Staying Single Not Easy: Women Bucking Tradition in China Stand Strong

As International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8, stories of women who stand strong, particularly when it comes to the headwinds of societal expectations on romance, have been on my mind. Not that long ago, China Daily published a story highlighting the challenges that Chinese women in their 30s and even late 20s face when they’re single — and the courage it takes for them to live their lives.

Titled Staying Single Can Be So Demanding, it highlights several singles, including 38-year-old Feng Xin, “the last single person in her group of friends”:

In China, where conformity and traditional family values have always been highly prized, her solo lifestyle is still considered unconventional. ….

…after dinner a few days ago with colleagues, most of whom are in their 20s and early 30s, Feng came across a phrase she had never heard before-mu tai solo. This combination of the Chinese words “mu tai” and the English word “solo” refers to people who have never been in a romantic relationship. “Unfortunately, I am one of them.

When I told my colleagues I had been mu tai solo for nearly 40 years, they looked shocked and sympathized with me,” Feng said. “It was very embarrassing. I just made fun of myself, saying that my new year wish is to find my first love and then experience my first heartbreak.

“There has always been a phrase for single women-sheng nyu, or ‘leftover women’. Now, there is this new one, mu tai solo, which is disparaging. It’s not my fault that I’m mu tai solo, because when love happens, it happens. You cannot force it.”

When she told her mother about this experience, her 67-year-old parent sighed and said, “See, this is why you need a boyfriend to help get you out of this situation.”

Feng said: “But I really don’t think so. I don’t need a relationship to prove that I am one of ‘them’. I don’t want to get married under any kind of pressure. Finding what makes you happy is the most important thing.”

While not single, I can relate to the pressure felt when bucking societal expectations (such as the fact that I have no children). Not everyone ends up living in a way that follows convention — but, as Feng points out astutely in the piece, you don’t have to prove yourself that way. You just have to seek your own happiness, and be content in that.

You can read the full story here. And to all the women out there who read this blog (and the people who love them) wishing you a happy International Women’s Day on March 8!

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3 Replies to “Staying Single Not Easy: Women Bucking Tradition in China Stand Strong”

  1. There have been both men and women proclaiming that they vow to remain single forever… In the west as well as the east.

    My take on it? Don’t be so fast to make vows on situations which may change. Everybody is gangster… until the aches and pains and chronic medical conditions of aging begin ravaging you. The only things in life that are certain are illness, taxes, and death. Everything else are variables. Don’t blind yourself by jumping on social or political bandwagons and end up missing out on some things that you may love and cherish. Don’t make promises, but be pragmatic.

  2. The biggest cost for staying single and/or having no kids is old age security. I am not just talking about financial security. More important to have someone who would fight for your well-being in a commercial society utterly indifferent to suffering of other people.

  3. RE: Ming…

    Absolutely correct. You don’t know what life can throw at you at any moment. Tell you a short little story. I used to be a super hardass. Like pulling 18 hour shifts driving trucks, riding motorcycles on the highway at 80+ mph without a helmet type hardass… May 31, 2013. I was traveling through Oklahoma hauling a trailer full of lumber. Halfway through the afternoon the sky turned a dark green, and I mean a really dark, evil kind of green that looked like something out of Lovecraft or shit like that. After another 3 miles or so at highway speed I got hit by the full RFD (rear flank downdraft)… 100 miles per hour straight line wind. Rain hitting the windshield like bullets. No visibility. Absolutely nothing. My trailer got pushed into an embankment and wedged in firmly. The embankment kept it from flipping the whole truck over. After about 20 minutes of this I saw the wind suddenly change direction very noticeably. It had been hitting me from the left side, and then it was head on, battering right against my windshield. I thought “ain’t that some funny shit right there, I might go airborne now…”… Hours later I found out that the storm had spawned a 2.6 mile wide monster tornado just one county away from where I was. Wind speed recorded at over 325 miles per hour by local weather center at Norman. It was by the grace of God that it had not struck a populated area, or the destruction could have been cataclysmic. It was completely wrapped in heavy rain and even from miles away it looked like a solid wall moving along the sky as said by observers. I had been struck by one of the inflow bands of air going into that monster. The thing was at least 3-4 miles away from me but even at that distance I felt it’s effects. There were also multiple vortexes in that monster, spinning all around it, also invisible. 3 people who were veteran storm researchers died in that thing. Shredded to bits. Even their SUV was barely recognizeable as a truck after itvwas recovered from a field… I didn’t see shit that day except that massive RFD almost flipping me over off the highway. If that thing moved south by just 10 degrees, I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now…

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