Much ado about shengnu

By Valerie Ng and Erik Nilsson ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-02-09 08:38:11

Much ado about shengnu

Activities are organized by many matchmaking companies to widen members' friend circles. Pictured is a dinner with games held by Coucou8, a matchmaking company in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

Much ado about shengnu
Batches of bachelors
Much ado about shengnu
Leftover women or an unappreciated feast?
There has been a great deal of hype in China about white-collar females of a certain age who remain unwed. But the numbers reveal this demographic is actually relatively rare, Valerie Ng and Erik Nilsson discover.

The shengnu, or "leftover women", have been a big deal in Chinese society - despite being a smaller part of the population than perhaps most think.

There's the TV series Old Women Should Get Married and the reality matchmaking show If You Are the One. Media have minted terms like "the shengnu economy" to analyze how successful single women older than 27 spend their cash.

The music video by and about shengnu, No House, No Car - a stinging retort to the popular No Car, No House music video by blue-collar Chinese bachelors - was viewed more than 1.5 million times within two days after it was uploaded to the Chinese video site Youku on International Women's Day in 2011.

In that time, it also garnered more than 20,000 downvotes versus about 3,400 upvotes, plus more than 5,600 comments - most of which derided the lyrics' "gold-digging" pathos.

But the women behind No House, No Car declare they don't care in the lyrics: "You can call me a gold-digger. I won't feel hurt."

They'd likely anticipated a backlash since the song contains such lines as: "You only drive a lousy BMW"; "if you don't have a car, if you don't have a house, hurry, move aside, don't block my way"; and "don't expect to get a beauty in bed".

But the buzz surrounding shengnu is seemingly larger than the group. And in fact, China's leftover women are relatively rare, especially compared with their global peers.

Fewer than 10 percent of Chinese women in their 30s are unmarried, the United Nations' World Marriage Data 2012 report shows. Only 7.4 percent of women between 30 and 34 are single, while those aged 35-39 account for 4.6 percent.

Related: Who's who and how they woo

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