I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by so many strong women in my life.
From my amazing mother who has always been and done exactly what she wanted, who has been a pillar or strength, and never let anyone tell her that she “couldn’t do what she wanted.” To my best friend who, even under pressure from her parents who have always told her to get married, have children, and settle down, has always done things in her own way and her own time, just as we all should.
Make or female, we should all be able to live the lives that we want, and have the people that love us support those decisions, but that’s unfortunately not always the case.
In China, women over the age of 25 who are not married are still referred to as “Sheng Nu,” which literally translates to ‘leftover woman.’ In a new film by International Prestige Skincare Brand SK-ll, women in China and the world over declare they are ready for a big change: a change for the better, and as a man, it’s my right, my choice, my obligation to show my support and to share this story.
Like our prime minister Justin Treadau says, “I am a feminist” and I’m really starting to understand that.
Last year, International Prestige Skincare Brand SK-ll, launched #changedestiny – an ongoing global campaign to inspire and empower women to shape their own destiny. As a part of this campaign, SK-II has been sharing stories of women who overcame challenges and barriers that were preventing them from achieving their dreams and goals. The success stories of these women have become a source of inspiration to women around the world. In keeping with this theme, they are now premiering the film ”Marriage Market,” putting a spotlight on the real-life issue of Chinese women being pressured to get married before they turn 25. In it, a number of brave Chinese women have daringly chosen to speak their mind about one of the most controversial subjects in recent Chinese history, the “Sheng Nu” label.
According to The New York Times, the term was made popular by the All-China Women’s Federation in 2007 and translates to “leftover woman.” As has been reported by the BBC, The New York Times and China Daily, the term has been used to denounce women who, regardless of the reason, want to wait for marriage. Whether it’s women who simply want to marry for love, rather than meeting deadline, or any other of a plethora of reasons – isn’t that the choice every woman should be free to make without being call “leftover?”
As the film shows, marrying for love can be easier said than done. In many Chinese cities, so-called marriage markets are a common sight. Here, parents go to post, compare and match personal ads, listing the height, weight, salary, values and personality of their sons and daughters. In some cases, women are unaware that their parents have listed them at a marriage market. The markets are a symbol of the different views on marriage between two generations which led to the pressure put on women by their families. In the film, many interviewees describe that they are torn between trying to meet their parents’ expectations to build a family, while at the same time wanting to choose their own path in life.
With this campaign, SK-II is taking a positive approach in helping these women face the pressure and the film shows the marriage market in Shanghai’s People’s Park being taken over. A huge and beautiful installation was made with SK-II’s own “marriage ads” that were, in fact, not ads, but messages from hundreds of independent women, stating that they want to be in control of their own destiny. By doing so, a platform was created for women to safely voice their thoughts.
On this platform, the women are shown to be happy, independent and confident – the opposite of the desperate image of Sheng Nus often being portrayed. The women tell the world how they see themselves and ask for better understanding.
In addition to taking a stand for their right to marry (or not) in their own time, these women are asking for support to help change the perception of the word. They want to reconstruct the mutual respect between generations, increase society’s understanding of women’s rights to choose their own paths in life freely and take control of their destinies.
I hope you will join them and show your support, share your story using the hashtag #changedestiny, and for all the men out there: embrace being a feminist, as our understanding and support are what will help us to learn, grow, and make for a better world for everyone.
Isn’t it time we all had the chance to live our destiny?