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“As women age they are worth less and less”: gender inequality in China

By Jessica Abrahams  

Right, a Mao-era propaganda poster showing women working; left, a contemporary Chinese cartoon mocks a female university graduate who can’t find a husband because her standards are too high

Many languages have a pejorative phrase for a single woman who is perceived to be past her sell-by date for marriage: “left on the shelf” in English; “failed dog” in Japanese; “waiting to dress the saints” (an activity reserved for virgins) in Spanish.

But while old stigmas surrounding unmarried women rumble on in the west, in China they are gathering a…

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