Photo by Nora Tejada

Photo by Nora Tejada

Leta Hong Fincher 洪理达 is author of the critically acclaimed book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed, 2014). Leta's book was named one of the top 5 China books of 2014 by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile, one of the best foreign policy books in 2014 by FP Interrupted and one of the best Asian books of 2014 by Asia House. Leftover Women was also named on Verso and New Left Review's list of favorite books to read for International Women's Day in 2017 and 2016.

Leta has written for the New York Times, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine, BBC, CNN and others. She is the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for television feature reporting. Fluent in Mandarin, Leta is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University's Department of Sociology in Beijing. She has a master's degree from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree with high honors from Harvard University. She has often been quoted by news organizations such as BBC, CNN, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, TIME and The Economist on the subject of women and feminism in China. Leta was a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University and a Lecturer at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is currently writing her second book, tentatively titled Betraying Big Brother: China's Feminist Resistance, published by Verso.

Photo by Morgan Cohen

Photo by Morgan Cohen

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Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China

 A century ago, Chinese feminists fighting for the emancipation of women helped spark the Republican Revolution, which overthrew the Qing empire. 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. Contrary to many claims made in the mainstream media, women in China have experienced a dramatic rollback of many rights and gains relative to men.

Leftover Women debunks the popular myth that women have fared well as a result of post-socialist China's economic reforms and breakneck growth. It focuses on the far-reaching consequences of the Chinese state media propagation of the derogatory term "leftover" women or shengnü (剩女) to stigmatize professional, educated, urban women in their mid-twenties and older, and pressure them to marry and have a child.

Review excerpts

”Leta Hong Fincher’s ‘Leftover Women’ offers a...chilling account of the pressures on Chinese strivers...One hopes that “Leftover Women” will soon be translated into Chinese, as it is likely to resonate deeply with urban educated women. It seems the party has forgotten the Mao-era dictum: ‘Women Hold Up Half the Sky’.”
— New York Times Book Review by Judith Shapiro
“In ‘Leftover Women,’ Leta Hong Fincher convincingly argues that an orchestrated state campaign co-opts women to marry and buy marital homes, often to the detriment of their careers and financial independence.”
— Wall Street Journal Book Review, by Anjie Zheng
“In this commanding book Hong Fincher argues that China’s international image, celebrating the increasing education and wealth of its women, masks an alarming slide back towards deep gender inequality - and that the very education and wealth of Chinese women is being used against them.”
— Feminist and Women's Studies Association (UK & Ireland) Book Review by Carina Hart
“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.”
— The Guardian Book Review by Julia Lovell
“A timely, rich and intricately written book on gender equality in China...Hong Fincher’s work paints a broad and pervasive picture of women’s rights in post-socialist China gradually eroding. She delves into China’s patriarchal culture, the growth of its real estate wealth and the impact of the Communist Party’s central aim of maintaining social stability.”
— The Telegraph, by Marta Cooper
“A powerful — and provocative — argument that China’s female shortage, far from empowering women, has actually resulted in a situation where urban women’s rights are increasingly imperiled....It’s ‘Backlash’, China-style, on a scale Susan Faludi never envisioned, touching the lives of 650 million women, almost a fifth of all the women in the world.”
— L.A. Review of Books, by Mei Fong
“Hong Fincher, a doctoral candidate at Tsinghua University, describes a state-sponsored backlash against economically independent single women in urban China, and the growing wealth gap it enforces, in this highly suggestive study...The book serves as a vital introduction to gender issues in urban China.”
— Publishers Weekly Book Review
“Important and interesting...gender relations, in many ways so much more advanced in China than in India, are going backwards as traditions that were seemingly flattened by Mao re-emerge.”
— Financial Times Book Review, by David Pilling
“A compelling piece of original research...Leta Hong Fincher, an American journalist-turned-academic, argues that the same party that pushed through the elevation of women’s status in the 1950s is now trying to engineer their return to the kitchen.”
— The Economist Book Review
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中國剩女:性別歧視與財富分配不均的權力遊戲

晚婚,在中國為何是條不歸路?
年滿二十七歲的未婚女子為何被冠上「剩女」污名?


□大學以上學歷 □居住於大城市 □中產階級

在中國,一個單身女子只要符合以上條件,就是「官方認證」的「剩女」。她們又依照年紀區分「危險等級」,被戲稱婚姻的「剩鬥士」、「必剩客」、「鬥戰剩佛」和「齊天大剩」。媒體輿論與官方單位極盡所能地羞辱她們的單身處境,並將「剩女現象」從社會話題提升到國家危機的層級。

當本意為多餘的「剩」字使用在女性身上,則為中國媒體詆毀單身女性的運動添加了情緒共鳴。這個運動,其諷刺之處在於中國是個男性人口過盛的國家,一胎化政策、重男輕女和針對女嬰的墮胎導致兩性比例不均,官方稱之為「對社會穩定的威脅」。

在買房與房產登記不利於女性的社會結構下,
原有的經濟優勢瓦解,亟欲脫離單身的「剩女」反而陷入新危機!

