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May 23 2011

Girls in India: endangered species

No time to post! So I leave you with this remarkable remark from this morning’s BBC news feed, a story on the habit of certain segments of Indian society to selectively abort female fetuses, and the resulting “gender disparity” in India.

“Clinics from Punjab were boasting that they had 10 years’ experience in eliminating girl children and inviting parents to come to them.”

Here at Spinster HQ we’re all for women aborting whatever pregnancies they don’t want, for whatever reasons they do want. But we strenuously object when the objective is “eliminating girl children”, the practice is limited to female fetuses, and is mandated against women’s will by churlish husbands who beat their wives for “producing” females, and who only want male children so they can collect dowries when the son and heir gets married.

As a result of this fucked up setup wherein female children automatically incur a negative cash flow, and wherein “infanticide, abuse and neglect of girl children” is not uncommon, there are, according to the Census of India, only 914 girls for every 1000 boys under the age of 7.

It’s gynocide.

72 comments

  1. Kel

    This does not make even good *business* sense. If there are not enough women to become wives, then there will be no dowry for the son and heir. This is about the most stupid thing I have heard people do.

  2. nicolien

    @ Kel: it’s a “good” example of what I teach my students about societies: that many people take decisions that are/seem good for them, individually, but that are disastrous for society as a whole.

  3. Lovepug

    Yeah, forced abortion gets to be some tricky tightrope walking for feminists. It can be hard to explain, but it ultimately is really not about abortion but about women’s personal sovereignty over their own bodies. The point is that we are free to choose to not have sex, to have sex and not get pregnant, to abort, to have a baby and give it up, or to have a baby and keep it. Women need to have utter control and say at all points of the spectrum. At no point are the opinions and actions of patriarchs welcome or necessary. Women and women alone have got this covered.

    This makes me think of this one time when I mildly addicted to this show called “Adoption Stories.” This one episode followed an Indian pediatrician living in the states who was trying to adopt a baby girl from India. Her husband was a bit of a Nigel and all for it. Their families, however, clearly thought it was a horrifying idea (my interpretation). Not only was the first grandchild going to be a girl, she was likely from some lower caste. I thought it was cool the way this doctor was basically giving a passive-agressive “fuck you” to the families and went to India to get this little girl anyway. It was so cute how she and her husband were just immediately gaga over this little girl. And of course when they brought her home, the families mellowed a bit. Because this concept that certain human beings are somehow lesser is complete and utter bullshit and never really holds up to scrutiny or logical reasoning.

  4. Michele

    Egad- tho after dealing with men for 40+ years I’m almost inclined to say, screw it- go ahead & get rid of all the girls. Let the boys live amongst themselves without the benefit of women ala Lord of the Flies. Bunch of dumbshits!

  5. A Ginva

    The thing I don’t like is the word ‘femicide’ (or feminicide) – I hear quite often nowadays, especially concerning Latin America and India. Do we say jewicide, rwandicide, homosexualicide?
    it implies that women don’t deserve the human status enough for their genocide to be perceived as a real proper genocide.

  6. Natalia

    In many such cases, it’s also not just husbands. Many women under pressure to produce boys are hounded particularly by their mother-in-laws (father-in-laws too sometimes, but it’s often women who have the “job” of policing other women’s reproduction within this context). The mother-in-laws were usually themselves hounded in this fashion, so it’s a cycle repeating itself.

  7. KJB

    This is precisely why I am a feminist. Even growing up in the UK did not free me from the deeply-embedded misogyny of South Asian culture. I must say as well that women – older women, principally mothers-in-law – are very much central to perpetuating this system. From direct experience, I would actually say that is women who are the worst abusers. Men benefit from the system and there are many who, I’m sure, would move against women if they tried en masse to fight for their rights – but the sad thing is that at the moment, they don’t need to.

  8. IrishUp

    Dr. Kate Clancy’s most recent post over at “Context and Variation” also touches on the effects of parental neglect of girls in India. The picture at the link is horribly disturbing; given the results of neglect, abortion must seem the best choice among the shitty options available. Since valuing women appears to be off the table.

    http://professorkateclancy.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-girls-steal-some-of-their-mothers.html

  9. Fictional Queen

    What I always wonder about things like these I’ve been hearing since I was a kid is that first people devise a plan where they have to provide dowry for their daughters,then they kill the girls because of it.It seems like it’s just an excuse to oppress girls somehow,if not dowry,it’ll be something else.

