"The return of patriarchy," thanks to abortion

steyn.jpgFrom Mark Steyn, who I've decided I have a crush on, an excerpt from his column, Sexism, not Obama, beat Hillary, May 31:

Sex-selective abortion is a fact of life in India, where the gender ratio has declined to 1,000 boys to 900 girls nationally, and as low as 1,000 boys to 300 girls in some Punjabi cities.

bare branches.jpg

In China, the state-enforced "one child" policy has brought about the most gender-distorted demographic cohort in global history, the so-called guang gun - "bare branches." If you can only have one kid, parents choose to abort girls and wait for a boy, to the point where in the first generation to grow to adulthood under this policy there are 119 boys for every 100 girls. In practice, a "woman's right to choose" turns out to mean the right to choose not to have any women.

And what of the Western world?...

From 2000-05, Indian women in England and Wales gave birth to 114 boys for every 100 girls.

A similar pattern seems to be emerging among Chinese, Korean and Indian communities in America. "The sex of a firstborn child in these families conformed to the natural pattern of 1.05 boys to every girl, a pattern that continued for other children when the firstborn was a boy," wrote Colleen Carroll Campbell, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and former Bush speechwriter, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the other day. "But if the firstborn child was a girl, the likelihood of a boy coming next was considerably higher than normal at 1.17-to-1. After two girls, the probability of a boy's birth rose to a decidedly unnatural 1.51-to-1."

By midcentury, when today's millions of surplus boys will be entering middle age, India and China are expected to account for a combined 50 percent of global GDP. On present trends, they will be the most male-heavy societies that have ever existed.

As I wrote in my book America Alone, unless China's planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, what's going to happen to all those excess men? As a general rule, large numbers of excitable lads who can't get any action are not a recipe for societal stability. Unless the Japanese have invented amazingly lifelike sex robots by then (think Austin Powers' "fembots"), we're likely to be in a planetwide rape epidemic and a world of globalized, industrial-scale sex slavery.

And what of the Western world?

Canada
and Europe are in steep demographic decline and dependent on immigration to sustain their populations. And - as those Anglo-Welsh statistics suggest - many of the available immigrants are already from male-dominated cultures and will eventually be male-dominated numbers-wise, too....

Smaller families may mean just a boy or a girl for liberal Democrats, but in other societies it means just a boy. The Indian writer Gita Aravamudan calls this the "female feticide." Colleen Carroll Campbell writes that abortion, "touted as the key to liberating future generations of women," has become instead "the preferred means of eradicating them." And, while it won't eradicate all of them, Philip Longman, a demographer of impeccably liberal credentials, put the future in a nutshell in the title of his essay: The Return of Patriarchy.

Enlightened progressives take it for granted that social progress is like technological progress - that women's rights are like the internal combustion engine or the jet airplane: once invented they can't be uninvented.

gilary.jpgBut that's a careless assumption. There was a small, nothing story out of Toronto this week - the York University Federation of Students wants a campuswide ban on any pro-life student clubs. Henceforth, students would be permitted to debate abortion only "within a pro-choice realm," as the vice-president Gilary Massa put it.

Nothing unusual there. A distressing number of student groups are inimical to free speech these days. But then I saw a picture of the gung-ho abortion absolutist: Gilary Massa is a young Muslim woman covered in a hijab.

[Photo of Massa courtesy of revertmuslims.com]


Comments:

From the Revert Muslim website posted on Jill's post:

"Marriage – Criteria for mate selection (Workshop)

This lecture will provide individuals the Islamic criteria for male selection. Learn about the different forms of marriage: Permanent Marriage (Nikkah), Temporary Marriage (Mut’ah) and the philosophy behind Polygamy. This class will also hand out Marriage Application forms, which single participants may fill out and leave with the Event Coordinator. Complete details will be provided at the conference."

With males selling at a dime a dozen, these gals will have plenty of fish in the sea.

The boys on the other hand...

Posted by: carder at June 2, 2008 5:34 PM


SoMG's got it all figured out, you know.

Too many guys, panic strikes, and then it's off to pump out as many girls at the expense of males. Just a little table-turning, that's all.

Posted by: carder at June 2, 2008 5:59 PM


Carder what? What did SoMG say? This is what happens when you aren't a feminist and don't believe females are equal to males. If you label females as weak and stupid of course people will prefer males. We aren't weak and stupid though. Not at all.

Posted by: Jess at June 2, 2008 6:40 PM


When a country allows only one child, parents are going to want a boy to carry on the family name and take care of them in old age.

Posted by: Carla at June 2, 2008 6:53 PM


"we're likely to be in a planetwide rape epidemic and a world of globalized, industrial-scale sex slavery."

Uhh...slippery slope much?

It takes a WHOLE lot more than "lack of action" to make a man a rapist. And I love how a MALE doesn't even give his species enough credit not to become a bunch of mass raping monsters when they're outnumbered. That sounds like that kind of crap y'all would normally associate with a "rabid feminist"!

Based on that ridiculous theory, any guy who's single for a while is just a rape waiting to happen or keeping a pimp in business? What about widowers? Divorcees? Any stats to substantiate ANY theory about men resorting to prostitution and rape just because they're unmarried?

Posted by: Amanda at June 2, 2008 7:11 PM


What do you think will happen in China if this continues, Amanda?

Posted by: Carla at June 2, 2008 7:14 PM


Jess,

I'm paraphrasing, and SoMG can correct me, but he stated that he's not all that worried about female fetus search-and-destroy. Once the folks realize that there's too many boys, then the reverse will happen. They will abort the excess male fetus in order to achieve the desired female.

It all balances out in the end.

Posted by: carder at June 2, 2008 7:21 PM


Carla...

I think there will be a lot of lonely guys... and a lot of guys who feel VERY lucky to have ended up getting married, who will be the start a generation of Chinese men who have a WHOLE lot more respect for women than previous generations (generations going back LONG before sex-selection abortions or the one-child policy).

Not saying whats going on there now is a good thing..AT ALL...but forcasting a rape pandemic is VERY far fetched. There are LOTS of lonely people out there in the world, we all know that. Being lonely and/or not "getting any", as the author so eloquently put it does NOT create rapists.

Posted by: Amanda at June 2, 2008 7:40 PM


Jill, you have it backwards.

Abortion of female fetuses does not cause patriarchy.

Patriarchy causes abortion of female fetuses.

That's why Americans don't have this problem.

