mara hvistendahl responds to dawkins

mara hvistendahl has responded to richard dawkins who said that her book on the “missing girls” in india and china is critical of science. she says that it is not. further she says:

“[B]eginning in the 1960s a separate group of scientists proposed pushing along research into sex selection — not simply using existing techniques, but actively funding new work — for a reason that had nothing to do with avoiding disease or improving maternal health.

“These scientists were interested in sex selection’s significance in the developing world, where studies had shown many couples wanted at least one son. The idea there was not simply to help parents achieve the family composition of their dreams; it was to stop couples in countries like South Korea, India, and Taiwan from continuing to have girls until they got a boy. To quote from just two of the papers and books mentioning this approach at the time:

“‘A type of research which would have a great effect on population control would be that related to the discovery of methods for sex determination. It has been suggested that if one could predetermine that the first offspring would be a male, it would have a great effect on the size of the family.’ – William D. McElroy, BioScience, 1969

“‘[I]f a simple method could be found to guarantee that first-born children were males, then population control problems in many areas would be somewhat eased.’ – Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, 1968….

“While Western science is not to blame for the disappearance of tens of millions of females from the global population, some Westerners did play a role in bringing sex selection to Asia. It is this role I hope we can discuss.”

first of all, no — westerners did not play a role in “bringing sex selection to Asia.” sure these guys had a role in bringing prenatal sex selection to asia, but asians already did PLENTY of sex selection long before the white man took any hand in it as i showed in my post yesterday. and that sex selection was probably based on INFANTICIDE — and one could make the argument that quite a lot of suffering has been avoided by eliminating a good deal of that.

and, secondly, “it is this role [of westerners] I hope we can discuss.” i’m not sure what there is to discuss, but ok.

what? is not population control — particularly in asia where there are waaaaay too many people that they can barely even feed everybody — not a problem? should we not help asians with their population problem? i think we should. we’ve all got to share this planet and if they’ve got population problems, we’ve got population problems.

there is clearly also a problem with having too many men in a society, but the asians need to work that one out for themselves. politically. they need to, i dunno, have a quota system per district and/or a lottery system (short stick? sorry, you’ll just have to be happy with a girl child). or monetary incentives to have girls! there’s a good one. everybody likes monetary incentives! encourage people to have more girls by handing out cash or free education or dowry funds or whatever.

how’s that for a plan?

previously: mara hvistendahl is a…

(note: comments do not require an email. r ny vwls.)

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6 Comments

  1. As much as I agree with your views about sex selection in Asian countries, I still need to point out that you need to avoid generalizing all cases with one package of causes and effects. For instance, the sex ratio imbalance in China is mostly due to the fact there is a stringent “one child policy” that indulges the sex selection, esp. among the villages; whereas in India there isn’t such strong authoritative measures that limits the choice of parents in the number of children they desire. Besides, I need to inform you, there’s no obvious sex imbalance in Taiwan or Korea, Personally I think the sex ratio will come up to a natural range once the economic situation gets brighter. in this case cultural bias on female babies would diminish and eventually become insignificant in affecting demographics. As far as I know, for example, regions like Hong Kong have actually more female population than men.

    Having said that, I think the sex ratio imbalance issues are part of the bitterness of clash between cultural tradition and modernization process that countries like China and India need to swallow themselves and heal themselves. But definitely the digestion process ain’t gonna be pretty in the future.

    Reply

  2. @theslittyeye – “I still need to point out that you need to avoid generalizing all cases with one package of causes and effects. For instance, the sex ratio imbalance in China is mostly due to the fact there is a stringent ‘one child policy’….”

    oh, sure. i didn’t mean to imply that there there was just one reason for the sex selection in babies going on in east and south asia. afaiac, the one child policy in china was a good idea. good grief! — with 1.whatever-it-is billion people and not enough arable land to feed yourself, you gotta limit population! india ought to, too.

    i don’t take it personally that more girls than boys have been aborted in china and india (whereas i think hvistendahl might — others certainly do). i just think it’s a bad idea ’cause it’s not good to have all these “bare branches” hanging around. that could mean trouble for everybody.

    what i was mostly annoyed at here, tho, was hvistendahl making it sound like westerners brought sex selection to east and south asia. that’s something that’s been not uncommon in india and china for quite a long time.

