Living with Their Own Images

  • Chow Yiu Fai
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Globalization, Culture and Society book series (PSGCS)


This chapter analyses dominant representations of single women in contemporary China. Informed by the centrality and popularity of single womanhood in popular cultural productions, it offers an overview of their representations across a plethora of genres and platforms. The overview cross-references the popular terms that have emerged and have circulated in the last couple of decades, such as 3S Lady (“single, born in the seventies, stuck”) and shengnü (literally, “leftover woman”). Then, the chapter focuses on a drama series: Ode to Joy (Huanle Song). Set in Shanghai, the series follows the love and work lives of five single women from different social backgrounds who live in the same building. The chapter examines the latest discursive formations surrounding Chinese single women in an urban setting. Whether disciplinary or emancipatory, stereotyping or interrogating, provocative or prescriptive—or probably all of these—these are the symbolic realities that single women in China have to live with.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Chow Yiu Fai
    • 1
  1. 1.Hong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong

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