China's 'Leftover Ladies' Are Anything But

Urban women are deferring marriage—or not even bothering
Photograph by Philip Gostelow

Since Scarlet He was born in 1972, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, values in China have changed. Over lunch at a Hong Kong-style restaurant on the fifth floor of a Beijing shopping mall, she explains that of her seven best girlfriends growing up, all have gone to college and pursued careers. Only two are married, while the others have either divorced or, like her, simply never gotten around to it. “Happily never married,” the 40-year-old entrepreneur adds. “Marriage is only for having children.” In her view, it wasn’t necessarily good for relationships. “Once you are married, the man begins to take you for granted. But I am still free.”

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