Not the marrying type

‘Leftover women’ still a topic for debate, featuring in 12 TV series

Not the marrying type

Father and daughter: Zong Fuli says she can’t find a partner

The question weighing most on Zong Fuli, only daughter of beverage tycoon Zong Qinghou, also China’s richest man, isn’t how best to grow Wahaha, the company her father founded.

During an interview with the Chinese edition of Marie Claire, Zong wondered aloud about something rather more pressing as far as she is concerned: why she can’t find a boyfriend.

“I feel pessimistic about love,” confided Zong, who is now a senior manager at Wahaha. “Quite often it is hard for girls like me to find a boyfriend. Everyone knows this,” she added, complaining that prospective suitors seemed to be putting her on a pedestal.

Zong then listed the qualities of the man of her dreams: “I have simple requests in love. He could be someone who sends me text messages every day with simple greetings such as asking whether I have eaten yet or when I am going to bed. Just a little love and caring would be enough for me. But it is very hard to find a man like this, really.”

The comments quickly went viral on weibo, with many men keen to offer their credentials in Zong’s search for a partner.

“Please marry me. Does anybody have her contact info?” one netizen wrote.

Millions of single women around the country may have been left feeling a little discouraged. If Zong can’t find a boyfriend, what hope for those without similar fame and fortune?

WiC has written before about shengnü, or ‘leftover women’, a term generally in China used to describe women over the age of 28, often well-educated and financially independent, but yet to marry.

That Chinese women report trouble finding husbands seems counterintuitive. After all, the one-child policy has led to a skewed adult population, with larger numbers of men. But among the disproportionate number of female high-achievers, the complaint is that it is increasingly difficult to find spouses who meet their standards of marriageability (see WiC99).

In fact, the number of single women is on the rise.

In Shanghai and Beijing the number of unmarried women between the ages of 20 and 50 has experienced what the Global Times calls “ominous growth” to the point that there are now well over a million of them living in the two cities.

The phenomenon is also inspiring a crop of TV shows. One is Drama Go Go Go, which began airing on the satellite station Hunan TV in early January, tracing the love life of a 30 year-old single female scriptwriter Wang Mingming, played by Taiwanese starlet Lin Xinru. Another series soon to be shown (also on Hunan TV) is Let’s Get Married, with actress Gao Yuanyuan playing the unmarried woman.

In fact, leftover women have become such a popular topic that WiC has counted at least 12 TV series based on shengnü plotlines over the last year.

Of course, viewers must suspend any sense of disbelief that good-looking types like Lin and Gao could have trouble finding boyfriends. Unsurprisingly, most of the other leftover women on television are attractive too. More often the message is that they are single because they are “too career-minded” rather than because of any reaction to their looks. But the critics warn that this is hardly a new story idea, and that the glut of shengnü shows is in danger of becoming a turn-off. Netizens have also complained that the theme is becoming boring, says Guangzhou Daily.

“Why are they talking about leftover women again? This topic has been used one too many times,” one viewer grumbled on weibo.

Another wrote: “At first, shows about leftover women were fun to watch because they depict the reality for single women. But over time the shows are no different from fairy tales. The story is often about a good-looking, rich man falling in love with Cinderella. This is too dreamy, too unrealistic. I reckon older single women would want to kill themselves after watching these shows.”

Perhaps Zong Fuli should steer clear of the television for a week or two…

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