Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Prenatal Selection

I saw this article today ...

Prenatal Selection of Boys Is Growing
Gregoire Alix, Le Monde: "Social preference for boys leads women in certain Asian countries to practice selective abortions. Familiar in China and India, the phenomenon is growing in Vietnam, where the sex ratio at birth (SRB, or the number of boys born per hundred girls) rose to 112 in 2007, seven points above the 'natural' level of 105. That's what demographer Christophe Z. Guilmoto, director of research at the Paris Population and Development Center, has shown in a study published in the on-line scientific review Plos One."


... and thought: good. This is an extremely unpopular opinion. What is good about parents using selective abortion to choose the sex of their children?

1) It prevents unwanted children from being born into families that would treat them badly. Abuse of girls is a serious problem in misogynist countries, and it tends to be even worse in families that wanted a boy but were stuck with a girl. It is worst of all in China where parents are only allowed one child.

2) It helps reduce the human population. When boys significantly outnumber girls, the number of breeding couples is limited by the number of girls. Fewer girls will likely mean fewer babies in the next generation. Since China is trying to reduce its population and India would benefit from doing the same, this is helpful. I could wish for more ethically elegant methods, but it's their country and they have a right to pick what works for them.

3) It encourages better treatment of girls because they will be in scarce supply, thus making them more valuable. Young men who treat young women well have a better chance of attracting a mate, and young women can be more picky if there are lots of extra men around. People who disapprove of how those countries treat females can make all kinds of hay by encouraging young women to expect better of their mates -- those girls will be in a stronger bargaining position and it may stick.

4) From a societal-level perspective, it's kind of a dumb idea, because who are all those precious boys going to marry later? But it's a mistake that comes with its own consequences; no outside intervention is required. They'll figure it out when the pinch hits the marriage market. Let them. People need to learn how to handle technology appropriately, and different societies may arrive at different solutions.

Also, this has already been explored to excellent effect in science fiction; see Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series. I think the most attention to the "girl drought" came in Komarr and A Civil Campaign.
Tags: gender studies, news, reading
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  • Birdfeeding

    Today is mild and partly sunny but very windy. I fed the birds. I've seen four bluejays, a small flock of doves, sparrows, house finches, and a…

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