Posted by: reality at June 2, 2008 8:23 PM


Hi Amanda,
I do not know Chinese culture but something tells me they aren't too keen on respecting women right now. I don't want to talk about rape but I do think this is very, very serious. It will only continue and what is the solution going to be when we have never been here before?

"On present trends, they will be the most male-heavy societies that ever existed."

EVER. EXISTED.

Posted by: Carla at June 2, 2008 8:43 PM


No you're right - they don't know, but it hasn't really become reality YET. I mean, keep in mind this started a LOONNNNNNG time ago. Long before gender could be determined by ultrasound, people were killing their female babies after they were born. This isn't something new, its just that an age old practice COMBINED with the one-child policy is starting to catch up with them - there is no denying that. But as reality pointed out, its not going to CAUSE patriarchy, it is a RESULT of patriarchy. All that being said, normal healthy men do not commit rape. Mentally disturbed, sick men do. Though there will obviously be problems as a result of the ratio, I don't think some kind of rape epidemic is realistic.

Posted by: Amanda at June 2, 2008 8:59 PM


I don't know about the rape scenario but the sex slavery thing is already coming to pass.
In China the kidnapping of women and children has exploded as well as polyandry (forced).

Posted by: Patricia at June 2, 2008 9:12 PM


Amanda:7:40: I think there will be a lot of lonely guys... and a lot of guys who feel VERY lucky to have ended up getting married, who will be the start a generation of Chinese men who have a WHOLE lot more respect for women than previous generations

I hope you are right. Do you think they'll recognize a woman when they see one? (half-kidding!)

Posted by: Janet at June 2, 2008 9:43 PM


"Already coming to pass"?

Are you serious, Patricia?

Because umm... that has been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Only RECENTLY have we actually been cracking down on trafficked children and most countries are doing very little about it. Most countries don't actually care, except on paper.

Why?

1. Prostitution isn't legal in the U.S., so it's unregulated, under-the-table schemes where a lot of prostitutes are young, homeless girls and trafficked girls.

2. Hello Patriarchy. Where would those rich political leaders go to get off if we stopped human trafficking and prostitution?

Fact: Most of the men who purchase children (overseas) for sex are business travelers. They have lots of money, and a twisted fetish for the dominance of young, innocent women. And as we all know, in America business governs government!

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 9:48 PM


Amanda,

I don't think the absence of women will make men themselves value women more -- in actuality it's the PARENTS who are realizing that they're missing out.

Many of the men are simply migrating to other countries where there are women and jobs. When they leave, their parents are left alone (because of the one-child policy) and that has actually led to the creation of "daughter" adoption services. The elderly parents are looking for adult-age women to look after them and visit with them because their only child has left the nest. As women are traditionally the caretakers of the parents, this service is in high demand, particularly in wealthier areas.

I think once younger parents start noticing this trend, they'll be more likely to pressure the government into getting rid of the one-child policy.

Misogyny... however... I think the parents are letting go... but right now young Chinese men know they are worth more than women, and I can't imagine that would be good for any young woman, Chinese or not.

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 9:55 PM


Reality 8:23PM

How do you know for a fact Americans don't have this problem?
In 1982 four out of five fetuses aborted for being the wrong sex here in the USA were female.
What's to stop a woman in this country from aborting a child of the "wrong" sex.

Also, don't you think easy and available abortion of females allows for the continuation of the patriarchal society, and the second choice second class status of women, in India and elsewhere?
I once read a quote by an Indian doctor who supported sex selection abortion because this way a woman did not "have to give birth to many undesirable females" before she had the much coveted male child.

Posted by: Mary at June 2, 2008 10:02 PM


Edyt - I think you're right in terms of the cities - but so much of China is rural - with poor working class who aren't really in the position to move to other countries. Since its such a HUGE cultural thing to a Chinese man to be able to pass on his name, I do think the reality will set in that you need a woman for that... and not a prostitute obviously, but a wife and mother, as "illegitimate" children are so frowned upon. Obviously it's not something that will happen overnight, but I think there will be a very gradual realization.

The upper class educated men though - you're absolutely right - will just leave the countries. I think its already happening.

Posted by: Amanda at June 2, 2008 10:09 PM


I think it is very clear, abortion devalues females.

Posted by: LB at June 2, 2008 10:10 PM


Mary,

Also, don't you think easy and available abortion of females allows for the continuation of the patriarchal society, and the second choice second class status of women, in India and elsewhere?

No. Letting men to dominate and control women allows for the continuation of a patriarchal society.

Allowing women to have control over her reproductive organs is a very strong statement that she OWNS her body. No one else. Of course, men will still try to force women to have/not have abortions, take/not take contraceptives, and so forth ... but a true symbol of a woman's independence is the ability to choose for herself what is best for her body.

Did you know in some countries women are killed for giving up their virginity before marriage? Look up the story on Du'a Khalil Aswad, a 17-year-old Kurdish woman who was stoned to death by her own family members because they thought she had sex with her Muslim boyfriend.

The stoning was caught on numerous cell phone videos and put online.

The family members tore off her skirt, kicked her, threw a concrete block on her skull. After the blood poured out from her face, her father checked her ... turns out she was still a virgin after all.

Abortion is illegal in Iraq, unless in the case of fetal deformity or the woman's life is in danger (she must carry to term even with health or mental risks).

Du'a was not allowed to be in control of her body and she was killed for the suspicion that she had had sex. Making abortion illegal won't change the fact that women are being controlled, abused, and killed every day around the world because they're seen as lesser human beings. Hell, I don't even think making abortion legal will make women be seen as equal beings. But I do think a woman should have ownership of her own body, and abortion is but one facet of that.

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 10:21 PM


LB 10:10PM

Where the feminists who promoted abortion are concerned, I think this is a classic example of..."be very careful what you wish for, you just might get it".

Another favorite of mine that applies to this is: "When the gods want to punish humans, they answer their prayers."

Posted by: Mary at June 2, 2008 10:22 PM


Amanda,

I think you're right in terms of the cities - but so much of China is rural - with poor working class who aren't really in the position to move to other countries. Since its such a HUGE cultural thing to a Chinese man to be able to pass on his name, I do think the reality will set in that you need a woman for that... and not a prostitute obviously, but a wife and mother, as "illegitimate" children are so frowned upon. Obviously it's not something that will happen overnight, but I think there will be a very gradual realization.

That's a really good point. I wonder if the Chinese government has been thinking about changing its policies because of these standards, or if they're still just as much or more concerned with its population boom.

Ah, this is one of those situations where I just want to cry and tell people to let go of their cultural pride... for the sake of their children.

