By Alexa Day
This past weekend, in China, the body of a 43-year-old woman was discovered in an elevator. She’d been there for a month. Maintenance folks had stopped the elevator, yelled to make sure no one was there, and left the elevator out of service for a long holiday. The BBC reports that scratches were found on the inside of the elevator car.
Sounds like a nightmare, right?
On Chinese social media, folks are coming out to blame the maintenance folks and building management for not doing more to make sure the elevator was empty before taking off. They are also blaming the woman in the elevator.
This is not so surprising, given the nature of social media.
Ms. Wu was single, and she apparently had no one to check on her whereabouts. While some are reflecting on urban isolation in China, where a person can be surrounded by others and still be more or less alone, others believe Ms. Wu was at risk because she was unmarried, one of the so-called “leftover women,” or “sheng nu.”
A single girl becomes one of the sheng nu in her late 20s.
I had two questions right away.
If a Chinese man had died after a month in an elevator, would anyone on social media even mention his marital status?
And would the American media devote any attention to the marital status of a woman who’d been trapped in an elevator for a month?
The second question was tougher for me.
Also last weekend, I ran across an interview with Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. Traister recalls that in her favorite childhood stories, the heroine’s life seemed to end when she got married. American society might still pathologize a woman’s decision to remain unmarried. At one time, she might have been decried as undesirable; today, she’s more likely to be viewed as selfish. Either way, the adult woman with no spouse is coloring outside the lines and has been for a long time.
Here and in China, however, more and more women are living the single life and loving it all to pieces.
They’re building full lives — personally and professionally — and it’ll take some pretty special guys to entice them to take that walk down the aisle.
I’m proud of my genre for keeping up. When I first started reading romance, marriage really was the end of the story — the only end of the story. Today, a romance heroine is more likely to enter the relationship of her choice, maybe a marriage and maybe not, on her own terms. These aren’t stories about women who are worried about being leftovers. These are stories about women making the choice to bring love into their already full lives.
Is the world ready?
Follow Lady Smut. We’ll check in with you regularly.
Alexa Day writes erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent and fictional worlds where strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and recovering attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.