Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ladies In Distress Chinese Women Are Not, But Unfair Treatment Still Persists

I have not watched the popular American TV series, "Madmen," but I am more than familiar with one of its plot elements concerning the place of women in American society back in the 1960s. Peter Vernezze, in one of his blogs for CLM, drew a nice parallel between 1960s American women and modern day's Chinese women.

It is a sad truth that in China, the women still suffer from unfair treatment, expectations, and prejudices. The women of China are now given more opportunities to better themselves through higher education and stable careers, true. The traditional thinking in China with regards to a woman's roles, however, often puts women in difficult situations where they have to make the tough choice between meeting society and their family's expectations and taking advantage of the opportunities available to them. Unfortunately, finding a balance between both is a Herculean task in a country where being a strong and independent-minded woman is actually considered unattractive.

The women of China today are still seen by the outside world and Chinese society itself as soft and docile, delicate and passive, weak and yielding. These are the standards they still have to live up to, standards that have been around since this civilization was born. It does not take a lot to imagine how hard it can be to go against a way of thinking that has been propagated for millennia.

Much like 1960s-era American women, today's Chinese women are still considered by the society as the inferior sex when it comes to most aspects of life, particularly when it involves career opportunities and having a family. It is not uncommon for a highly educated and very talented woman to be passed over for a promotion in favor or a less-qualified male colleague simply because the woman is not expected to have the ability to balance family life and the demands of the job. Worse, a woman is often expected to quit her job when she decides to get married and start a family because she is supposed to devote all her time and effort taking care of her family.

Being the more emotional between the sexes, females are also considered weaker and, therefore, cannot be expected to have the strength of will and mind to face the challenges of a male-dominated workplace. At the same time, displaying strength in any form, such as being competitive at work, would make a Chinese woman undesirable as a partner. Given that marriage and family plays a critical role in the society, being a weak candidate as a spouse is, in itself, a stigma no Chinese woman would want to carry.

Being career-oriented and ambitious are also considered very un-feminine traits. Chinese men looking for a mate still prefer women who are obedient and submissive, prim and proper, demure and humble. This means women who are successful in their chosen profession are also considered unsuitable partners. In fact, women who choose to advance their careers before settling down and who are still single after their 27th year are considered "Sheng Nu," or "leftover ladies." This is a term unique to Chinese culture.

It seems that while women of China are given the same opportunities in the society as men, the age-old expectations the society has of them also hold them back from exploring and making the best of these opportunities. They can have their cake but they can't enjoy it fully. They can be independent and successful, they can choose to be strong and ambitious, but there's always a catch.

Despite these seemingly impossible challenges, however, modern China has seen a remarkable rise in the number of self-made billionaire businesswomen. The prejudices and unfair standards still exist, but they have proven that they have what it takes to take their piece of the sky, own it, and flourish underneath it, not as delicate flowers but as sturdy trees that can hold their own and help hold up the society. They have proven that the devotion expected of them does not only apply to taking care of a family, but can also be an invaluable trait in the workplace.

Of course, these very successful female singles still have to face the fact that it is harder for them to find a suitable mate among their race. Instead of seeing this as a limitation, however, many have realized that this actually opens up more opportunities for them in the relationship department. They have what it takes to compete in the international online dating scene.

Any western man who is curious about dating a Chinese woman should be aware that there are a lot of single Chinese ladies out there who have become successful in their own right because they defied tradition and, at the same time, still offer the good values that make them suitable life partners.

Learn more about the issues women in China face and struggle to overcome, and how it might mean an opportunity for you to meet a great Chinese women at

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