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 10:27 PM


@Edyt: Why wasn't her Muslim boyfriend stoned to death as well and had his clothes ripped off as he was killed? I mean dang- it does take two to tango.

Good lord some countries are ass-backwards.

Posted by: Rae at June 2, 2008 10:28 PM


Edyt,

So long as women can be disposed of legally and easily, women will remain relegated to second choice second class status and patriarchal societies will remain strong.
Its the laws and mentality that have to change. Why bother when its so much easier to get rid of unwanted females?
The women of India were given control of their bodies. So why does the patriarchal society remain strong? Because these women are disposing of their unwanted daughters. Through their actions they are helping to maintain the status quo.
Like I said Edyt, ..."be very careful what you wish for..."

Posted by: Mary at June 2, 2008 10:28 PM


Rae,

Imagine these countries legalizing abortion of females.

Posted by: Mary at June 2, 2008 10:30 PM


@Mary: Then they'd suddenly have to start executing everybody because no women would lead all those horny men to start boinking eachother and homosexuality is punishable by death in Islamic countries.

Posted by: Rae at June 2, 2008 10:34 PM


Why wasn't her Muslim boyfriend stoned to death as well and had his clothes ripped off as he was killed? I mean dang- it does take two to tango.

Rae,

Men don't have to remain virgins in their culture. I really hate to generalize so please don't take it this way, but I was raised in a very Muslim area and this is what I noticed:

Lots of Muslim guys will date white women for awhile, sleep around with them, and then get married to a good, virgin, Muslim girl.

In fact, one woman I spoke with (I interviewed her for an article I was writing) was half-Pakistani ... her father impregnated her mother, and then when his parents set him up, he went running back to Pakistan to marry his betrothed. I actually love this girl (we'll call her C.) because she ended up contacting her dad and embarrassing him in front of his whole family. She called the phone company, pretending to be his wife, and asked for all the recent numbers they had dialed. Then C called all of them and said she was his illegitimate daughter. It caused quite a stir.

Anyway, that's how it is. Muslim guys (not all of them!) tend to have whatever they want handed to them on a silver platter. They have a lot of freedom and aren't looked down upon for sleeping with girls, as long as he marries a good virgin girl of his own faith.

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 10:37 PM


Rae,

Interesting perspective. You very well make my point. Women would be disposed of.

Posted by: Mary at June 2, 2008 10:39 PM


@Edyt: Oh I understand that. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

Now my question is this- is it because of the religion of Islam *or* is it because of the traditional Arab/Persian/Pashtun culture?

Posted by: Rae at June 2, 2008 10:41 PM


The women of India were given control of their bodies. So why does the patriarchal society remain strong? Because these women are disposing of their unwanted daughters. Through their actions they are helping to maintain the status quo.

Oh, god, Mary. Women won't be magically able to overthrow the patriarchy simply because they have "enough" women. You forget so easily that these are ingrained ideas that both men AND women perpetuate. And the big idea is that men are worth more than women. That women are lesser beings.

What you need to get rid of such an idea is progressive thought. People who look at the patriarchy and go "That's not right." AND that idea has to come from (surprise) both MEN AND WOMEN!

Those women who are disposing of their daughters are just as much victims and perpetrators of the patriarchy as men are.

It sucks, but it will take a long time for women and men to change their ideas to a more progressive one. (Some would say the notion that women and men are equal is a radical one.)

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 10:42 PM


Mary...

Laws don't change attitudes that have been part of a culture for literally dynasties - thousands of years. You ban abortion in China, you go back to the way it was before ultrasounds - where infant girls were tossed off of cliffs or thrown away with the trash by the THOUSANDS. The proof that this isn't a RESULT of abortion but rather that abortion is a result of IT, is that the same thing is going on even with families who do not choose to abort. Orphanages in China are FILLED with girls. Unwated, but born girls.

Posted by: Amanda at June 2, 2008 10:51 PM


Now my question is this- is it because of the religion of Islam *or* is it because of the traditional Arab/Persian/Pashtun culture?

I think they go hand in hand. It's the traditional culture that began the notion, but the religion of Islam that justifies and perpetuates it, if that makes sense. It's very easy for a culture to continue to oppress another group of people if "God said so." And of course, that parallels America's oppression of women, which even today is justified by the idea that women are subservient beings, according to God.

Actually, since the 1920s until very recently, Iraqi women were growing in their freedoms. They were free to go where they wanted and wear what they wanted (wearing the burka was more of a tradition and religious symbol than a law). Many were professors at universities and most women were literary. A constitution was drafted in the 1970s that gave women more equal rights than anywhere else in the world. So overall, things were pretty good for women (they had their first women's right movement in the 1920s, I believe).

However, after the U.S. invasion, women were stripped of their rights, the constitution was overturned, and ... now unequal and lesser beings, they have become victims of horrible violence and persecution. I don't know exactly why that happened, but I have a feeling that it was because of a) relocation of power, b) persons in power having different ideals of how valuable women are, and c) fear - which leads people to try to attain as much power as possible, even if it is only over one other person. Women are just easy targets.

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 10:55 PM


"Actually, since the 1920s until very recently, Iraqi women were growing in their freedoms. They were free to go where they wanted and wear what they wanted (wearing the burka was more of a tradition and religious symbol than a law)."

@Edyt: I thought women's rights in Iraq started being repealed back when Saddam came in to power. I recall hearing from my dad that Iraq was actually a really promising, potentially democratic country (much like Pakistan) and then Saddam came in and pretty much farked up everything the Iraqis had done in the previous decades.

I also wonder if there is a difference between Islam in Arab/Persian countries and Islam in countries like Indonesia and India. Granted, I don't know a lot of Indonesian Muslims but I work with several Indian Muslims and they're all female and none of them wear hijabs or anything.

Posted by: Rae at June 2, 2008 11:01 PM


Mary --

I think you really have it there at 10:22.

The pro-abortion feminists really get it wrong. The only issue they are interested in is to devalue the special abilities that women have -- to bear children and influence society by raising them. If you want to change society you should be for having a society -- not killing it off.

Unless, of course, you want to take Ms. Sanger's tact and eliminate those you deem inferior --- oh, I forgot PP is all about that....

Posted by: LB at June 2, 2008 11:05 PM


Rae -

I think the difference is not whether or not the majority of the country is Muslim, but whether the government is run under Islamic law. I mean, being in Morocco, which is 99% Muslim, but on the liberal side of things, I'd say only about 1/2 of the women I saw were wearing full garb - most wore western clothes with scarves over their hair - no different from an Orthodox Jew really.

