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Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China
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Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  41 reviews
After China's Communist revolution of 1949, Chairman Mao famously proclaimed that "women hold up half the sky." In the early years of the People's Republic, the Communist Party sought to transform gender relations with expansive initiatives such as assigning urban women jobs in the planned economy. Yet those gains are now being eroded in China's post-socialist era. Contrar ...more
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published April 10th 2014 by Zed Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Petra Eggs
DNF, regretfully. This book started off well enough. Despite the one-child policy having meant that 30 million or more men will never find wives, any woman over 30 (at latest) is despised as past her prime, past her most fertile years and is called a "leftover woman".

Men traditionally had stayed at home to look after the family farm, business and parents but daughters were free to seek (generally low-paid) work anywhere they chose. As China in developing it's new form of capitalism did not excl
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating look at the difference between reality and social control efforts in modern China.

In point of fact, in China there are no "leftover women"; the stats show (depending on area), anything from 110 men to 100 women on up. In some rural districts, as described in this book, unmarried men outnumber unmarried women at over 2:1!

One would think, then, that society and the political machine would realize that women are a relatively scarce and valuable resource, especially since both
Shen Yang
May 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Leta Hong Fincher was a journalist before completing a PhD in Sociology at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. This book is based on her PhD project on the under-researched connections between leftover women, China’s property market, and gender inequality. Fincher has previously written articles discussing similar issues for the New York Times, CNN, and Ms. Magazine, through which these topics have already gained some popularity. With an abundance of interview quotes and contemporaneous media reports ...more
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it

This is definitely a four star book! Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Equality in China by Leta Hong Fincher makes me think of the 1950s in the United States. That was when women were encouraged to be home and take care of the family, instead of competing with men for a high paying jobs. Even though they had proved their ability by putting together airplanes and ships, they were suddenly relegated to the kitchen, to take care of the children and to keep their husbands happy.

This was a bi
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A sobering and fascinating look at gender dynamics in present day China. It is absolutely amazing to me how people can be pressured into doing things that blatantly go against their own self interest thanks for governmental, family and media influence. This book reminds me yet again about the major differences between China and the West and makes me doubly appreciate living in the United States. Written in a clear way appropriate for both scholars and non-scholars alike, Leftover Women was a rel ...more
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So angry. A table flipping inducing book.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book and will never think about gender relations in China the same way. I was skeptical about gender equality there after my own experience, but Hong Fincher shows how much greater that disparity has become in the last decade since the property boom and new laws came into being. The book flowed well and was well organized. It was less about the leftover women themselves than what it would mean to be without a spouse in China or how women go into marriages so they can own ...more
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 中国, women
I really wanted to love this book - in the Venn diagram of women's rights and contemporary China I am firmly in the middle. There were several aspects that held me back, and would have likely deterred someone with less of an aggressive enthusiasm for the subject matter.

The text is not about the resurgence of gender inequality in China as much as it is about specific ways in which a particular subset of women in China are being commodified and denied rights. These are urban, affluent, educated,
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in women's rights
An important book. Offering a close look at the real estate boom and how property rights are practiced, Leta Hong Fincher offers a comprehensive overview of the ways women's rights are undermined today in post-socialist China. It's hard to read without feeling overwhelmed by outrage by the constant discrimination women face. Hong Fincher clearly documents how the forces of the market economy, the authoritarian state, and old-fashioned patriarchy converge to undermine women's autonomy, support ma ...more
Matthew Green
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Leftover Women isn't strictly about "leftover" women, so the title is a bit misleading. Rather, the book is an overview of the multiple ways gender inequality is becoming more pronounced in contemporary Chinese society. The strongest part is the opening portion where Hong Fincher focuses on "leftover" women specifically, documenting the remarkably harsh ways they are culturally stigmatized. While I suggest the book to those with an interest in gender and/or China, it tends to be unnecessarily re ...more
Kate Walton
A lot of interesting ideas, statistics, and stories in here, but it ended up being much more about women's property rights than I had expected. I appreciated the chapter on LGBTQ Chinese, though.
Anne Bradley
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I learned some few things, but this book - which seems to be a PhD dissertation - reads like one.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, china
Fincher's Leftover Women offers a rare insight into China's perennially overlooked problem of gender inequality, manifested in the most representative phenomenon of shengnv or "leftover women", a derogatory term which, according to Fincher, referred an urban, professional female in her late twenties or older who are still single -- a definition, albeit not perfectly comprehensive, did encompass most of the problems entailed.

The book relies predominantly on interview transcripts, news reports, as
Rishabh Agnihotri
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
How I came across this book:

A friend of mine recommended to me another book on the same subject "leftover in china" ( I looked at the reviews and curiously came upon this review which referenced allegations of erasure of Fincher's work ( Naturally, I decided to read this first.


