China’s Sex Selection And One Child Policy Bites – Seriously

I knew it would bite them in the butt sooner or later. I read this headline on Yahoo News, “Skewed Birthrate To Leave 24 Million Men Single” and smiled wryly. No, I’m not happy that Chinese men will find difficulty marrying and insuring that their name will live on. But what do you expect? Especially where sex-specific abortions are condoned. Now I’m not going to turn this into an abortion rights debate. And please, you don’t either. Let’s look at the bigger picture here.

My sister, a more active feminist than I, will often bring up injustices that women suffer around the world. I’d listen politely. I’d nod and smile (or frown if the conversation warranted it.) But as soon as the conversation was over I’d go make dinner, tie a shoe, read a story to my kids or watch my favorite show. I don’t get involved or even educate myself. How could lil’ ol’ me make a difference?

The only time sex specific births made an impact on me was when I was in the throes of adoption. Oooooo, I’d think, chances are we’ll get a girl, or another girl, as the case may be. Someone to get girly with! What fun! And then a flash of concern would enter my mind and I’d think, for a few minutes or two, how horrible it must be to be unwanted in your own country, your own family. How terrible little girls are treated in countries that favor little boys. I might even stop to think where those countries might be: China, Korea, India, Iran. But those are sad thoughts and Pollyanna Jane doesn’t tolerate sad thoughts for very long.

But maybe I should have tolerated them. Maybe I should have nurtured them and seen where they may have taken me.

The article further states that men in poorer areas will probably have the most difficulty finding mates. That this difficulty has already led to abductions, trafficking, illegal marriages and prostitution. That  a wider age gap between couples will be common. (I’m thinking forced marriages – similar to those in polygamist cults) How will this affect the young women of this country? What will be the fall-out?

China implemented its “one child” policy back in 1979. When ultrasound technology became more widely available in the 80’s, sex selection became more prevalent. A recent Chinese study determined that this ” policy has averted 400 million births.” Averted. Interesting word. To prevent. Turn away. Avoid.

Avoiding having 400 million sweet, adorable little daughters. I understand the population problem over there. I do. I don’t have another answer. I’m just greatly saddened that this policy, technology, and family choices have created such a problem.

A problem that only makes it worse for the women already there.

All over again.

Check in tomorrow, for the inaugural guest post during Won’t You Be My Neighbor Fridays!


20 Comments

Filed under Be-Causes

20 responses to “China’s Sex Selection And One Child Policy Bites – Seriously

  1. suzicate

    It is sad. When I first read that a few days ago, I wasn’t surprised. There was a better answer for them, too bad it had to come to this for them to figure it out.

  2. SIGH. Not to mention the fact that women in Far East Asia (who are educated with a job) consider marriage to be a not so ideal option because if you can stay rent-free with your parents and have all your salary be disposable income, why would you want to give it all up and become a housewife (which is mostly expected in some countries/regions still) OR be going nowhere in your job (esp. if you have children).

  3. I still remember the earthquake a few years ago, and all those children died. All the more awful when considering how many of them were only children.
    Yeah, they say the Vikings used to put girl infants out in the cold to die. How many other cultures probably did this too, in some form.
    Things against women like this drive me crazy. I wish there was something tangible I could do.
    Great post.

  4. angelcel

    Oh don’t get me started on the whole male female thing. (Your sister and I would definitely be able to compare notes on this). Suffice to say, I think the greatest injustice in this world may well be that half the human population risks being treated, at best, as second class citizens simply because of their gender. It doesn’t all relate to ‘somewhere else, far away’ either because some of the worst offenders over the centuries, I’m sorry to say, have been mainstream religious sects.

  5. Wow! I knew about the aborting of female pregnancies, but I never thought about how that would impact the future. If the tables were turned I would be depressed. No wonder these men are becoming desperate! (Not that I am condoning this behavior). I think it is deplorable and I hope that these Asian countries re-think their strategies for the future.

  6. India’s got the same issue. SAD.

  7. Simple logic. It never ceases to amaze me the way humans will go about cutting their own throats. In my opinion China and India need to start promoting male on male action. It’s the corner they have painted themselves into. Enjoy!