    Reply

  3. @hbd chick:
    I agree with you that sex selection has long existed before the westerners arrived in the oriental land. It’s funny to see the social consequence of sex imbalance in those countries already. I could give you one example: though Korea doesn’t have screwed sex ratio, most women are not willing to marry farmers who live in the countryside. This directly results in a big sex imbalance in the countryside. This is what happened a lot nowadays in those villages: those Korean farmers start to get mailbrides from other countries like Philippine and Vietnam. Think China as a stadium and Korea as a your house, this means that there is going to be a drastic surge of women trafficking within China (from poorer region to rich region) and among all Asian countries (e.g. Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Thailand etc.). Not sure how it is gonna end up in India, but I could definitely see that coming in China in future decades

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  4. @theslittyeye – “…most women are not willing to marry farmers who live in the countryside.”

    that’s the story in a LOT of rural places. poor farmers — the people who FEED us all!

    @theslittyeye – “…start to get mailbrides from other countries like Philippine and Vietnam. Think China as a stadium and Korea as a your house, this means that there is going to be a drastic surge of women trafficking within China….”

    then there’s gonna be a h*ckuva shortage of women in all those other countries. not good. people (men) are not gonna be happy.

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  5. After reading up a bit on China’s 5,000 years of history, it looks like most chinese men throughout most of China’s history have never been able to marry or have children. China had polygamy for millenia, where the wealthy minority of men had many wives or concubines, and masses of poor peasant men would never have a wife. The Forbidden City in Beijing (a fascinating sight to see, I recommend your next vacation there!) often had dozens or hundreds of concubines per emperor, plus dozens or hundreds of concubines per high ranking government official, and also hundreds or thousands of eunuchs employed to work and maintain the place. It looks like China has a long history of maintaining a stable society, despite chronic shortages of women for poor men.

    I was in China, in Chengdu, with my husband, for about 4 months back in 2009. We made friends with other foreigners and many chinese colleagues and neighbours. I was surprised to see how peaceful, safe, and non-aggressive the culture of this very crowded city was.

    In several chinese nightclubs and bars, I observed the gender imbalance clearly. At least 70% of the people were chinese men. In nightclubs in my hometown of Victoria, Canada, most clubs will only allow in enough men to be about 50% of the total crowd, because when too many young drunk men are crowded into a bar, fights tend to break out very easily. Interestingly, I never once witnessed chinese men get into bar brawls in Chengdu, or street fights either, for that matter.

    I think having a large gender imbalance in Canada or America would most definitely result in large numbers of angry, frustrated, violent young men, but for reasons I couldn’t figure out, that doesn’t seem to happen in China.

    Reply

  6. @michael(?) – interesting! thnx for your comments.

    “I think having a large gender imbalance in Canada or America would most definitely result in large numbers of angry, frustrated, violent young men, but for reasons I couldn’t figure out, that doesn’t seem to happen in China.”

    if that’s correct — and it very well could be — that’s very interesting and, like you say, you wonder why that should be. perhaps the chinese are inherently less violent? — or less violent in an off-the-cuff sort of way? like less likely to lose their cool in a heated moment i’m thinking? or, perhaps, there’s a greater fear of stronger punishment/social ostracism if one does become violent?

    the chinese authorities, tho, historically have always been concerned about the possible negative side-effects of the “bare branches” situation (i.e. men unable to establish a family of their own). i think gender imbalance is partly blamed for some of the rebellions, like the boxer rebellion, iirc. too many young men with little hope of reproducing themselves? you are really asking for trouble, then.

    maybe nowadays they are enouraged to emigrate to africa. (~_^)

    “The Forbidden City in Beijing (a fascinating sight to see, I recommend your next vacation there!)”

    i’d love to go to china! that would be an awesome trip, i’m sure. of course, i’d also love to go to japan … and india … and indonesia … and papua new guniea … and saudi arabia … and, omg, egypt! … and …

    Reply

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