  10. Fictional Queen

    @Michelle:I fantasize that people of the world split into two parts,the women’s part of the world and the men’s part of the world.The women’s part would flourish and progress more and more everyday,while the men would eventually go extinct because of their own violence.I think the ultimate male fantasy is for all women to be dead,and then they would kill each other until there’s no humanity left! No amount of abuse can satisfy them.Even if they had total and complete control over women and all women became complete doormats,they still wouldn’t be satisfied.

  11. Belle

    Then there’s this:

  12. Belle

    Crap it didn’t copy over. Here’s a link.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng//id/930

  13. Triste

    Stories like this, in my opinion, serves as a pretty prime example of oppression – not just of women, but of children. Has there ever been a class more universally and cruelly oppressed? A child’s decreased mental and physical ability apparently makes it okay for them to be considered a monetary investment for a whole freaking culture. A monetary investment! Have a son, retire early! Lay off your daughters, they’re losing productivity!

    I feel like the world often misses the plight of children, in part because even we oh~so~enlightened westerners tend to think of kids as sub-human. Watch one of those “save the starving kids” commercials, and then watch a “save the abused animals” commercial. See the similarities. If you suggest feeding starving kids, everyone will nod sagely, but try to point out that the fundamental problem is that children are viewed as a class as property rather than human beings, and you get the stink-eye, and probably some anecdote about how childhood was the best time of their life, damnit.

    On a side note, those who are interested in the plight of women in India should really watch Water, a Deepa Mehta film chronicling the stories of Indian widows. You know it’s good because a bunch of right-wing Indian assholes protested her film by storming her set and tossing her equipment into the Ganges. Blame on, Deepa.

  14. IrishUp

    @Triste – agreed on kids, and also “Water”. I worked for the MA. Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children as a teen. The director told me there was an MSPCAnimals ~50yrs before anyone started an MSPCC.

    Gah, my previous comment reads weird. The sentiment is that if the viable choices are a) harangued and abused by family b) systematically underfeed and neglect my kid or c) have an abortion, then c) starts to look pretty damn good.

  15. ivyleaves

    There is also killing of females in China. http://www.gendercide.org/case_infanticide.html

  16. Bushfire

    What I always wonder about things like these I’ve been hearing since I was a kid is that first people devise a plan where they have to provide dowry for their daughters,then they kill the girls because of it

    Exactly! If the system is not working, wouldn’t it be better to eliminate the dowry system instead of killing children? Where are the damn “pro-lifers” when you need them? (Answer: off worrying about white fetuses)

  17. Schnee

    And yet the gender choice of parents consulting western agencies who claim to offer this service before conception, is overwhelmingly for females.

  18. Kea

    For a truly nauseating patriarchal take on the problem in China, see this:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13514352

  19. Milly goes for a walk

    One of the best ways to improve children’s lives is to raise the status of women of course. I wonder if the next wave of feminist activism will come from some kind of mother’s movement. As indoctrinated in patriarchal servitude as motherhood is, I think sometimes it takes becoming a mother to realise how poorly patriarchy serves children and perhaps women who wouldn’t necessarily take action for themselves might take action on behalf of their children. Nuclear families and capitalist economies fail to meet children’s social and psychological need to be raised in groups of mixed loving, connected adults and children. Western societies leave children bereft of hearts and hands ( one or two individual carers just don’t cut it) drowning in artificially animated substitutes. Sarah Blaffer Hardiy’s “mothers and others” is a great read for any feminist interested in childrearing. One of the most interesting things in the book was that the single biggest predictor for reduced risk of childhood mortality was for the parents to live with the maternal grandparents. While living with paternal grandparents lead to increased fertility but the reduction in childhood mortality was not as marked.

    in

  20. K.C.

    Well, this is just depressing.

    I sort of want to just make puppy-dog eyes and sob “Why does no one value the little girls?” Before I can even contort my facial muscles, I answer my own question.

    So, if men are worried about having daughters, why not remove themselves from the source? I’m sure they’ll have a FANTASTIC time learning to reproduce through budding.

  21. Kea

    India: women must cough up dough, so let’s kill women
    China: men must cough up dough, so let’s kill women.
    Logical, right?

  22. Milly goes for a walk

    Hope that made sense, sorry for the typos. I blame the iPad.

