Spring Festival was a torture for me, a sad truth that I have to admit. "When will you be married?" haunted me all the way through the eight-day holiday. Single at 25, I am urged to "catch" the right man as early as possible or be regarded as a "leftover" woman in most of my relatives' eyes, a term, I believe, is discriminative against females.
Explaining my relationship status to my "warmhearted" aunties was part of my daily routine. "Men will become more attractive as they age, but females won't. This is the way it is." "I gave birth to two babies when I was your age. You should put your marriage at the top of your agenda. Otherwise, you will be laughed at by others if you are still alone after 25." "Spend more time dating. Believe me, this is for your own good." These caring words bombarded me from the first day of the holiday to the last. My relatives were so anxious about my marriage, and it seems that being "leftover" at 25 is something that I should be embarrassed about.
Honestly speaking, I enjoy the status of being single. Every time I look through my colleagues' tweets and photos about their post-marriage life online, I feel happy to be "leftover." Unlike my married friends who are buried under piles of household chores, baby-related tasks and tedious marital responsibilities, I am delighted to spend my time on reading, shopping, traveling and whatever captures my interest. For me, being single means more time and freedom. Not shackled by marital obligations, "leftover" women, with daily workouts at the gym, reading two books a week and taking one trip a month, sometimes have a better quality of life than their married counterparts. Why bother to "catch" a boyfriend to break the balance of my life? In most cases, being single cannot be equated with being leftover.
Moreover, marriage is a personal choice that deserves respect. Everyone has the freedom and right to choose his/her way of life. However, "leftover" women, especially those over 25, are always being told by relatives, friends and even some media outlets to be ashamed of their status of being single. To be frank, every time my relatives persuade me to "catch" the right man, I do not feel comfortable or being respected. I totally understand that my relatives just want me to be well-protected and cared for by the right person, but my choice to stay single needs to be understood. I would feel more respected if my aunties show less concerns about my personal life.
There is another interesting phenomenon that the term "leftover" is always used for "women" rather than "men." This is discrimination. For many old-fashioned Chinese, women in their 20s are at the optimal age for marriage as their looks is believed to gradually fade away and their chances of getting married become smaller. But, men follow a totally opposite pattern - more popular in their 40s, with status and wealth, than in their 20s, poor and struggling. Therefore, women should get themselves married as early as possible.
This may be true in the feudal times when men enjoy absolute power and wealth. But times have changed. Women now have equal status with, and can sometimes accumulate more wealth than men. An economically independent woman does not have to worry about whether she would be a leftover. Females in their 40s, having seen much of the world, are sometimes more appealing than ignorant little girls.
The term "leftover women" has been hyped up in recent years. While the whole society should show more tolerance and respect to our personal life, we need to be strong in the face of suspicions and discriminations as well. Being single at 25 is nothing strange, a fact that society should accept and respect.