    And angelcel, I’ve been thinking a lot about gender inequality for a few months now. I have no great insights or anything like that. I was just wondering why it ends up in so many varied cultures that females are subservient to males? It’s a fairly universal phenomenon I think from the glass ceiling in America to berkas to genital mutilation to weird laws all over the world that give women less rights than men. The only answer I can come up with is “might makes right.” Since males are generally physically stronger, throughout history somehow they have tended to make all the rules. And like most selfish humans, they do it in their favor. One hell of a way to run a railroad in my humble opinion.

    Anyway, that’s my working theory at this point.

    • angelcel

      I’ve wondered too and the answer I’ve come up with may seem a bit odd. I think that men are a little bit in awe (or even scared of) women. I base this on the fact that ancient cultures revered women. When Christianity and other mainstream religions came along there was an opportunity to in some way redress the balance. Suddenly religious texts started reflecting a suspicion of women, even, dare I say it a revulsion and our role in society was reduced to the sorry state we’re in today. I couldn’t agree more that once men had twigged that they could be head honcho, their brute force meant that they got (and get) away with it.

      With regard to places like China and India favouring male children. Yes, it’s truly horrendous (especially when I know what can happen to little girls in India) but we have to remember the cultural differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Both these countries were, up until very recently, extremely poor. It’s natural that there would be more emphasis on male children – because culturally generations of families in these countries look after one another and male children traditionally could head into the workforce more readily and command a salary that could be shared. Female children on the other hand (in India at least) required a dowry. I’m hoping that as far as India is concerned the tide is turning. But China? They have *so many* people that a population policy was a grand idea that was bound to fail because fielding humans into one pattern of behaviour is like fielding ducklings: Doomed to failure.

      (Apologies to Jane for my sub blog post. You can see that this is a subject I really do feel passionately about. …Better never introduce me to your sister at polite family gatherings then – the two of us just might clear the room!

  8. Yeah, let’s hear it for short-term thinking. We want boys! Boys are better! Only boys! Er…how come we only have men? Who could have seen that coming? Sigh.

  9. I’m sure they didn’t think long-term. That is too terribly sad.

  10. unabridgedgirl

    Maybe it’s because I am reading a book to do with Chinese culture? But this makes me all the more sad. First, it was the foot binding, and now this… Great post, though!

  11. A thought-provoking post and it’s obvious we all have strong feelings. Just about ever era has its gender inequalities. Many ancient cultures (as well as current ones) viewed women as little more than property. China’s short-sightedness could very well be the beginning of wiping out their culture as these single men marry outside of their race, bringing other mindsets into the fray.

  12. That is a staggering number. It really is tragic to hear and see stories of these girls.

  13. What a stupid, stupid tragedy!

  14. It just seems so senseless!

  15. I knew about the practices over there and wondered when it would catch up to them. I guess it did. So freaking senseless and now it’s kicking them.

  16. I read the article a few days, and it didn’t catch me by surprise as I’ve been reading the warnings since the ’90s. 400 million births averted by abortion. Sick. (And I’m pro-choice.) What happened to family planning? Or birth control? There’s like a dozen types; pick one. Didn’t any one stop and think this population control policy would bite them in the ass? No, because they silence critics. The only good news is that the building of the Chinese military is direct result of these. They have tons of men that have no prospect of family, so the government HAS to do something with them. Even better news, these are only children, and in the Chinese culture the offspring (especially male) are what ensures your status in the afterlife, the worship of the ancestor, so if China decides to pick on some one and start a war with their big ass military, there people will revolt to save their children and their heritage. Of course, this won’t stop the violence on women.

  17. I’ve known about this for a long time. Even when abortion wasn’t readily available, baby girls would be killed the moment they were born, and everything was hush-hush. Pregnant women would cover themselves up, and not appear in public for the last months of their pregnancy, just in case the baby was a girl. And in the case when the girl WAS born and not killed, she was made dumb and mute by her parents, so that the family had an excuse that their kid was retarded, and given another chance at a baby boy.

    It’s sick, and horrible, and gruesome, and I HATE it.

    But what can I do about it? I’m half-way across the globe. 😦

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