As far as what you said about Iraq, thats what my dad had told me too (thank goodness for dads..haha). Of course, OUR government put Saddam there, because we didn't want to bother going after Iran ourselves. Just trying to wrap my head around all of the horror that caused, and will continue to cause...and its really 100% the responsibility of the US *shudder*.

Posted by: Anonymous at June 2, 2008 11:09 PM


oops that was me ( just the local idiot chicken)

=)

Posted by: Amanda at June 2, 2008 11:12 PM


LB @ 11:05: Mary --

I think you really have it there at 10:22.

The pro-abortion feminists really get it wrong. The only issue they are interested in is to devalue the special abilities that women have -- to bear children and influence society by raising them. If you want to change society you should be for having a society -- not killing it off.

Amen! Respect for women is what they want but they don't practice what they preach.


Posted by: Janet at June 2, 2008 11:15 PM


I thought women's rights in Iraq started being repealed back when Saddam came in to power. I recall hearing from my dad that Iraq was actually a really promising, potentially democratic country (much like Pakistan) and then Saddam came in and pretty much farked up everything the Iraqis had done in the previous decades.

Yes, I do think he had a lot to do with it, being the "traditional family values" type of guy. I don't have a very strong picture of Iraqi history, but I think equal rights started declining around the time of the Gulf War (1991) due to U.N. sanctions. It's what I've heard from the people who live there that it has become much more violent since the U.S. invasion. I'm sure both play a role.

I also wonder if there is a difference between Islam in Arab/Persian countries and Islam in countries like Indonesia and India. Granted, I don't know a lot of Indonesian Muslims but I work with several Indian Muslims and they're all female and none of them wear hijabs or anything.

I'm not too sure either. :\ My Middle Eastern history is largely from reading the news, talking to people from that region, and reading a few books. So I haven't put all the puzzle pieces together yet in my head. I do know that Iraq (before 1991) was considered the most progressive of all Middle Eastern countries, so I would assume that right now their values for women are probably close to the same.

Ask your co-workers about their history sometime, and their choice to not wear the hijab. I know some women view it as a symbol of oppression, others see it as following religion, and a few women I've spoken with say they enjoy having guys get to know them for their personalities rather than their looks!

So, eh, everyone's different, I guess. I would ask them though. And then let me know what they say! :)

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 11:22 PM


"oops that was me ( just the local idiot chicken)"

@Amanda: Chicken is delicious.

Posted by: Rae at June 2, 2008 11:24 PM


The pro-abortion feminists really get it wrong. The only issue they are interested in is to devalue the special abilities that women have -- to bear children and influence society by raising them. If you want to change society you should be for having a society -- not killing it off.

Uh huh. Of course. Feminists don't give a damn about women at all! What ever am I going on about women and domestic violence and honor killings for? All I really want is for an Iraqi woman to get an abortion from some sleazy pedophile abortionist!

/sarcasm

Hey, by the way, even if your population is growing at an exponential rate, you still have the ability to continue on an ideology that is harmful to women. Making your population bigger won't automatically make women more valuable.

Posted by: Edyt at June 2, 2008 11:26 PM


I grew up during the 70s and was raised to be a strong woman by my parents. They really valued all seven of us --- my 6 brothers and I as unique individuals.

I remember being puzzled by the so-called feminists I encountered growing up. They seemed so intent on making women 'just as good as men' or actually just like men. To me, that was kind of insulting because women and men were equally good and all that needed to be done was to ensure that they were treated equally.

Feminism seems to have stalled on the women are just like men thing, or perhaps, that women are just like men, only better. I think this is were the promotion of abortion comes in -- that women can kill, just like men.

Most women my age never wanted to be identified with the whole feminist label, but were very determined to pursue careers in the field of our choosing and then create a family and raise children. We are raising children who see the genders as equally valuable.

While us GenXers were busy changing the world by pursuing our lives, the old feminists are still busy pushing abortion and devaluing motherhood (ranking it as an unpaid job). When there are positives going on, glass ceilings shattering --- those feminists are still pushing baby-killing as a social good. As millions of women find ways to have careers and also be active parents; the pro-aborts keep telling women that babies will ruin there lives.

Here is an article about the rise in the killing of female infants and the feminists are finding a way to blame it on the US. They don't even de-cry the practice; perhaps they think of those girls being killed as 'others' or undesirable "in the Sanger tradition".

Posted by: LB at June 2, 2008 11:57 PM


Amazing how people via insane government policies can deny a basic gift of God, a wife.

Proverbs 18:22 "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD."


Posted by: HisMan at June 3, 2008 1:38 AM


Edyt:

Are your trying to tell me that population control of any kind is OK? Even if it means killing a disproportionate number of your sisters?

Posted by: HisMan at June 3, 2008 1:40 AM


Amanda,

Someone may have said this already, I havent finished reading all the comments, but....

Based on that ridiculous theory, any guy who's single for a while is just a rape waiting to happen or keeping a pimp in business? What about widowers? Divorcees? Any stats to substantiate ANY theory about men resorting to prostitution and rape just because they're unmarried?

It's not JUST that there are more men than women, it's the fact that these particular men are being raised in a society that don't value women. Put tons of men together, in a society where women are looked at as useless, disposable, objects...and THAT'S when you might get this "rape/sex slavery" mentality.

Posted by: mk at June 3, 2008 5:41 AM


Amanda 10:51PM

Laws don't change cultural attitudes that are centuries old, but neither does abortion. In China and India abortion has only better enabled the maintaining of the second class status of women.

Its like arguing that outlawing lynching would not address the problem of centuries old racism and the second class status of black citizens.
True. But it was certainly a weapon by which this status was maintained, racism perpertuated and black people kept in their "place".

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 5:45 AM


Edyt,

Please, just some examples of how abortion has elevated the status of women in India.

Some examples of how the lives of women are more valued and women more respected because of abortion.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 5:47 AM


LB--I've often thought of that. In America women had to go through the "I'm just as strong as a man" stage in order to get where we are today. In the 1970's and 1980's, femininity was still associated with weakness, at least in the professional sphere. That is much less the case today. One may not like Nancy Pelosi's politics, but the fact that she gave a speech on education surrounded by her grandchildren is a pretty big deal. "I'm here. I'm strong. And the fact that I am a mother and grandmother is part of my strength." She wouldn't have been able to get away with that in 1970 without being dismissed as some old biddy too busy with the kids for politics.

And I join my voice to those pointing out that it is the anti-girl patriarchal and social traditions that favor girls over boys that cause gender-selective abortions.

