中国单身女性的困境 : 多元交叉的社会压力和歧视

The Dilemma of Chinese Single Women : Understanding Oppression and Discrimination from an Intersectional Perspective

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Detail(s)

Original languageChinese (Simplified)
Pages (from-to)117-128
Journal / Publication浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版)
Volume48
Issue number2
Online published28 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2018

Abstract

随着中国单身人口比例的上升,单身人群特别是单身女性群体受到了社会各个层面的关注。目前国内对单身女性的研究主要通过深度访谈来探讨单身未婚女性的身心和生活状态,缺乏系统的理论观照,且访谈样本又大都局限于大城市的中产阶层单身未婚女性,因而限制了研究成果的代表性。从交叉性理论出发,分析中国单身女性面临的宏观(儒家文化和人口调控压力)、中观(媒体的形象控制和代际压力)和微观(性别歧视、年龄歧视和单身歧视)的多元交叉压力和歧视,厘清目前单身女性所受到的压力和歧视,从不同阶层单身女性的需求出发,才能为她们提供切实有效的帮助,并有助于解决目前我国单身人口比例上升的问题,缓解人口老龄化的压力。
Similar to many other countries, the populations of singles in China have been rapidly increasing. The rise of single population is mainly driven by the advanced education and economic empowerment-singles intentionally postpone their marriage or even choose to stay unmarried because marriage seems to offer few incentives for personal development. This effect is particularly strong for single women, especially professional women. The proportion of never-married women aged between 25 and 29 in China has risen by 13% whereas the proportion of singles aged above 25 only increases by 1% from 2000 to 2010. Despite such significant changes, marriage norms remain strong in China. Confucian values consider settling down as a prerequisite of better career development and family welfare. The accelerating aging process also calls for more marriages, which presumably would booster the already low fertility rate.
It has been widely documented that Chinese single women face significantly more pressure than Chinese single men, mainly for failing to fulfill the traditional gender role. While acknowledging the oppressive reality, most studies use a dichotomization perspective that considers gender as the most defining factor in creating the dilemma of Chinese single women. In this paper, we argue that there is a more significant complexity in the production of oppressive reality. Indeed, single women in different age groups, with different education levels or in different social classes have different experiences when they negotiate for their single identity. We instead introduce the intersectionality framework, which argues that gender interacts with other social identity/divisions (e.g., class, age, education, religion) to create multi-layered oppression and discrimination. Such intersectional oppression occurs on multiple and often simultaneous levels, and is deeply embedded in various interpersonal processes (e.g., social exclusion for single women), bureaucratic practices (e.g., single enjoy less rights and welfare), hierarchical structures (e.g., single women with higher socioeconomic status have more negotiation power), and hegemonic ideologies (e.g., women need to respect masculinity and patriarchy in marriage or family).
The paper later extensively discusses how the intersectional oppression is manifested on macro-, meso- and micro- levels in the context of mainland China. On the macro-level, the intersecting influences mostly operate via ideological forces, policy-making and institutional acts. Confucianism continuously defines a set of subordinate controlling images for Chinese women. Young women are expected to pursue certain life events in a given sequence. State power is a critical agent in creating institutional oppression for single women. In general, there is little recognition of this population in terms of social policy and legislation. On the contrary, the aging process even motivates Chinese government to privilege marriage and cultivate hostile public opinions towards single women.
On the meso-level, controlling images are vividly manifested in public agenda. Media is one of the critical agents that negatively depict single womanhood. The gender media portrayals have been widely documented in terms of professional images, domestic roles, interpersonal power, etc. When it comes to single women, Chinese media are devoted to stereotype single women as picky, lonely, deviant, as well as having unrealistic expectation for love and marriage. On the other hand, anxious parents have also rendered single womanhood a salient issue on public agenda. One-child Policy leaves Chinese parents no choice other than intervening their daughter's mate selection.
On the micro-level, Chinese single women face multiple and intersecting oppressions rooted in sexism, marriage norm, ageism and social class. On the Chinese marriage market, youth, beauty, fertility, and marriage record are all pricing factors that determine a lady's mating value. Such interlocking discrimination is further complicated by social class. Single women in middle- and upper-classes have more negotiation power to downplay the importance of relationship and frame their single status as positive and self-enhancing.

Research Area(s)

  • 单身女性, 交叉性理论, 多元压力, 人口调控, 性别歧视, single women, intersectionality theory, multi-layered oppression, population regulation, gender discrimination