  23. buttercup

    Good luck with that asexual reproduction, dudes.

  24. Jill

    I’m all for an immediate cessation of all human reproduction worldwide — that’s right, even among affluent white college-educated career women with high IQs for whom it is both a “right” and a fulfilling lifestyle choice — but the notion of aborting only female fetuses proceeds from violent predilections and will have only untoward results.

  25. speedbudget

    Thanks for the link to the blog and the TED talk. That picture on the blog is just haunting. I just…how could anyone do that? What does one have to do to one’s sense of compassion and decency to justify that poor, poor girl while your sons are just beaming and healthful? I just…really. I have no idea how one could.

    I just ordered Half The Sky for my iPad. I can’t wait to read it.

    Does anyone know of a good, reputable charity to send my $20/month to that will actually help women and children rather than line the pockets of some asshole bureaucrat?

    And I still can’t get over blaming women for your lack of sons. It’s your sperm that make that choice, asshole.

  26. Jezebella

    Fictional Queen, I am on board with that agenda: send ‘em all to Man Island and watch the dudes go extinct in a matter of years. See you on Savage Death Island. I’ll bring the nachos.

  27. virago

    “And I still can’t get over blaming women for your lack of sons. It’s your sperm that make that choice, asshole.”

    Well, Speedbudget, that’s biology. Biology is science, and the patriarchy doesn’t think women are “logical” enough to understand science or math (you know, kill all females so there aren’t enough to reproduce patriarchal way of thinking). LOL. IBTP.

  28. allhellsloose

    Once again we see in action patriarchial fuckwadery at its best. Not content with messing the with economy, not content with messing with the environment, patriarchy is determined to mess with the balance of biological sex. Like that’s going to work.

  29. LS

    Does anyone know of any speculative fiction (or even a true story) in which a large group of women all decide to stop reproducing? If there isn’t any already I would be tempted to write it… Hope this isn’t too off topic but Jill’s comment above sparked the thought in me.

  30. Cycles

    From http://www.gendercide.org/case_infanticide.html:

    In 1999, Jonathan Manthorpe reported a study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, claiming that “the imbalance between the sexes is now so distorted that there are 111 million men in China — more than three times the population of Canada — who will not be able to find a wife.”

    The skin crawls at the thought of 111 million Nice Guys, bitterly kvetching that they have not been given the proper allotment of pussy to which they are entitled. I’m sure that’s gonna end well for everybody.

  31. Fictional Queen

    @Bushfire: Yeah…but that’s the purpose of the system in the first place.These are all just excuses,the patriarchy will make ways to justify hurting women,and people have never heard of logic or empathy.

  32. Rachel

    I’m all for an immediate cessation of all human reproduction worldwide — that’s right, even among affluent white college-educated career women with high IQs for whom it is both a “right” and a fulfilling lifestyle choice

    Well, cool beans – I’m doing my yuppie part for that, Jill. And every time some wanker asks me why I’m not pregnant, or smugly assures me I’ll change my mind someday (I am 30) I get the greatest of pleasure in informing them I had myself sterilized because I got tired of hearing that question. It was my wedding present to myself five years ago, and one of the best decisions of my life to date. As to the article, I hope the global rise of infertility in men (google it, giggle over it!) coincides ever-so-neatly with this loathsome practice.

  33. Tehomet

    @speedbudget: how about sponsoring a girl? http://plan-international.org/girls/

  34. yttik

    “The point is that we are free to choose to not have sex, to have sex and not get pregnant, to abort, to have a baby and give it up, or to have a baby and keep it.”

    The point is women “should” be free to choose, however the vast majority of us are not even in a position to comprehend that such things could exist, like female choice when it comes to sex or reproduction.

    Even those “affluent white college-educated career women with high IQs” that Jill speaks of may be completely unaware that women’s sexual choices could even become a part of the equation. Even those who appear to have some power, some choice, live in a culture that brainwashes women from day one and reinforces our status as only having value as a sexual/reproductive commodity. No one really has “choice” until they believe it inside and see it reinforced all around them.

  35. niki

    Hear hear on the immediate cessation of all human reproduction everywhere. Why are there so many people who believe that we need to continue the human race? Seriously, why??? The earth would do just fine – nay, 5,0000 x better – without us.

    Really.