Parts of China and India are already feeling the effects of this. China is doing a huge PR campaign to encourage people to have and educate their girls. Again, it's not going to reverse years of anti-woman Confucianism, but it's a start. Doctors in India are forbidden by law from telling parents the gender of their fetus. Again, it's not perfect, but it's a start.

Posted by: DRF at June 3, 2008 6:19 AM


Edyt,
"I think that once parents start noticing this trend, they'll be more likely to pressure the government into getting rid of the one child policy."
Do you know what happens to people that pressure the government of China? How do you stand against a government that enforces its one child policy by taking women who are 9 months pregnant from their homes and killing their children in the womb by force?

DRF,
To keep the one-child policy but "encourage people to have an educate their girls" doesn't make any sense. They kill their girls over there because there is a one-child policy.

Posted by: Carla at June 3, 2008 6:45 AM



I believe it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who said that you can cannot change men's hearts but you can change laws.
He certainly didn't sit around waiting for attitudes against racism to change.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 7:57 AM


"To keep the one-child policy but "encourage people to have an educate their girls" doesn't make any sense. They kill their girls over there because there is a one-child policy."

Carla - you're absolutely right, but it goes beyond that as well. Before the one-child policy, female infanticide was still common in poor families because parents could only afford to feed so many children and wanted boys - especially in farming communities where boys were not only more valued for their gender, but for their labor as well.

Anyone who's interested in this should read a book called "Spring Moon". Its a fictional character set in the backdrop of non-fictional Chinese history - a really intense read, but worth it.

MK - I don't disagree with the theory that solicitation of prostitutes will continue to increase, but I think rape is something completely seperate. Not only because of the fact that mentally healthy men do not commit rape, but also because a child concieved from rape, even a son, would not be viewed as a legitimate son of the rapist - he couldn't pass on his name to this child - which is of HUGE importance to them. I think the much more realistic scenario is that men will start taking younger and younger "brides". Again - not saying thats a good thing at all, just a lot more realistic than the idea of them becoming rapists.

Posted by: Amanda at June 3, 2008 9:10 AM


(MK- the part about the prostitution and trafficking I disagreed with is the fact that the author made it sound like it was a NEW thing - and insinuated its root cause was abortion, when in reality its as old as China itself and has nothing to do with abortion. Before legal abortion, parents would just sell their daughters in to brothels.)

Posted by: Amanda at June 3, 2008 9:19 AM


Amanda,

Certainly female infanticide existed in China. However, economic and living conditions have improved. Its not that people do not want to have the children its that they are ordered by the state to have only one. Where people might be happy about having a girl if they know they can try again, they do not have this option after one child. Though of course wealthier Chinese have more options.
This results in female feticide instead of female infanticide.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 9:24 AM


Mary - I don't disagree. I just think its disingenuous to call it a "return to patriarchy" and blame abortion for it. The truth is, its ALWAYS been a patriarchy, long before abortion or the one-child policy. Like you said, its not that many families wouldn't WANT to try again for a boy after they had a girl. So abortion isn't the problem really, its the one-child policy. Targetting abortion as the primary cause of this mess is like targetting a 17 year old dealing pot on the street instead of the drug lord responsible for importing it here in the first place. Stop the 17 year old instead of the source of the problem, fine, they'll just find another kid to deal the drugs on the street. Stop legal abortion instead of the one-child policy, fine, they'll just find another way to get rid of their daughters.

Posted by: Amanda at June 3, 2008 9:54 AM


Amanda,

I think we can both agree that abortion has helped perpetuate the long ongoing patriarchy, as well as the second choice second class status of women.
So if we don't have abortion they'll just find another way to get rid of daughters? By all means then, let's keep abortion legal and make it easier for them to do so.
I hope I wasn't reading that right Amanda.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 10:13 AM


"So if we don't have abortion they'll just find another way to get rid of daughters? By all means then, let's keep abortion legal and make it easier for them to do so."

Well, I'd much rather be aborted than tossed off a cliff or left to die in the woods or be sold in to prostitution. I'm only saying you can't get rid of abortion BEFORE getting rid of the policy. It would be completely counter productive.

Posted by: Amanda at June 3, 2008 10:18 AM


Amanda,

So deliberately disposing of females one way is a little more desirable than another.
This one child policy is possible only because abortion is legal and women in China can be forced into abortion if necessary to enforce this policy. Legal abortion is not always a matter of choice or control of her body for a Chinese woman who does NOT want one but is forced by the state to have an abortion. Without legal abortion it would be much more difficult if not virtually impossible to enforce the one child policy.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 10:27 AM


Steyn clearly does not understand the nature of rape at all. Men do not go out and rape women because they want sex and aren't getting any; rape, ecspecially violent rape, is about power, not sex.

Posted by: Anonymous at June 3, 2008 10:37 AM


"This one child policy is possible only because abortion is legal and women in China can be forced into abortion if necessary to enforce this policy."

I'm fairly certain that ultrasound couldn't be accurately used to determine sex until the early 80s. So the policy was in place BEFORE it was possible to intentionally abort a female.

From what I've read the original plan was to sterilize women after the birth of their first child - male OR female. The forced abortion thing came after that failed, and the gender selection abortion came after that. Keep in mind though, that we're now talking about two different things. The mandated abortions are for additional pregnancies after the first child, regardless of sex. The abortions people are CHOOSING to have are more related to finding out its a girl. If you get rid of the policy FIRST, you get rid of the need to force abortions, AND the desire to abort girls rather than have more children. You ban abortion before you ban the policy, you go back to forced sterilizations and infanticide of BOTH sexes to avoid fines and punishment, though still mostly females I'd bet.

Posted by: Amanda at June 3, 2008 11:20 AM


Amanda,

Before there was ultrasound there was amniocentesis. Yes it was possible to deliberately abort a female child. I remember one doctor I knew being asked by a patient for an amniocentesis to determine her child's sex. If it was a female she planned to"get rid of it".
The doctor refused and the woman went to term. Lucky break for the little girl that was born.

The point is women are willingly aborting female children. This might well take place in China even if the woman could have more than one child, as it has in India.
Yes the centuries old attitudes toward women certainly must change, but why should they if disposing of women is so much easier?

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 11:36 AM


HisMan,

Are your trying to tell me that population control of any kind is OK? Even if it means killing a disproportionate number of your sisters?

Not at all. Where'd you get that notion from?

Posted by: Edyt at June 3, 2008 12:02 PM


Mary, I know you don't like reading my posts, but you really really should so that we don't keep going over the same BS over and over again.

