Last week a video advertisement from skincare brand SK-II showed the world why unmarried Asian women over 25 should not be considered ‘leftover’.
The video tells the stories of young women who’ve faced huge pressure (manipulation?) from family and friends to marry, and have been dubbed ‘incomplete’ and ‘leftover’ from failing to marry before 25. These women decide to deliver a personal message to their parents at the ‘marriage market’, which is like a real-life notice board of eligible sons and daughters complete with photographs and personal info on income, jobs and house and car ownership.
Instead of listing all those reasons they’re eligible for marriage, the ‘leftover’ women display those reasons they don’t want to be married just yet. “I have a great career and there is another term called ‘power woman'” one woman wrote, “I want to take the time to find the right person”, another said.
Let’s go one better.
Not only are these single women ‘not leftover’, they’re actually under-the-radar revolutionaries, changing history and reshaping society through their choices to be ‘free-willed’, ‘stubborn’ and picky’ (the words of their parents, not mine).
Or, more accurately, through their decisions to pursue a career, wait to find ‘the one’ and put their individual happiness over the pressures of society.
“The rise of the single woman is an exciting turn of historical events because it entails a complete rethinking of who women are and what family is and who holds dominion within it — and outside it,” author of new book All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of the Independent Nation Rebecca Traister wrote in New York Magazine.
Unfortunately not everyone holds the same opinion. The Chinese continue to see unmarried women as ‘incomplete’ and western society holds a similar preconception. Marriages and kids is so often touted as the ‘be all and end all’ of a woman’s journey.
But what about those women who are making a difference outside of these roles? Who are changing how we view women?
The SK-II Marraige Market Takeover video on why unmarried women over 30 should not be considered ‘leftover’. Post continues below.
In Australia, the number of single women in their 30s has almost doubled since 1986. According to the latest census single adult women for the first time now outnumber married adult women in the US.
That’s a lot of girl-power outside of marriage. Power that’s potentially focused on building careers, constructing identities, dissecting politics and… changing the world.
“We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood as a norm, not an aberration, and the creation of an entirely new population: adult women who are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry,” Traister wrote.
“While they are not often credited for it, single women’s changed circumstances are what’s driving a political agenda that seems to become more progressive every day.”
Why are women staying single for longer?
Maybe because we’re getting educated. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of degree-educated women aged 25 to 34 rose from 37.7% to 40.3% in the last year. For males, the number remains below 30%.
Higher education is a way for women to build a career and live independently.
This education means women are more aware of the society around them, and the social changes that might improve this structure.
Most importantly, education puts women in a better position to make these changes happen.
It’s the living independently token that Traister believes is impacting politics so heavily.
“The practicalities of female life independent of marriage give rise to demands for pay equity, paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, universal pre-K, lowered college costs, more affordable health care, and broadly accessible reproductive rights,” she wrote.
“Many of these are issues that have, for years, been considered too risky to be central to mainstream Democratic conversation, yet they are policies today supported by both Democratic candidates for [American] president.”
Australia has seen a similar phenomenon.
Recall Tony Abbott. The “abortion-is-a-national-tragedy-and-an-easy-way-out”‘ Prime Minister that was ousted late last year.
In August of 2015, just before Abbott was replaced as Prime Minister, a Fairfax-Ipsos poll found 44% of men preferred Abbott as prime minister over the opposition leader Bill Shorten. Only 34% of women felt the same. Performance ratings showed a similar story, with 40% of male voters approving of Abbott’s performance, compared to 31% of female voters.
Now, under the new Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, these stats are changing. Why?
Because Turnbull is appointing more women to leadership positions. He’s taken a massive stand on domestic violence. And the possibility of better access to abortion is much greater under Turnbull’s leadership.
The power of addressing these issues is seen in the numbers.
In October last year, after Turnbull took the reigns, polls showed more women than men were on board with the liberal party (68% compared to 66%) – or that potential liberal votes from women had doubled, compared to when Abbott was at the helm.
This shows, that with an ever-growing population of single, educated and powerful women in Australia, it’s more likely than ever before that the issues that are important to women will be considered and addressed by our politicians.
That, right there, is how we’re changing the world.