Preservation of Marriage In China Through A Cultural Lens
In China, the marriage industry is a massive 60-billion-dollar juggernaut (Abkowitz) with strong
traditional ties. People in China are expected to get married in their early twenties, with unmarried women in their late twenties being deemed "sheng nu" literally meaning leftover women, and unmarried men in their twenties being called "sheng nan" literally leftover men. Marriage is an institution in all cultures and is the ultimate symbol of love and commitment; however, China takes it to a whole new level, with unmarried people being compared to "yellowed pearls"(Fincher). However, as the world enters into a new era of globalization and career-oriented attitudes, is it logical for China as a culture to hold these notions about marriage? Is there a solution to keep this critical element of Chinese society in a world that is more interconnected and constantly moving faster?
While at the surface, this issue may seem irrelevant to many compared to seemingly "larger"
problems in China, if the way China sees marriage and those who miss "the mark" of marriage does not change, it could mean the end of marriage in China. In 2014 the divorce rate surpassed the marriage rate in China for the first time in its history (Suliman). This is not an isolated incident, as the divorce rate still continues to climb as the marriage rate sinks lower. The possible solution is that Chinese society needs to remove the pressure on early twenty-year-olds to get married. If society were to lessen the pressure on a marriage, then this action would decrease the emotional turmoil for these conflicted youths. This would allow them to establish their lives before they enter marriage unions. A lessening in societal pressure for marriage would also allow for deeper and more meaningful relationships eliminating the need for divorce.
Before entering marriage, people would be more self-aware, already with a successful business career
behind them, allowing them to properly balance a successful career and a meaningful marriage. Easing on old societal values would also help solve the slowly slipping population (Hanrahan), as more marriages generally mean more children.
Even though this solution seems perfect and easy, it is still a massively daunting task to achieve.
Asking for the entirety of Chinese society to suddenly change is most likely implausible. However,
attitudes are shifting, even with Adela Suliman of Vice saying, "China's "Leftover Women" is a thing of the Past"...