From “Leftover Women” to “Leftover Men”: The Predicament of Masculinity and Marriage in Contemporary China (68456)

Session Information: Sexuality, Gender, Families
Session Chair: Kenneth Reinicke

Saturday, 27 May 2023 15:10
Session: Session 4
Room: Room 703
Presentation Type:Oral Presentation

With the gender inequality implicated in the derogatory term “leftover women” being contested in gender studies (To 2013; Gaetano 2014; Ji 2015; Gui 2020), the problems of “leftover men” also rise to the attention, whereas they are portrayed from the contrastive lens: bachelors from poverty-stricken areas who are seen as the potential risk of society. Few studies have so far shed light on the social and economic counterpart of “leftover women” – bachelors who are highly educated and financially advantageous but are often regarded as a privileged group unbound from social and traditional constraints. This article conducts in-depth interviews with five unmarried Chinese men, to investigate their perceptions about love, marriage, and family. The discursive analysis of their narratives suggests that the modern model of marriage is understood as an egalitarian relationship based on communication and cooperation, but their aspirations for an independent and intellectual partner imply the value crisis in Chinese modernity in which education and knowledge are materialized as status symbols which equal to social wealth. Viewing family bonding as an ultimatum of romance suggests that Confucian norms of family have been internalized in the modern relationship in China. This explains the predicament where most Chinese men cannot break through the heteronormative norms of masculinity, which is to play the dominant role of a breadwinner in the marriage. The patrilineal constraints on masculinity are passed on to women, manifesting the problems brought by “compressed modernity”.

Qianting Lu, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

About the Presenter(s)
Ms Qianting Lu is a University Doctoral Student at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00