Those who do not comply are known as or “leftover women”, a phrase that has connotations of leftover, unwanted food.
In rural areas, women may be considered leftover at 25; in larger cities it kicks in closer to 30. Although marriages are no longer arranged, they are heavily monitored.
They were pushed to study, succeed and achieve as only boys had done before them.The demographic pressures of the one-child society have actually increased the obligations on both sexes, even though they were born into a freer, more prosperous world than that of their parents.When June Ding goes on a date with a Chinese man, she hikes up the virgin factor.Instead of wearing a low-cut top and necklace, she stows away her cleavage and dons a demure sweater and scarf.In the Mao Zedong era after 1949, work-unit bosses often arranged pairings instead.
That youngsters may choose their own life partner is a relatively new notion, so China’s dating culture is still in its infancy.That has allowed them to focus on what they see as June’s next obligation to the family: marriage.“Pay attention to your laugh!” warns her mother as June gets ready for a date one evening.The result is that, by 2020, China will be home to an estimated 30m-40m men known as or “bare branches”, who will never marry or produce “offshoots” of their own.That is a big change in a culture where until recently marriage was near universal.Every individual knew their place and fulfilled their role.