in their roles as wives and breeders to keep the nation’s economic engines churning.

But the conversation about single Chinese women does not have to center on the Chinese government’s worries about falling birth rates, and the millions of surplus men who are seen as a threat to social stability if unmarried. Aside from the politics, every Chinese woman who chooses to stay single wrestles with their individual challenge: It could be overbearing parents interfering with and controlling their daughters’ relationships, men’s reluctance to date high-achieving women, or emotional burdens caused by early parental loss.

In the film Leftover Women, a feature documentary that premiered on PBS on February 10, filmmakers Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia hone in on this personal aspect of the phenomenon, telling the powerful and heartfelt stories of three successful single women who are in search of a husband.

Since its release, the film has been gaining a great deal of traction (in Chinese) on the Chinese internet, with many praising its intimate portrayal of single women in China.

Click through to PBS for the full film.

Share
Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

8 Comments

  1. D. Richardson Reply

    …hone in on… really? Who is the illiterate journalistic moron who wrote that? It should be “home in on” as a projectile homes in on a target. To hone means to sharpen one’s skills, or to hone a blade to a fine edge.

  2. Ann Frances Reply

    I don’t understand. This article says China is worried about falling birth rates. I thought the problem in China was that there is a single child policy, and so families want to have a male child instead of a female child.

  3. Hugh J. Bacon Reply

    Maybe if they didn’t want to be leftover women they should have worked on getting a boyfriend and husband while they still had their fertility.

    Chinese relationships are based on reality they understand the scientific fact girls over a certain age have a harder time making healthy children or conceiving at all. The point of marriage is to make children.

    1. Taylor E. Reply

      Some of what you say may have truth, however, the problem with your comment I have Hugh, is that not all women are successful at getting a boyfriend or husband. Many beautiful and intelligent women are single for many reasons. Bad relationships – partner cheated, mistrust issues, some came from broken homes, some have been hurt and lied to that they simply prefer to stay single. Some made that choice, some just were unlucky in love.

      The second problem I have, many women who conceive and have babies later in their 30s or 40s have had healthy babies. So poke your stick somewhere else, these are the times Unlike the generation prior to the baby boomers. Got it????

      Don’t worry, China has enough people to go around.

      1. Gus Henderson Reply

        It’s a scientific fact that the later a woman waits to conceive, the more difficult it is to conceive and the likelihood of health issues for the baby increases. This certainly affects women in their 30s and 40s. Some people may feel it’s unfair, but there’s no getting around human biology. The biological clock is real.

  4. Gavin Reply

    Come over here to australia. We white aussie blokes would go for a high archiving asian woman over a gold digging cheating white woman anyday of the year.

  5. Jake Reply

    Gavin said it all! 100% correct. Plus does China need anymore people, fuck thank God for the single women, don’t have kids, let’s save the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.