Thursday, July 17, 2008

He-Men Women-Haters

So over in China, as you know, they've been sex-selecting for boy-babies for the past generation (mainly by either aborting the girl-babies or by abandoning the girls or by giving them to Americans to raise): now what?

Now they've got a generation rising with a sex-ratio all whacked, is what.

After almost 30 years of the policy, China now has the largest gender imbalance in the world, with 37 million more men than women and almost 20 percent more newborn boys than girls nationwide.

Which policy is beginning to have its effect on the society, as anyone might have guessed:

In the 2020s, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher Zheng Zhenzhen, estimates in a People's Daily interview that 10 percent of Chinese men will be unable to find wives, which could have a huge impact on Chinese society. Historian David Courtwright suggests in Violent Land that sexually segregated societies in the United States--frontier towns flush with unmarried men, immigrant ghettos in early twentieth-century cities, mining camps--are behind our propensity toward violence.

The response of some folk (here and in China) is to do away with the One-Child policy, except, of course, things aren't that simple: as most of us know, once you educate women (and women in cities in China have been given educations, though not so much in the rural areas) they stop having so many babies.

...As Chinese couples make more money, fertility is naturally declining-- meaning that today's bachelors will form an even larger proportion of China's future population than officials expect. Wang Feng, a sociologist at the University of California-Irvine who's part of a group of scholars advocating phasing out the one-child policy, says the outlook is grim: "Each successive birth cohort is going to be smaller. When younger cohorts get smaller, you have fewer females. It's a double whammy."

See, here's the thing: forced birth control, forced abortions, or its obverse -- restricting access to birth control or abortion -- neither of those are good. Both are going to lead to bad outcomes, because both are going to lead to desperate people doing desperate things. Recognize that a woman owns her body, educate her so that she is wise enough to make good choices, and keep out of her way -- oh, and here's a notion: arrange the world so that she can make good choices. What about that plan? Then you won't have this world:

Two years ago in Nanjing, Jiangsu's capital, businessman Wu Gang opened the Rising Sun Anger Release Bar in a cheap hotel near the bank of the Yangtze River. The bar featured staples of Chinese entertainment like big-screen karaoke and plates of sunflower seeds but also a central catwalk where, for 100 yuan ($15) per minute, customers paid to assault the waiters, single young migrants from poorer cities to the north. If a customer preferred, his victim would dress in drag.


Anonymous said...

My friend worked a John Hopkins sister hospital in Shanghai for several years (I think I've got that right). She said a lot of women would have abortions but said she thought the rate was declining because a lot more women were dealing with infertility and just happy to have a baby. She said the rural areas were where it was most disturbing. Obviously, they don't have the access to health care and therefore there's no access to technology that would permit them to determine gender before birth. A lot of baby girls were killed. Some drowned, others...let's just say in a more efficient way, and many would be left out to die from exposure/ starvation/ dehydration. It's repugnant. In rural areas males are not only valued because of their penis, it's also because they can work the farm, make more money for the family, etc. Girls, well you know how vaginas are so limiting.

The problem is that the idea that boys are more valued than girls is so deeply ingrained that's it will take a tremendous effort to reverse its effects and, then what? Will people abort male fetuses to have a female? Leave them to do a slow death? I realize the patriarchy is hard at work in China but it rocks me to my core to think of a perfectly healthy fetus (or worse, newborn) being discarded simply because of its gender.

Then there is the adoption issue. I have long wanted to adopt a baby and China, due to the readily available little ones in need of a home, seemed like a logical choice. That said, with this list of requirements, I'm not sure they'd let us have one. Better to let it die than to give to someone less than perfect, you know? How's that for some serious patriarchal values?

zelda1 said...

Reminds me of those young American soldiers who tortured the Irquis by having them do humiliating things; although, they were motivated by hate instead of sexual repression.