    Not to mention reproduction basically means either creating a Dude who, unless he’s a douche like the majority, will be ostracized by his peers and suffer greatly, or a girl who will inevitably be similarly traumatized by the Patriarchy. Good times for all!

  36. Jill

    “Many women under pressure to produce boys are hounded particularly by their mother-in-laws”

    Yeah, it’s a given that the mothers-in-law are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

  37. Kea

    Sorry for all the links, but I think we need a heartwarming story to cheer us up:
    http://nz.lifestyle.yahoo.com/general/features/article/-/9511607/couple-keeps-four-month-olds-gender-secret/

  38. Galloise Blonde

    Jill – it’s not just Stockholm Syndrome: the way the family is organised means that senior women’s material interests lie in having male children. The family set-up here is the patrilocally extended system, meaning that a son’s wives come to live in the father’s house. It’s a set-up which is ripe for abuse, because a girl or woman then loses all links with her own family and is isolated within a family of near-strangers. As a woman progresses through life, she’s firstly dependent on her parents, then her husband, then her son. If she has no sons, there is no security for her in old age; if she does have sons, she gets to take a dominant position over their wives, where she can finally pass on the domestic labour to them. Mother-in-law abuse of young brides is pretty common too: it’s not in the interest of the mother for her son to develop a too-close relationship with his wife, because she doesn’t want him diverting resources from herself to the incomer, so you find often find mother-in-laws stirring up trouble between married couples to protect their own parental relationship. Deniz Kandiyoti’s article ‘Bargaining with Patriarchy’ is excellent on these points.

    In Haryana, there is a saying “Feeding a daughter is like watering a neighbour’s garden.” It’s because the kinship structures mean that these daughters will always, ultimately leave the extended that they are little valued.

    Dowry IMO comes with the caste system: because the heirarchy of caste is unyeilding, and women lack a strong social identity through their ancillery status, they are paradoxically the only method for rising up the heirarchy, through marrying ‘up’ and being subsumed into their husband’s family’s identity. I think dowry compensates for the supposed difference in caste status when a girl or woman marries ‘up’. (I may have got this from Prem Chowdhry’s ‘Women of Haryana’ but I can’t swear to it.)

  39. Jill

    Thanks for enlarging the point, Galloise Blonde. I use the term ‘Stockholm syndrome’ somewhat imprecisely, as shorthand more or less to mean “identification with an oppressor as a means of survival, despite the oppressor’s psychopathy/antipathy.”

    The mothers-in-law to whom you allude, with their personal stake in perpetuating these highly detrimental and misogynist mores, pretty much fit my interpretation to a T. They are in an impossible situation and have gone into survival mode.

    As the world’s foremost authority on Scandinavian syndromes, I attribute all instances of women’s collusion with patriarchy to this Stockholm-type phenomenon. Women aren’t so much hostages as we are an occupied territory, but appeasement of authority (manifested, in the case of the mothers-in-law, as collaboration) as a survival tactic is universal to any situation wherein one is stripped of agency and made dependent on abusers.

  40. Bushfire

    Does anyone know of a good, reputable charity to send my $20/month to that will actually help women and children rather than line the pockets of some asshole bureaucrat?

    Your local women’s shelter, women’s health centre, rape crisis line. They might need donations of “stuff” as well as money: clothing, soap, toothpaste, bus tickets, children’s toys, who knows. And if by some miracle they don’t need anything, they could definitely tell you who does.

  41. Jezebella

    Looking for something to do with $20/month that helps women & children: Planned Parenthood could always use a few extra bucks, and they make a dollar go a long way.

  42. Kali

    I think dowry compensates for the supposed difference in caste status when a girl or woman marries ‘up’.

    This is the first time I have heard of this. Doesn’t sound right to me. My understanding is that dowry was given to a daughter to make her less dependent on the in-laws and therefore less susceptible to abuse. Of course, since she has no power over the in-laws, they can simply usurp her dowry for themselves and oppress her even more. Over time it became common practice for the in-laws to usurp the bride’s dowry, so much so that now it is given directly to the in-laws.

  43. virago

    “As the world’s foremost authority on Scandinavian syndromes, I attribute all instances of women’s collusion with patriarchy to this Stockholm-type phenomenon. Women aren’t so much hostages as we are an occupied territory, but appeasement of authority (manifested, in the case of the mothers-in-law, as collaboration) as a survival tactic is universal to any situation wherein one is stripped of agency and made dependent on abusers.”