It is a wonderful book that immaculately compiles and discusses the author's own research on how the Chinese government has systema
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
So many times as I was reading this book, I realized how completely ignorant I am of what is going on in China. While I assumed equality between men and women was improving, this book demonstrates that the state has played a major role recently in pushing traditional gender norms. Women who don't marry by 25 are called "leftover women" and ostracized by society. Rather than wait to find someone right for them, they often rush into marriage which ultimately harms them financially and even physica ...more
Louise Pennington
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important text on the disintegrating rights of women in China. Frequently, I was so enraged that I wanted to toss the book out the window as it listed the ways in which the Chinese government manipulates and punishes women: through housing polices, a refusal to recognise MVWAG, and creating a fallacious and cruel category of women labelled ‘leftover’.

The information in this text is essential, unfortunately it was let down by some repetitive language. The book is based on the authors
Ming Jiu Li
Quick, accessible read. Some of the arguments I found a little tenuous and narrow, overly-focused on the inequality in real estate wealth accumulation, which would make sense in a paper but appeared a little drawn out in a full book. I would have loved to read more tangents in the book; for example the discussion of women's status in the Song dynasty on was enlightening. The chapter on intimate partner violence was a harrowing read, and an important reminder of how significant and marginalized a ...more
Kathy Chan
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-reread
Very very insightful book. I've learned a lot just going through it and rereading sections at a time to more efficiently consume all of the information within this book. Prior to reading this, I've had a general idea the concept of "Leftover Women" and have gone to art exhibits in the past that have touched on the idea of "Leftover Women" but never to this extent.

I will definitely come back to read this text again and possibly want to dive into more texts revolving the realm of feminism and act
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
An eye opener on the Sheng Nu phenomena and its dramatic impact on young women in China.

In 2007, the Women’s Federation defined “leftover” women (sheng nu ) as unmarried women over the age of 27 and China’s Ministry of Education added the term to its official lexicon. Since then, the Women’s Federation Web site has run articles stigmatizing educated women who are still single. An odd move for an agency in charge of women empowerment in a country often thought as having advanced gender equality s
Enrique Mañas
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rather than focusing on the study of the phenomena of leftover women in China (the first chapter deals with this), the book wobbles between a few topics regarding the gender inequality in China (from domestic violence to marriage culture or social pressure over "sheng nu" women). The book provides a good bunch of references at the end, something always worthy of appreciation when reading an essay. It will definitely help understand better the current gender inequality scenario in China.
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I like the point that the author had noticed and studied -the leftover women phenomenon in China. Her narration is easy for reading too, more like a journalist telling a story softly and interestingly. But the lack of sufficient supportive evidence and the small number of participants impaired the authenticity of this "paper".
Federico Fattori
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
An interesting topic, badly researched by a biased journalist who uses instrumentally her fieldwork data (mostly interviews) to confirm a pre-conceived thesis. A fairly good journalistic report, a very bad academic investigation.
Epiphanie Bloom
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would give this book four and a half stars if I could.
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
⭐⭐⭐ This book was heartbreaking and frustrating in equal measures. Although it was interesting I didn't find it unnecessary repetitive, then again so is the misogynistic values of China. ...more
Sasha Strader
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book brings up some very difficult points and has done a very good job of finding out the data when the government in question is doing its best to hide it. That said, after the first chapter it becomes a very tedious read with multiple references to other chapters and points back to things said in the first chapter. It almost reads, at times, like a college student struggling to make a word limit.
Sasha Strader
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book brings up some very difficult points and has done a very good job of finding out the data when the government in question is doing its best to hide it. That said, after the first chapter it becomes a very tedious read with multiple references to other chapters and points back to things said in the first chapter. It almost reads, at times, like a college student struggling to make a word limit.
M. Gilliland
..''Leftover Women should carry a health warning: this book will severely raise your blood pressure. Leta Hong Fincher's subject – researched through statistical analysis, sociological surveys and extensive first-hand interviewing – is the toxic vitality of sexism in China today''. can read the first 19 pages free on Amazon
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's a brief introduction about how women's life is in china. But still something is missing. Buying a house in shanghai is an privilege only for rich family. Most families in china could not afford a house in third class cities. The Arthur should dig deeper in rural women, who still suffer horrible things in China system.
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A shocking analysis of the - mostly nonexistent - rights of Chinese women. Cut back throughout the years after Mao and worsening now through tightened surveillance, social pressure viciously orchestrated by cooperating Chinese media.
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent book! I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned A LOT about modern Chinese society -- even though I had to listen to it through the computer voice of my Kindle!

"Leftover Women" is Book No. 22 for 2015!
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Leta Hong Fincher is a journalist and scholar who has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine, BBC, and CNN. She is the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for her reporting on China. Named by the Telegraph as an "awesome woman to follow" on social media, she lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter @letah ...more
“Li Fang is relieved that she found a husband just in the nick of time. The parents of the university graduate and former human resources manager in Beijing feared that their only daughter was getting old and might never be able to marry. Li worried that she would pass the 'best child-bearing age' and might no longer be able to give birth. She is 26."

-Leta Hong Fincher, "Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China”
“The very people the Chinese government would like to see having babies are highly educated urban women, who would be able to produce children with “superior” genetic make-up, and provide these children with the most nurturing environment possible.” 0 likes
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