Cattolica Chinese Students Association - To Be a Woman In China

The One-Child policy, social pressures and patriarchy

They are precious, gold for those who want to get married and create a family, and yet they still need to be heard.They are women.

What it’s like to be a woman in China?

In the long history of China, the conception of women changed a lot. Certainly, the women of the upper class had a different treatment compared to the one who came from the lower classes. However, the sad global phenomenon known as “Sexism” has never ceased to exist.

Since the ancient times, families from all over the world favoured sons over daughters, because they were seen both as a strong source of labour force and as a concrete possibility of inheriting the family name. There is even an old Italian motto that consists of wishing married couples “Joy and male heirs”.

Luckily, nowadays many countries have stopped sharing this idea, even in China the situation is getting better day by day, even though it is still one of the most sexist countries in the world.

Up to the present day, China has taken many actions to change things.

The communist party has fought with success in these years to create a female working class.

Furthermore, Mao Zedong policy helped by promoting the figure of a strong woman, who supported the development of the society, and so for the first time being a housewife was not an obligation anymore, and women could finally aspire to a new revolutionary model, the “Iron Girl”, a strong and hardworking, educated woman.

Nowadays, in China, women are still considered socially inferior to men, because the patriarchal society is very resilient, so, even if the women are working and having a successful career, they are still succumbing to the social pressure, especially if they are unmarried.

The single over 25 years old women are called shèng nu (剩女), which literally translates to “leftover women”, a bad and unfitting word which causes so much shame to the family itself. But in reality, women are stronger than what we imagine, so strong they can crash any kind of discrimination.

Being a woman, means to prove every single day the fact that they are as good as men, not only in China. Even though many countries are reaching gender equality, it is still a problem in many others.

If there is even one single woman oppressed by patriarchy, then no woman in the whole world will be really free.

Today, 8th of March, the International Women’s Day, I invite you to reflect on this.

Written by Yuan Lucy Lu
Translated in English by Yuan Lucy Lu and Michele Fogliata