    That about sums it up!

  44. Galloise Blonde

    Hi Kali.

    I’ve read a lot about hypergamy and dowry, and I’ve been trying to rummage up something that I can link to: http://www.womenstudies.in/elib/dowry/dw_some_reflections.pdf. You can get a lot more about the idea if you plug hypergamy and dowry into Google Scholar, and see if you think it adds to the explanation. I understand what you’re saying about dowry as a resource that can be liquidated in the event of a crisis affecting the woman: Middle Eastern women often have a lot of gold jewellery for this reason, although of course they are quite often pressured into selling it, or are expected to pass it on.

    With something so widespread, and across such a diverse continent I doubt there is any single explanation – particularly since what dowry means has changed so much across time.

  45. Ayla

    That Adrian Azzopardi creep commenting on the TED talk is seriously infuriating. He harasses and harasses and harasses a woman commenter, demands to see a photo of her and to know what she does for a living, and finally laughs at her when she posts a brief tour of his apparent long history of being a misogynist douchebag.

    Of course, other commenters have up-voted him and he has more “TED rep” than anyone else on the page.

    These pseudo-intellectual misogynists are the ones who really get to me, because they talk a good enough game to fool other idiot men into believing in “science”-backed woman hate.

  46. Mau de Katt

    The skin crawls at the thought of 111 million Nice Guys, bitterly kvetching that they have not been given the proper allotment of pussy to which they are entitled. I’m sure that’s gonna end well for everybody.

    That article pointed out the consequences — a huge new slave-trade in kidnapped women to be “brides” for the Nice Guys who can’t find one in their own female-depleted areas. You’d think (well, I once naively thought) that a shortage of women would increase their value. Sadly, Patriarchy still says “no.”

    Another consequence of India’s dowry system is that the family-in-law then extorts more money or items-of-value from the bride’s family, under the guise of “insufficient dowry.” And if the (what amounts to protection money) is not paid, the bride meets up with some sort of fatal “accident,” leaving the son free to marry a new woman and get her dowry for his family.

  47. niki

    Was it not Planned Parenthood that was requiring women to watch videos about how sad aborted fetuses get when murderers kill them etc etc before they could go through with an abortion?

    I could be wrong.

    If I’m not, they get no money from me.

  48. veganrampage

    niki hi-

    No! That is/was NOT Planned Parenthood. Never. Ever.

    Your are thinking of the fake “abortion crisis centers” located near PP by crazy hard right tea bagging fucks who try to scare and confuse women.

    Planned Parenthood is on OUR side.

    Can someone else hear confirm please?

    Thanks.

  49. veganrampage

    “Your’re”.

    SHIT! Stupidity is catching.

  50. Jill

    I confirm that Planned Parenthood does not champion the heart-wrenching fetus video. There are a few states with misogynist legislation on the books requiring abortion providers to subject patients to all kinds of outrageous godbag-inspired propaganda before performing the procedure, though.

    In my home state of Texas, for example, people getting abortions are required to have sonograms first. They don’t have to look at the sonograms, but if they don’t, the tech has to describe the image, including the adorableness of the tiny heartbeat, organs, and limbs. The sonogram involves a vaginal probe, naturally, so all Texan women getting abortions are first raped by dirtbag Gov. Rick Perry.

  51. Natalia

    I’m all for an immediate cessation of all human reproduction worldwide — that’s right, even among affluent white college-educated career women with high IQs for whom it is both a “right” and a fulfilling lifestyle choice…

    Yes, yes, but first the oppessor I am currently gestating must get his fairy godmother. I’m counting on you, Twisty. *Someone* will have to introduce him to the joys of making short movies about terrifying encounters with large Texan insects. A stay in this world will not be complete without that.

  52. Jezebella

    Niki – I too, confirm that Planned Parenthood does not and never has harassed women who want an abortion via fetus-worshiping videos or anything else of that nature. They are DEFINITELY on our side.

  53. Ayla

    I genuinely hope to never have to flex this assertion, but if I do require an abortion while still living in TX, I have decided that I WILL have an abortion but I will NOT allow myself to be probed. I will claim that it is against my religion.