You asked: Please, just some examples of how abortion has elevated the status of women in India. Some examples of how the lives of women are more valued and women more respected because of abortion.

And I already answered this when I said:

Making abortion illegal won't change the fact that women are being controlled, abused, and killed every day around the world because they're seen as lesser human beings. Hell, I don't even think making abortion legal will make women be seen as equal beings. But I do think a woman should have ownership of her own body, and abortion is but one facet of that.

Now I'll elaborate so that you really understand...

Having the BASIC rights to choose what to do with your body - what to wear, where to go, who to speak with, whether to take tylenol or the pill or get a vaccination - should all be rights given exclusively to that person. (Exceptions are, of course, made for children.) Having the BASIC right to control your own body is a symbol that you are not property, you are your own human being who can make decisions for yourself.

When you give the government, or your family members, the right to decide what is best for YOUR body, you no longer have basic human rights.

So again, making abortion legal only ensures the basic human right of control over your own body. It may or may not help human rights, but generally in countries where abortion is illegal, misogyny also runs rampant and violence toward women is encouraged.

Posted by: Edyt at June 3, 2008 12:11 PM


I seriously doubt having an amnio (and even an ultrasound) was an option for women in most of China in 1979. Even 30 years later, outside of the cities, the majority of China is WAY behind in medical technology.

Posted by: Amanda at June 3, 2008 12:13 PM


Edyt,

When did I ever say I didn't like reading your posts?

You argue that a woman must have control over her own body and that abortion is but a facet of that.
I point out that the women of India have the "right" to control their bodies with the one of the facets you mention, which is abortion. I also point out that this control(abortion) has done nothing to elevate the status of women but has maintained the patriarchy and second choice and class status quo of women. If anything, it has debased even further the value of women's lives.
You argue that generally in countries where abortion is illegal violence toward women is encouraged.
Do the women of India suffer less violence and abuse?

I support education, freedom, better health care, and human rights for women no less than you or anyone else. I argue legal abortion in India has done much to maintain the patriarchal status quo and the devaluation of the lives of women. If you support Indian women having access to legal abortion in spite of that, so be it.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 1:18 PM


Amanda,

Amniocentesis was available then and even if rural Chinese women didn't have access, more well to do women might well have.
I think sex selection abortion came about because of this one child policy initially. Baby girls would just be abandoned or killed at birth. Better diagnostic tools made killing them in the womb a little more socially acceptable. Obviously plenty of women in China and India(which had no one child policy) had access to prenatal diagnosis, and they have the lopsided population to prove it.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 1:23 PM


You argue that a woman must have control over her own body and that abortion is but a facet of that.

Yes. Along with many other facets. It is not the only issue that goes along with women's rights.

I point out that the women of India have the "right" to control their bodies with the one of the facets you mention, which is abortion.

Not necessarily. India has many restrictions on abortion, so not everyone can attain one.

I also point out that this control(abortion) has done nothing to elevate the status of women but has maintained the patriarchy and second choice and class status quo of women. If anything, it has debased even further the value of women's lives.

How so?

You argue that generally in countries where abortion is illegal violence toward women is encouraged.

Yes and no. From statistics, yes, that's what we've seen. In countries where abortion is illegal, women in general tend to have more restrictions and suffer from domestic abuse to a higher degree. The point is not to make abortion legal, as if it will fix gendered violence, but to create and allow for the autonomy of women (of which abortion is but one facet - not the key aim). When a woman's body is seen as having as much "worth" as a man's, that is, when women are seen as people too, with the right to make their own decisions in regards to property, education, overall freedom and health, they are less likely to be victimized. For example, a young woman who feels respected, independent, and intelligent, will be less likely to settle down with an abusive husband (studies have shown women who receive higher education are less likely to be in domestic violence situations). The problem is not, at its root, about whether abortion is legal or illegal. The problem is misogyny and the idea that women are less than men.

So access to abortion and other reproductive and health services is just one area where women's independence and autonomy is displayed. In countries where a woman needs her husband's consent to take the pill, she will have a more likely chance of being oppressed in other ways.

Do the women of India suffer less violence and abuse?

Than who? Women in Iraq? Yes. But again, violence is a worldwide problem and even in America, women are still fighting to be seen as equal beings - under the law, in the workplace, and at home.

Even if laws were suddenly invented that said "Women have all the same rights as men" in every part of the world, I don't think gendered violence would go away. I think it will have to be a gradual change that results from a changing mindset in a culture.

You brought up Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote about changing laws. And he's partially right - changing laws is a good first step. But as we can still see today - racism is a BIG issue that was not completely resolved by passing laws.

I've been searching for a good, comprehensive study with little luck, so I'll let you know if I can find anything else about violence rates against women worldwide, on a country basis. I do know that Western Europe has some of the most liberal abortion laws, and from what I can tell, they also have the most freedom when it comes to women. But abortion, freedom, and violence are all three separate issues and it's hard to figure out where they all connect.

Posted by: Edyt at June 3, 2008 2:31 PM


Edyt,

I acknowledged that abortion was but a facet, not the only one.

The women in India obviously have no trouble obtaining sex selection abortions as is made apparent by the lopsided population.

How are Indian women devalued? By their deliberate destruction for no other reason than the fact they are women. Do you think this in any way enhances the value of women's lives?

As I said I strongly support human rights for women, as well as education, healthcare, etc.
I agree that abortion, freedom and violence are three seperated issues and a connection, if there is one, is hard to figure out. You are the one who made the statement that in countries where abortion is illegal violence toward women in encouraged.

Are Indian women less abused now than they were before abortion was legal? I asked that because of your statement connecting illegal abortion and violence against women.

No, gendered violence will not go away, however I still strongly support laws against rape, FGM,domestic violence, etc.

Dr. King didn't wait for society to change. Laws had to be changed. The Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts being among many. Feminists fought for more effective laws against rape, they didn't wait for social attitudes to change. As far as I'm concerned our society is still in the dark ages on this, but I'm sure we would all agree the feminists did the right thing.

Posted by: Mary at June 3, 2008 3:30 PM


Mary --

Dr. King didn't wait for society to change. Laws had to be changed. The Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts being among many. Feminists fought for more effective laws against rape, they didn't wait for social attitudes to change. As far as I'm concerned our society is still in the dark ages on this, but I'm sure we would all agree the feminists did the right thing.