為了解決這個社會威脅,並配合國家提升「人口素質」的政策,官方傾全力迫使高學歷女性「別工作了,盡早結婚」,為國家生出「優質」的嬰兒。在媒體推波助瀾之下,年輕女性因感受到來自社會輿論、父母與另一半的壓力,恐懼晚婚,為了早日擺脫「剩女」身分,容易接受不適宜的婚姻。

「剩女」們「積極」嚮往婚姻,卻在買房與財產分配上做出「消極」的妥協與配合:她們被傳統社會觀念與不公的法律制度剝奪了房子的所有權,情願讓不動產登記在丈夫名下,就算她們或她們的父母在買房中有很大貢獻,也是如此。失去了經濟優勢,更容易造成夫妻關係不對等的局面,在婚姻因家暴與外遇而解體時,更突顯她們所面臨的困境。

她們該如何在「三分之一的婚姻都以離婚告終」的中國獲得安身立命的機會?
面對壓迫,她們能夠找出方法,反撃根深蒂固的性別歧視嗎?

 
 
 
 
 
 

News reports featuring Leta Hong Fincher

China's 19th Party Congress: Interview with Leta Hong Fincher Foreign Policy Interrupted, October 20, 2017

Oh Look, China's Another Country That's Not Promoting Any Women Buzzfeed, October 19, 2017

Anger as Chinese media claim harassment is just a western problem The Guardian, October 17, 2017

As China Prepares for New Top Leaders, Women are Still Shut Out New York Times, July 16, 2017

Talking Policy: Leta Hong Fincher on Feminism in China World Policy Journal, June 2, 2017

Trump officials say the UN supports coercive abortion in China. But does it? PRI's The World, April 28, 2017

Are Chinese women still holding up half the sky? Market takes its toll on their hard-won rights Financial Express, March 15, 2017

"Old like Yellowed Pearls" - The Struggle of China's Leftover Women The Politic, February 10, 2017

Women in China: One step forward, two steps back The Irish Times, December 27, 2016

How Chinese feminists can inspire women to stand up to Trump The Guardian, November 23, 2016

China's Feminist Five Dissent Magazine, Fall 2016

Unmarried and 27? In China, That Makes You a "Leftover Woman" VOGUE Magazine, October 3, 2016

Gender Inequality in China: A conversation with Leta Hong Fincher CSIS China Power podcast August 30, 2016

Profile: Author Leta Hong Fincher explains how term 'leftover women' is Chinese propaganda South China Morning Post August 19, 2016

 In China, feminism is growing -- and so is the backlash Los Angeles Times June 15, 2016

China's "leftover women" and the left-out system Open Democracy May 16, 2016

SKII Causes Flood of Tears in China With "Leftover" Women Short Film Brand Channel April 28, 2016

Author Details Unapproved Cuts to "Leftover Women" China Digital Times April 21, 2016

Interview with ABC News 24 on China's 'leftover' women ABC News 24 April 16, 2016

SKII Takes on China's "Leftover" Women WWD April 17, 2016

Viral Ad Sparks Outpouring for "Leftover" Women in China VOA News April 12, 2016

Emotional advert about China's 'leftover' women goes viral BBC April 8, 2016

Emotional viral video empowers China's 'leftover' women Deutsche Welle April 8, 2016

SK II's new commercial challenges traditional attitudes towards marriage in China The Independent April 13, 2016

Leftover Women - How Millenial Women Must Fight Tradition Medium April 8, 2016

A Chinese feminist's defiant message to the government that jailed her Washington Post March 8, 2016

What future for women in Chinese higher education? Times Higher Education Jan 21, 2016

China’s domestic violence law is a victory for feminists. But they say it doesn’t go far enough. Washington Post Dec 29, 2015

'Leftover Women' reveals unequal shares of China’s growing wealth. Christian Science Monitor Dec 23, 2015

China's 'leftover women' fight back: Fincher. AFP Nov 2, 2015

Two's a crowd for many Chinese after one-child policy change. AFP Oct 30, 2015

China ends one-child policy, but it may be too lateMcClatchy News Oct 29, 2015

China's Other Women. Time Oct 22, 2015

Hillary Clinton called Xi’s speech ‘shameless,’ and the Web went wild. Washington Post Sep 28, 2015