  54. CrazyQuilter

    this is “fresh” news now?
    it was the late nineties and early thousands (when i was a very wee e-feminist indeed) that i began discovering stories about “stove accidents” in india where new brides “mysteriously” ended up being immolated by their kerosene stoves…which turned out usually to be due to their husbands’ family’s tampering. if i recall, there was a huge uproar about this in the early thousands, so much so that several dozen new types of “safe” stoves were invented. however, the rate of “accidents” in which newly-married women were killed by exploding kitchen appliances did not significantly decrease.

    i know none of you will wonder why, but at the time, everyone was acting as if that was a real head-scratcher. but here’s a hint: usually these newly-married women would have their deadly “accidents” sometime immediately after their dowries were handed over to their husbands’ families.

    and i recall a passage in a Marilyn French book wherein she takes an entire chapter to describe the ways in which some indian families would deliberately, and slowly, starve their daughters to death, so that their sons could eat MORE. apparently these were not dirt-poor families; even families that had the ability to feed all their children would rather spoil their boys than even allow their daughters to LIVE. it carried on to the women of all ages, however; the men were healthy and well-fed, and the women were all skeletal and sickly.

    i am thoroughly disgusted. but of course, every time this comes up, everyone acts like it’s a new thing.
    the Marilyn French book i was mentioning was written in 1992. some of the online studies about stove fires had been compiled using research from as far back as the 1980s.

    the only real surprise i feel about this is that they appear to be killing off their own slave-class, however unwittingly. after all, who’s going to keep house and have sons for this upcoming generation of Nice Guys, if there are no baby girls?

  55. Nepenthe

    The unpaired Nice Guys who can’t find/buy a personal female slaves provide excellent cannon fodder for the military machine. The patriarchy is nothing if not efficient.

  56. Jill

    No, it’s not “fresh news” but unless it keeps getting trotted out, the story will stay buried. I also believe there is an element of “can you believe it, in THIS day and age!” that appeals to media people who designate a thing news or not-news.

  57. IrishUp

    @Crazy Quilter;
    Nope, most definitely NOT fresh news. This was well covered in an advanced Anth. class I took in the early ’90s, and there were examples from India, China and South America, and (anthropological) documentation of practices back into the 1950s.

    My recollection is that then the India male:female was around 100:98ish. It was a prolonged discussion in class (it also came up in populations class), because while the birth ratio for humans is m:f ~102:100, generally by adulthood, the ratio is 100:100, and favors women thereafter. So an overall ratio where women are < men means some pretty substantial demographic fuckery has been going on. Alas, I have been unable to find a 1990s source to verify that I'm remembering rightly.

    That the ratio is now closer to 100:90 is some seriously fucked up shit, no matter how you slice it.

  58. Jezebella

    Just because something is “old news” doesn’t mean we should forget about it and move on. And, y’know, it just might be “fresh news” to some people. Which makes it worth revisiting, even if we’re boring you, CrazyQuilter.

  59. mearl

    I can’t speak highly enough of Deepa Mehta. She’s one of my favourite powerful Canadian feminist ball-breaking shit-disturbers who has spent her life getting the word out. This movie of hers from 2009 portrays how Indian women are treated by their new families, their husbands, their own families, and by their mothers-in-law (Stockholm Syndrome acknowledged, of course). It’s an excellent film. I recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zoy4WYJW5AA&feature=related

  60. CrazyQuilter

    @Jezebella–
    i’m sorry if i came off as callous; that is not my intent at all. and i am certainly not bored.
    i AM annoyed that news sources seem to keep presenting this as if it JUST started happening.

    this is a problem that needs to be continually addressed, not just trotted out in the news under a new coat of paint every so often. Indian people been abandoning, murdering, and starving baby girls to death in India for longer than Western news-reporters have even been there. this wave of forced abortions is just the next progression of a set of atrocities that were already de rigeur in the country. i find it distressing that this seems like the first major news story on this topic to break in so long, when the problem has clearly been around for much longer than that.

    @Jill–
    i wish they would treat this like what it is–an ongoing “sleeper threat” that really is horrific. i don’t know, i got the feel that the article sort of glossed over the facct that this is deeply systemic, and ongoing, and that not only is it NOT getting better, but worsening. the graphs were the only things that indicated, really, how far back this was being documented, let alone occuring. THAT is what bothers me most.

  61. CrazyQuilter

    also hands up for Deepa Mehta. she is a profound, amazing filmmaker.