For someone arguing Edyt's point of view, this is irrelevant to the argument. Dr. King did not work to suspend rights he believed people SHOULD have because society had yet to evolve to a point where it was not using those rights to enforce a patriarchal, devaluing system. He worked to give people rights they did not have. Edyt's point is that the right of a human being to control her body is essential to being free -- so suspending this right because "society isn't changing" would be very, very different from giving people freedoms and rights they did not have. Civil rights, anti-rape legislation -- these are all things that a free society, a society that respects its citizens, will have. To someone arguing Edyt's point, so is the right of a human being to control her own body. It would not be okay to SUSPEND civil rights were they being abused somehow, so it does not make sense to argue that a country where the society is using the right of bodily control to harm itself rather than better itself is somehow an example against giving it the freedom to do that.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 4, 2008 11:28 AM


Alexandra,

Part of this debate has been that ages old customs of patriarchal countries, not abortion, are the problem. Its been argued that abortion should still be legal in these countries since eliminating abortion won't eliminate the second class status of women in these countries. I argue that laws have to be changed, including laws legalizing abortion, and gave examples where this occured in spite of ages old prejudices, which by the way were not eliminated, as seen where rape victims are concerned.

I agree customs and prejudices against women must change. I believe changing laws is the only way to get the ball rolling. I also believe abortion has been a tool, India for example, to maintain the second choice second class status quo of women. Even the leader of India expressed concern about this.
Why better the situation for women when its so much easier to simply dispose of them? Some argue that changing the laws supporting abortion isn't solving the real problem, the old prejudices must be eliminated. This argument is highly selective since we hear support for laws against FGM, rape, and domestic violence despite ages old customs and no one says these customs and prejudices must first be eliminated.

We can't change men's hearts, but we can change laws. Whatever the customs, there must be laws to protect women, and I feel against abortion, which is only further devaluing women, especially in India.

Whether Dr.King worked to suspend or support rights is strictly in the point of view. Those whites raised in a segregated society saw no problem with second class citizenship for blacks.
They viewed Dr.King as "upitty" and someone who should be silenced, a troublemaker. They viewed this as an infringement on their rights. I remember all too well what an emotionally charged and violent episode this was.

If you have no issue with abortion being used as a tool to keep women in a second choice second class status and helping to maintain a male majority and dominated society (apparently this is occuring in other Asian countries as well, Jill had a thread on this), so be it.

By the way Alexandra, I read an article in a nursing magazine 25 years ago that interviewed the late Dr.Robert Mendohlsohn. He claimed that 4 out of 5 fetuses aborted for being the "wrong" sex here in the United States were female. I wonder what the stats would be now that ultrasound is more precise and women can more easilyt know the gender of their unborn baby if they so desire.

Believe me Alexandra, the leaders of the movement to legalize abortion and the feminists who supported abortion never anticipated this situation. A classic case of..."be very careful what you wish for, you just might get it".

Posted by: Mary at June 4, 2008 12:56 PM


This argument is highly selective since we hear support for laws against FGM, rape, and domestic violence despite ages old customs and no one says these customs and prejudices must first be eliminated.

Well, you bring me anyone who thinks that rape and domestic violence are rights that mankind should have that are merely "abused" in some cultures and thus must be suspended in those cultures, and I will concede the point. As it stands, I believe that certain things must be outlawed because they are always wrong -- rape, domestic violence -- and that certain things are rights that should not be outlawed even if people use them for "wrong" things. I do not think rape, domestic violence, or mutilating a young woman's genitals are rights; I think controlling your body is. I do not think abuse of a right, on a cultural level, is an excuse to suspend that right. I mean, by that reasoning, you could suspend any rights -- speech, religion -- merely because you can convince enough people that the masses are using it to damage themselves rather than help themselves.

If you have no issue with abortion being used as a tool to keep women in a second choice second class status and helping to maintain a male majority and dominated society (apparently this is occuring in other Asian countries as well, Jill had a thread on this), so be it.

I do have an issue with it. Just as I have an issue with the KKK using free speech as a tool to keep non-whites in a second class position for so many years. But just like I don't support banning free speech -- or certain kinds of speech -- to solve the problem of people saying horrific and racist things, I don't support banning abortion to keep people from aborting females.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 4, 2008 1:43 PM


Alexandra,

In those societies men may actually view these as their rights, or the woman will be viewed as being the one at fault.
What I'm saying is that we don't wait for these customs and prejudices to change, we realize laws are what will change things and we support those laws. Yet there are those on this thread who feel that making abortion, especially sex selection abortion, illegal will do nothing to change these patriarchal customs so we shouldn't attempt to. That's what I mean about being selective.
They argue that the customs must first change. I ask why should they when disposing of females is so much easier.

Alexandra the KKK used a lot more than free speech. They also used terror, murder, lynching, political influence, and played on people's prejudice and hatred. The Democrats who founded the KKK as the terrorist arm of their party wanted a lot more than speech and got it.

Alexandra, if you can accept the disposal of females for no other reason than being female, so be it.

Posted by: Mary at June 4, 2008 2:11 PM


Mary,

I think we both agree on most of this discussion. The treatment of women needs to change. The big question is: Will making abortion legal or illegal help?

In my opinion, I don't think the legalization (or illegalization) of abortion will make a huge difference on how women are treated. I think that if abortion is illegal, women and men will still dispose of female infants in another way. Personally, I consider that more inhumane than having an abortion.

However, I'm willing to admit that I don't know if abortion will make a difference in a culture where misogyny is rampant. I have been searching and I cannot find any studies on the matter, though I do believe that women are treated substantially better in European countries (where abortion is legal) as opposed to South American countries (where abortion is illegal). But again, comparatively, there are other measures in place in Europe to ensure more liberties for women, and women have more opportunities there. So I can't say if legalized abortion has had an effect there on how women are treated. Certainly, all countries in the world have violence against women, despite abortion laws.

India is a specific case and I admit I don't know a whole lot about its society. I do know that abortions are restricted there to incidences of rape, health danger to the mother, failure of birth control, and fetal deformity. I'm sure doctors have been using the "fetal deformity" loophole to allow for abortions of female infants. There are already laws in place banning sex-selective abortions (parents are not to be notified of the sex of their child), but I know some doctors have "ways" of informing the parents. I don't know if there's anything we can do about that ... but I don't think making abortion illegal will change the misogyny in the culture. Like I said earlier, they'll just find other ways to kill or dispose of the female child.

Posted by: Edyt at June 4, 2008 3:24 PM


Edyt,
Are you saying that only aborting females is misogyny or not?

Posted by: Carla at June 4, 2008 4:20 PM


Carla,

Aborting females is not an act of misogyny. Aborting females because they are females is an act of misogyny.

