Monday, June 27, 2011

Gender Genocide

Paternalistic cultures breed gender genocide and violent abuse of women. For decades China's one infant policy forced families to choose to keep the prized male child while aborting the "inferior" females.  Likewise, Indian families' overuse of amniocentesis to verify the sex of their child as a "keeper," or "aborter" is well known. Paternalism breeds paternalism and women without voice or power have kept the cycle going unable to override the cultural pressures of eliminating the "unwanted." So it goes with paternalistic cultures in emerging countries in Africa, Asia and parts of the Middle East and it is especially true of barely viable countries and failed states. To what effect?

The reverberation is global; the fallout is dismal misery. On one level the perceived inferiority, victimization and helplessness of women globally has increased; the perception helps to create the reality. Few (in proportion) fight back. The ones who have the power are caught up in their own troubles. There is a lack of organization and movement except for non-profit agencies which in aggregate cannot hope to begin to deal with such a large scale fallout.

Despite the advance in technology and the economic emergence of former Third World countries, women's empowerment and voice for advocacy have been muffled. Women figureheads propped up to lead countries are shields for powerful families; males often rule or pull the strings behind the scenes. On another level, the skewed population numbers favoring males has encouraged trafficking and prostitution because there are "not enough women to go around," and mens' needs must be fulfilled.  The economic impact as men compete with men for jobs and their "place in the sun," has been telling as the downturn increased joblessness and lowered standards of living, with largely young male populations growing restive, disgruntled and violent. The repercussions are staggering because men are not typically caregivers or nurturers in paternalistic cultures, i.e. caring for children,  elderly parents or family members. Those are women's roles. What happens when there are fewer women to enact these roles?

Of course, as a Western nation, we cannot relate to this. The feminist movement made great strides in the early 70s and is twice as strong today. NOT! Maybe Western nations do not physically eliminate their females, but there is a concerted effort, whether conscious, unconscious or by default from historic behaviors, to mitigate, dilute, misdirect and recalculate womens' empowerment. Perhaps there is visible activism in NYC and large metropolitan areas, but it is certainly not what it should be to impact womens' economic status which is still far beneath mens' on average. (Have you looked at the Board of Directors of public US companies lately? Maybe there is one woman for every seven board members every tenth company scanned. There are more black men represented. Take a look at your shareholder yearly reports of the companies you own.)

If these issues resonate with you, then you might be interested in Mara Hvistendahl's  Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.

Her research is profound and intelligent, her thesis thought-provoking, especially for what she posits for us in the West.

In a taped interview given years ago by Sir William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, Golding said he firmly believed that the scenario he unfolded for Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Simon and the rest of the boys on the deserted island could never have occurred if girls were present with them. (The boys destroy their once heavenly tropical paradise and kill off three of their classmates. Lost, in plot and theme, was influenced by Golding's work, as is, most probably, Survivor, a few episodes of South Park and The Simpsons.) He implied that girls were the buffer, the softer influence, the force redirecting away from violence. He won the Novel Prize for Literature because his novels, "with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today."

Hmmm. Fewer women,  increasing tendency of Lord of the Flies scenario of violence????  Nahhhhhh!

FYI, if you are interested, see links below.


Anonymous said...

Wonderfully Written, and with

Carole Di Tosti said...

I think abortion of just female fetuses is not common in Kerala. The women's group "Anweshi" (Searcher) is working towards a "Gender-just, democratic and violence free society."

by Achamma

Carole Di Tosti said...

That is the hope. However, I have read that ultra sound portable units are carried in the backs of cars on the QT. And families pay for this. Abortions are still carried out, despite the government's attempt to enforce families not to abort female fetuses. Until there is cultural enlightment to the effect that this is destroying the culture, then it will continue. Old traditions in place for centuries die hard, as you know.