  62. laxsoppa

    “My understanding is that dowry was given to a daughter to make her less dependent on the in-laws and therefore less susceptible to abuse.”

    Kali, you’re right – that’s how it used to work at least in Scandinavia and some other European countries. In India the culture is different, but the underlying idea of women as commodities to be bought and sold rather than human beings is the same.

    CrazyQuilter: “the only real surprise i feel about this is that they appear to be killing off their own slave-class, however unwittingly.”

    I don’t think they’re killing off their slave class so much as terrorizing it – “see what happens if you’re not a good wife?” Of course the definition of a good wife will always change to suit the patriarchs’ needs. It’s part of the programming to keep women silent and scared. Apparently women are so utterly disposable that no-one cares if there are enough left for all the dudes who want to marry.

  63. Frumious B

    “human reproduction worldwide — that’s right, even among affluent white college-educated career women with high IQs for whom it is both a “right” and a fulfilling lifestyle choice”

    Human reproduction is neither a “right” nor a “lifestyle choice”. It is the inevitable result of certain types of sexual activity*, purely biological in nature, not reflective upon the participants at all. I wish more people would absorb this.

    *The problematic nature of said activities is the subject of a whole ‘nother comment, or this entire blog.

  64. AlienNumber

    Frumious B, but didn’t you know that even humans with penises -and no ovaries- can *theoretically* choose to have abortions? This is why it’s important to fight for the right to abortion, because no man should be denied any rights, ever!
    /sarcasm.

    Sometimes we agree about science here. Other times, we don’t. Quite fascinating.

  65. K.A.

    I think it’s far more ethical to not bring female children into this world at all, especially in those areas where they are starved in favor of feeding sons, so I am relieved to hear that so many female fetuses are aborted over there to be honest. An end to sex-based oppression of female people would be a much, much bigger relief of course, but still.

  66. Nepenthe

    What on earth are you going on about AlienNumber? Humans who can’t gestate fetal humans can’t choose to have abortions. Whether that category is isomorphic to the category “man” is apparently your beef, but that argument has nothing to do with science.

  67. Jezebella

    K.A., wouldn’t it be more ethical to stop bringing *oppressors* into the world, if one is going to get into the business of telling women how, when, and why to reproduce?

    Oh, wait, radical feminists don’t *do* that. Never mind.

  68. K.A.

    But I wasn’t comparing the ethics of female vs. male fetus abortion. Of course I think aborting male fetuses on the basis of their maleness can be morally justified for feminist reasons as well. That goes without saying. I considered clarifying that point preemptively, although it wasn’t related to the point I was making, because I knew there would be someone who would miss the point.

  69. Jezebella

    I didn’t miss the point at all. Pressuring women to abort against their wishes is not ethical, regardless of the fetus’ gender. That was MY point.

  70. AlienNumber

    Nepenthe, allow me to explain.

    Of course humans who can’t gestate fetal humans (that is — all males and *some females) can’t choose to have abortions. But we keep going on and on lately around here about how such matters of basic biology are matters of choice or of rights or lifestyle that it’s gotten confusing/ridiculous. Next thing you know, male radical feminists will march about fighting for the right of males to have (imaginary) abortions (males already get pap smears for their imaginary cervices in some places!), while the females continue, um, scrubbing about kitchens or whatever it is we females do when we don’t type run-ons on computers.

    Maaaybe, one day, when science will help us figure out how to implant artificial uteri and completely mechanize reproduction, giving birth by any human – male or female – will be a matter of choice/rights/lifestyles, but until then, the females of the species (all of us) are oppressed because the males of the species haven’t yet figured out a way how to reproduce by themselves. Or who knows the real reason why we’re oppressed? I have a feeling it has to do with reproduction though.

    The erasure of femaleness (through this talk of rights and choices etc) is my beef.

  71. AlienNumber

    So a radfem Suggesting to another radfem that maybe it’s preferable, on feminist grounds, to abort male fetuses and spend one’s time raising females instead, is morally equivalent to oppressors everywhere Forcing women to abort female fetuses, because of patriarchal reasons?

    That’s funny!

  72. niki

    Thanks for the multiple positive P. Parenthood assessments. My question wasn’t ‘stupid’ as suggested, just ignorant because I’ve been blessed enough to this point to never be forced into visiting a Planned Parenthood. But you guys have fun tearing each other to shreds!

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