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Leftover Women - Sheng Nu

I started my professional journey in a public sector bank, where transfers were ‘de rigeur’ to get a promotion. I recall envying my single women colleagues, who floated through the process effortlessly.

Closer conversations revealed that given a choice, they would like to be looked after financially by a husband.

I recalled a line in my Economics text book saying “Marriage is universal”. I’d wondered if it was true, and why should a text book make such assumptions.

Gone are the days…. SINGLE MILLENIALS

Girls now are confident about living alone, and flaunting a single status with pride.

I correct myself. It’s the same with boys. The millennials are not embarrassed about their single status.

Parents sheepishly admit that they’ve no control on their children, and move on to other topics. In more intimate circles, they express concern about the support network their single children will lack in their old age. Why do people discount the power of new networks which can develop?

The world is changing. But this article on single women beyond the age of 27 (Really? Is that old?) in China being labelled ‘leftover women’ or “ Sheng Nu” brought my focus back on the subject.

Is there an equivalent term for guys who choose to remain single?


This article says the social system intends to shame and humiliate them into getting married. Remaining single or not choosing motherhood is sacrilege.

The women retaliate by flaunting their riches and affluent lifestyles to justify their ‘well-being’. It also helps parents justify their single status.

My mind goes back to a single friend’s mother telling all and sundry that her daughters focussed on their careers (both are Ph.Ds). But for sure … those who are not rich or successful also have a right to retaining their independence and single status.


Asian cultures place a lot of expectations on married women to adapt to lifestyles in their marital home and surrender their identity. That itself becomes a deterrent to emancipated women choosing marriage.

Do they realise this? The harder they clamp women’s existence in marriage, the more they will clamour to stay single.

More so when live-in relationships and casual dating are gaining acceptability. Single women choosing to adopt a child is also getting commoner.

Why should a woman choose to be or not choose to be bound by an institution?

I leave you with the thought.

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