Note for readers outside of China: The title of my book Do Not Marry Before Age 30 addresses one of the hottest social issues in China today, the stigma of the “leftover woman.” Chinese women face extreme social pressure to marry by age 25 or be labeled leftover. The stigma is everywhere in pop culture – on the web, in movies, on reality dating shows. Women as young as 22 tell me they’re leftover!
The leftover-woman stigma is leading to serious problems today in China. First, it’s pressuring people to marry very young – resulting in exploding divorce rates. Once known for its stable marriages, China now suffers from the ‘China-style divorce;’ one-third of marriages in Shanghai and Beijing now end in divorce. The main driver of divorce is the born-post-1980 generation. Chinese society now is producing an entire generation of children of divorce.
Second, the leftover-woman stigma leads to a sense of sadness and isolation among so many otherwise beautiful, wonderful, creative young Chinese women. I wrote my book for them, and for all the women of China.
To Chinese women everywhere:
My book Do Not Marry Before Age 30 is my love letter to Chinese women everywhere. Whether you’re single, married, divorced or widowed, whether or not you have children, this book is for you. It’s a book on finding success, happiness, and love.
As I sat down to write this book, I realized that the path to success for women today is very different than for men. Indeed, all the cultural pressures that for centuries have constrained Chinese women’s lives are encapsulated in one modern-day command: Marry young – and jump into women’s traditional role as wife and mother – or risk being a leftover woman.
This is a book about my own evolution from a shy and scared young Chinese girl in America into a global citizen and take-no-shit older woman. It’s about how I was appointed Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles at age 31, and my later work headhunting for global companies. And this is a book about love, about how I found Dave, and how you can use advanced headhunting techniques to bag the man of your dreams. In these pages I lay bare the things I know now that I wish I’d known when I was starting out. My triumphs, my regrets. The things I would do over again if only I could. Recollections that make me laugh, memories that make me cry.
But this isn’t just a book of my own experiences. Rather, the book is the culmination of a year of research into the nature of success, and love and happiness. This research drew me into the worlds of neurology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and biology, to name a few. The research and learning part of this year was fun and fascinating. The hard part was synthesizing all these new insights and organizing them into a coherent work.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
For our mothers and grandmothers, a man was husband material if he had a job, didn’t drink too much, and didn’t beat you. That doesn’t cut it for us. We don’t want just any man; we want a good man. We don’t want a marriage based on duty. We want love. In the words of the idealistic Charlotte in Sex and the City, we want to “dream the impossible dream!”
And that’s just in the marriage department. In our careers, we want to soar as well. We worked – so hard – for all that education, and now we want to put it to use and do something. We don’t want to just survive in society. We want to lead society.
And so we find ourselves at this strange in-between moment in Chinese history. We’re surrounded by people who tell us that what we’re looking for is unrealistic. They tell us to hurry up, settle down, make a baby. And yet… we can’t. Now that we want more, we can’t go back to wanting less. No longer can we live out our lives by simply going along with what’s expected of us.
We’re the first generation of women who want it all.
The possibilities ahead seem endless, and that’s exhilarating. But at the same time, they’re deeply confusing. Now that we can do anything, what should we do?
This is a book of strategy. I do not have all the answers. I have not learned all of life’s lessons. I still have a lot of living to do myself.
You may or may not agree with everything I have to say. My goal is not to convince you of anything, but simply to start a conversation: Here’s what I think. What do you think?
Here’s the Table of Contents:
Foreword by Yue-Sai Kan
Chapter 1: Why young women falter
Chapter 2: Down with society’s fantasy of marriage
Chapter 3: What is love?
Chapter 4: You just wanna marry a rich guy, right?
Chapter 5: Solitude and the lost art of creativity
Chapter 6: Be true to yourself
Chapter 7: Explore the vast possibilities of your life
Chapter 8: The power of perspective
Chapter 9: Should you have sex with your boss to get ahead?
Chapter 10: Where are all the good men?
Chapter 11: Married men and other Mr. Wrongs
Chapter 12: Even a successful woman can be a fox
Chapter 13: Date 100 Men. Three at a time.
Chapter 14: Make your own life decisions
Chapter 15: Love the world
Appendix: Dave has something to say
The book is priced in China at 32 RMB. That’s less than 1% of the price of that LV handbag you’ve had your eye on! But it will be worth more to you than the LV bag.
Working on this book made me realize that, even though the circumstances of our lives differ, many of the big questions that we as women face are the same. And yet we never talk about them, even with our closest friends. I believe that there’s huge value to be gained through the fun and fascinating conversations we as women can have amongst ourselves. This book is aimed at helping spark those conversations everywhere.
In the words of the late great American writer Gore Vidal, “A book exists on many different levels. Half the work of a book is done by the reader—the more he can bring to it the better the book will be for him, the better it will be in its own terms.” Never has this been more true than with my book. That my book already has become a best-seller in China is testament to the amazing spirit and vitality of Chinese women today.
Dear reader, I hope that this book encourages you to go out and find the right answers for your life. I hope that this book encourages you to be brave, to dare to ignore the rules, to go out and grab hold of everything in this world that you know you deserve.