Despite real progress, Chinese women may be losing groundWashington Post Sep 26, 2015 

China's Feminists will Mark Women's Conference with Deafening Silence. Guardian Sep 26, 2015

China's Feminists Won't Let the Government Stop Their Momentum. Buzzfeed Jul 6, 2015

Watering the gardens of others - China’s women are being shut out of the land and housing markets. The Economist Jun 12, 2015

Five Feminists Remain Jailed in China for Activities the Government Supports. Time Mar 19, 2015

China Detains 10 Feminist Activists, Totally Missing the Memo on How to Celebrate International Women's Day. Bustle Mar 12, 2015

For richer, for poorer: how China's laws put women second. Guardian Feb 24, 2015

China's Boyfriends for Hire. Foreign Affairs Feb 20, 2015

Home truths | At last, domestic violence is to be outlawed. The Economist Dec 4, 2014

China’s first anti-domestic violence law hailed as a step forward. Guardian Nov 26, 2014

China Has Finally Drafted a Domestic-Violence Law. Time Nov 26, 2014

Gender Inequality in China - Smokestack Nostalgia. BBC May 28, 2014

 
 
 
 

Interview with Leta Hong Fincher. Feminist Times Apr 16, 2014

 

On the Rise and Online: Female Consumers in Asia Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014

 
 
 

2017

Invited panelist, "Engaging China: Feminism and Women's Empowerment". Robert Bosch Stiftung, Berlin. July 2017.

Keynote speaker at Redefine Chinese Women's Leadership Conference. Barnard College. April 2017.

High-Level Roundtable on Women and Legislative Reform - University of Pennsylvania Law School/UN Women, New York. March 2017.

Yale Law School - Rebellious Lawyering: Feminist and LGBTQ Activism Under Authoritarianism. February 2017.

2016

Women in Publishing Society, Hong Kong. June 2016.

Association for Asian Studies, Seattle. April 2016.

Columbia University Weatherhead East Asian Institute. March 2016.

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. March 2016.

New School India-China Institute, New York. February 2016.

2015

University of Nottingham Ningbo China. December 2015.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology-Smith College Leadership Program for Women - November 2015.

Shanghai International Literary Festival. November 2015.

Hong Kong International Literary Festival.  November 2015.

University of San Francisco event, “Leftover Women – Gender Inequality in Contemporary China and Japan.” October 2015.

The Brookings Institution event, “Women, Sexuality and Social Change in China.” April 2015.

Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of Cultural and Religious Studies. March 2015.

University of Toronto conference on Law and China. February 2015.

 

2014

Humanities of the European Research Area (HERA) conference, Precariously Yours: Gender, Class, and Urbanity in Contemporary Shanghai. Shanghai, December 2014.

Hopkins China Forum, Shanghai. December 2014.

Keynote speaker at annual meeting, Shanghai American Chamber of Commerce. November 2014.

Hong Kong Literary Festival. November 2014.

University of Minnesota Department of Sociology. October 2014.

CUNY Staten Island Department of Media Culture and Modern China Studies Program and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in Manhattan. October 2014.

Yale University Council on East Asian Studies/Yale-China Association. October 2014.

University of Connecticut Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. October 2014.

Duke University Asian/Pacific Studies Institute. October 2014.

Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College Agnes Chen Memorial Distinguished Visitor. September 2014.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library. September 2014.

New America Foundation, New York. July 2014.

National Committee on United States-China Relations, New York. July 2014.

Human Rights Watch, Washington D.C. July 2014.

US Consulate, Hong Kong. July 2014.

Foreign Correspondents Club, Shanghai. June 2014.

UN Women/Austrian embassy, Beijing. May 2014.

EU delegation embassy/Foreign Correspondents Club of China, Beijing. May 2014.

Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong. May 2014.

Young China Watchers, Hong Kong. May 2014.

University of Hong Kong, Comparative Education Research Centre. April 2014.

Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain/Young China Watchers, London. April 2014.

POWER 2014 conference on women, Beijing, April 2014.

Bookworm International Literary Festival in Beijing and Chengdu, March 2014.

Flamingo Group salon in Singapore, “Changing Values in China,” March 2014.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Division of Social Science Seminar. March 2014.

 

2013

CET Academic Programs, Beijing, July 2013.

Chinese talk on women and residential real estate at一元公社 女行论坛, Beijing, June 2013.

Beijing International Society at British Embassy Residence in Beijing. February 2013.

 

Literary agent: 

Marysia Juszczakiewicz, www.peonyliteraryagency.com
marysia@peonyliteraryagency.com