More than 70 percent of urban Chinese singles getting nearer to their "expiry date" for marriage are in the grip of depression, according to China's first survey of their mental health.
"Many women who have reached a certain age like me need to make a lot of effort to ward off marriage pressure from our parents, as they keep bringing up the topic," said a 29-year-old woman surnamed Qi in Shanghai.
Qi, who has a good job in a foreign-invested enterprise, said she has seen an increased incidence of depression among the unmarried people around her. "I admit that I want a husband, but I won't get married only for marriage's sake," she said.
These "leftover" men and women, as they are called in Chinese, are defined by the All-China Women's Federation as single women above the age of 27 and single men older than 30.Tip o' the hat to Tania Branigan, the Guardian's China correspondent, for the link. While I wouldn't normally suggest anyone read the China Daily, I would recommend clicking on the link, if only for the graphic. (Hi, Xan!)
What's the answer, you ask? Simple -- turn to the government!
Leftover women and men face greater risks of mental and physical problems, said Han Xiaohong, president of Beijing-based Ciming Health Checkup Management Group, which carried out the survey with the Chinese Medical Doctor Association.
According to the survey, 21.6 percent of the leftover women and men are subject to long-term sexual repression, while only 17.6 percent have regular sex partners. Visiting prostitutes and having multiple sex partners have become two main causes of sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS.
"The government should invest money to hold more matchmaking activities for these leftover people," said Wang Zhiguo, an expert with the marriage research center of baihe.com, one of the most popular matchmaking websites in China.Government-sponsored matchmaking? Hey, it's worked a treat in Singapore. More after the jump.
I can't read that without recalling the Ice Box Man bit from George Carlin's "A Place For My Stuff" album.
"What a sad word that is, leftover. How would you like to be a leftover? Well, it wouldn't be bad if they were taking people out to be shot. I might even volunteer!
But leftovers make you feel good twice. You ever think about that? Leftovers give you two separate good feelings. When you first put them away, you feel really intelligent. 'I'm saving food!' And then, after a month, when hair is growing out of them, and you throw them away, you feel really intelligent. 'I'm saving my life!'"This marriage phenomenon isn't exclusive to China, of course -- it's not even exclusive to Asia, in fact. However, with countries such as Japan, Taiwan and others facing the prospect of cratering birth rates and graying populations, the issue of young people marrying and producing more
Heck, the Chinese are generous. In Japan, a woman could be past her sell-by date at 25.
Chikako Ogura, professor of gender studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, draws little comfort from government proposals to reverse the trend, such as adding child-care facilities and prodding employers to grant maternity leave.
The critical problem is that people aren't getting married at all. Young women have jobs and reject a marriage that won't deliver a more comfortable life, she says. Studies show men spend on average less than 10 minutes a day on housework while working women put in two hours.
"Women are looking for a marital partner who'll allow them to do whatever they want. They want a marriage that's perfect, economically and mentally. There aren't that many men who can offer that," Ogura said. "And they're all taken."Stories like these most often crop up during the holiday corridor from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day. The end of that four-month window comes on Monday with a celebration of love/evening of snark-filled kvetching for people in relationships/singles (delete as necessary). Of course, those of us at Globe Towers have reason to celebrate regardless of relationship status -- it's a non-printing day thanks to Tuesday's public holiday marking the birth of the prophet Muhammad. Huzzah!
As I've said before, I have zero social life and, if I'm honest, I'm not all that interested in one at the moment. Not that I'm one to begrudge people who find love, of course -- it's just not an area of expertise for me. Probably the only reason I've had love/romance on the brain was seeing a flurry of appearances by Sheril Kirshenbaum promoting her new book, "The Science of Kissing."
Most of the reviews I've seen so far are positive, including this one from the always awesome Phil Plait. I've already got a stack of unread books that would choke a horse, though, so with the greatest respect to Ms. Kirshenbaum and her efforts, I'll wait for the paperback. Maybe by then I'll have more of a reason to be interested in kissing.