£14.99 | $24.95

10 April 2014
ISBN: 9781780329215
224 pages
216mm x 138mm
Asian Arguments
Asia, Human Rights, Politics, Sociology and Social Policy, Urban Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Development

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Leftover Women

The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China

Leta Hong Fincher

After the 1949 revolution in China, 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. Yet those gains are being eroded in China’s post-socialist era.

Contrary to many claims made in the media, women in China have experienced a dramatic rollback of rights and gains relative to men. Leftover Women lays out the structural discrimination against women and speaks to broader problems with China’s economy, politics, and development.


'Making the most of her experience as a journalist and her training in sociology, Leta Hong Fincher draws on previous breakthrough works in Chinese gender studies and her own interviews, while proving equally at home summarizing statistics and telling poignant tales of individual experience. The result is an engagingly written, thought-provoking work on a crucially important but often overlooked subject. Essential reading.'
- Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know

'In lively and accessible prose, Hong Fincher demonstrates conclusively that urban professional women have been disproportionately disadvantaged during China's breakneck economic development and largest wealth accumulation in human history. Hong Fincher exhaustively cites media, government statistics, her own interviews, and her Weibo survey results to substantiate the fact that gender inequality in China has reappeared with a vengeance and shows no signs of abating any time soon.'
- Rebecca E. Karl, New York University

'Cast aside what you think you know about the 'empowered' women of China today. Modern Chinese women are under pressure in a society that often locks them out of social equality, property rights, and legal protection from domestic abuse. This is the reality that China scholar Leta Hong Fincher puts forward in her study of resurgent gender inequality in China. Her book is a well-researched and riveting read, including a number of gripping personal accounts straight from China's so-called 'leftover women.' For any curious observer of China or women's issues, this is one to read.'
- Kristie Lu Stout, anchor/correspondent, CNN International

'A brilliant, compelling, and innovative study of contemporary China and one of the most important sociological inquiries into the political economy of gender. Leta Hong Fincher's richly detailed research and critical analysis of gender politics in Leftover Women provide an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to understand the key socio-economic transformations in post-socialist China.'
- Lydia H. Liu, Columbia University, co-editor of The Birth of Chinese Feminism

Table of Contents

1. China's 'leftover' women
2. How Chinese Women were shut out of the biggest accumulation of real-estate wealth in history
3. China's giant gender wealth gap
4. Back to the Ming dynasty
5. Wives caught in China's web of abuse
6. Fighting back

About the Author:

Leta Hong Fincher is an award-winning former journalist who has published in a number of magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times. She is completing her Ph.D. in Sociology at Tsinghua University.