Posted by: Edyt at June 4, 2008 4:21 PM


Which do you agree with? Killing girls just to kill through abortion or killing girls through abortion just because their girls?

Posted by: Carla at June 4, 2008 4:50 PM


they're

Posted by: Carla at June 4, 2008 4:51 PM


Agree with? What are you getting at, Carla?

I'm pro-choice, and that means I believe everyone should have the ability to choose for herself what is best for her life and whether she wants to go through the pregnancy.

While I do not personally agree with sex-selective abortion, I will not outright remove a woman's right to have an abortion because of fear that she will abort a female child. I'm more practical than that.

Making abortion illegal will not stop people from discarding and/or outright killing female infants.

Posted by: Edyt at June 4, 2008 4:55 PM


I want to be clear on what you agree with.

Posted by: Carla at June 4, 2008 5:07 PM


Edyt,

We certainly do agree on the issue of human rights for women and the denial of these rights, abuse and oppression of women is the underlying issue that must be addressed.
What we disagree with is the role of abortion in all this.
From my perspective it has been used as a tool to maintain the second choice second class status quo of women, to maintain the male majority patriarchy. It devalues the lives of women. There's also the likelihood of women being pressured into sex selection abortion, by her husband, or by other cultural and economic factors.
To me this is stagnation. If its easy to dispose of women, to keep them a minority and in their "place", then why bother bettering their lives?

Posted by: Mary at June 4, 2008 6:00 PM


From my perspective it has been used as a tool to maintain the second choice second class status quo of women, to maintain the male majority patriarchy. It devalues the lives of women.

Maybe this is where we're stuck. How do you think abortion devalues the lives of women and maintains the status quo?

There's also the likelihood of women being pressured into sex selection abortion, by her husband, or by other cultural and economic factors.

Right. I would agree that if abortion is legal, she should be allowed to make that choice without outside pressures. Unfortunately, I don't think this will ever be the case.

To me this is stagnation. If its easy to dispose of women, to keep them a minority and in their "place", then why bother bettering their lives?

But it's not about numbers. Almost 50 percent of the people in the world are women. The problem is not the number of women, but the number of women in power and with the ability to change the world to reflect on the gender equality that naturally exists. Disposal of women occurs long after birth, so instead of outlawing abortion and hoping those females who are born will change the world we live in, we have to use the women we have today to change it.

Usually, a minority controls the majority, so simply making the majority bigger will not get rid of the minority. There has to be uprising from members of the existing majority to take down the minority. (Not that I'm arguing for taking down men, but my point is about population size)

Posted by: Edyt at June 4, 2008 6:17 PM


Edyt,

If females are being destroyed solely because they are females, that is devaluing the lives of women. They are not quite as valuable as men, they are dispensible, a male child is preferable.
If a group of people can be killed solely because of their race, religion, or ethnicity, then their lives are devalued.

So long as women are viewed in this manner, why should any effort be made to better their lives or raise their status? They're worthless baggage than can be disposed of instead. The status quo of the patriarchal society where the male child is prized is maintained because it is so easy to do so. What incentive is there to change it?

No, making a majority will not get rid of a minority, it will just give the majority more power to maintain the status quo. If the minority are already second class second choice citizens with few rights, then their situation will hardly improve.

Posted by: Mary at June 4, 2008 8:17 PM


Alexandra, if you can accept the disposal of females for no other reason than being female, so be it.

Right, well, I'm done talking with you. It's one thing to disagree but it's entirely another to deliberately ignore what I'm saying -- that we both see the disposal of females for no other reason than being female as a problem, but that we disagree on the solution -- for the purpose of erecting some point of view that's easier for you to oppose. I've no interest in being a part of the latter.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 5, 2008 12:21 AM


Alexandra, 1:43PM

In your last sentence you state in your post(1:43PM) you say you don't support banning free speech to keep people from saying horrific things, and you don't support banning abortion to keep people from aborting females.

So, you are willing to accept the deliberate destruction of females rather than see abortion illegal. I don't know how else to interpret your comment.


Posted by: Mary at June 5, 2008 9:22 AM


So, you are willing to accept the deliberate destruction of females rather than see abortion illegal. I don't know how else to interpret your comment.

Probably something along the lines of, "I am not willing to accept the destruction of females for the sake of being female, nor am I willing to accept the banning of essential human rights to stop the destruction of females for the sake of being female. Thus I will actively seek to address the problem in other ways."

It's really the same line of thinking as when obnoxious pro-choicers accuse pro-lifers of being pro-child abuse because they are "willing" to accept children being born into abusive situations. You'd say, "No, I am not willing to accept child abuse, but I am not willing to accept killing children merely to keep them from being abused either. Abortion is not the answer to child abuse, even though it would prevent some children from being born into abusive situations." It's really not difficult logic to follow.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 5, 2008 11:26 AM


Alexandra,

I certainly agree with addressing the problem of the abuse and second class treatment of women.
My argument is that while females can be easily disposed of, and this is legal and acceptable, efforts will not be made to better the circumstances of women. The ages old customs that relegate women to second choice and not equal in value to men will be maintained. It devalues the lives and worth of women and maintains the patriarchal status quo

Its like someone living in the Jim Crow south saying "yes I support the rights and equality of black people, but I feel the problem of deeply ingrained racism and segregation must first be addressed, and Jim Crow laws maintained in the meantime". How can black people be treated as equals when the laws enable them to be treated as second class citizens?
Maybe this best illustrates my point Alexandra.

Thankfully Dr.King realized laws can be changed if men's hearts cannot.

Posted by: Mary at June 5, 2008 12:41 PM


Well, I don't think that abortion should be maintained "in the meantime" until patriarchal society doesn't need to rely on it anymore. I think it should be a right people have access to in the best of societies, and therefore you will not make a society better by banning it. So I guess that's a glaring difference between keeping Jim Crow laws until society has changed, and the parallel you draw to abortion. Saying, "Jim Crow laws should be maintained in the meantime, until society is ready to get rid of them," is saying that the goal of changing the system is getting rid of the Jim Crow laws. I have no goal to get rid of abortion in India. I have a goal to end the practice of aborting female fetuses because females are considered worthless in India, but I have no goal of ending abortion. On the contrary, I think that even though abortion can be used as a tool to maintain a patriarchal system, it is more devaluing to women to ban it. So it's really not the same thing at all.

Children who are abused tend to be more likely to abuse once they are adults, is that not correct? So children being born into abusive situations helps perpetuate an abusive cycle. Would you support aborting children who would otherwise be born into abusive homes, so that we can more quickly stop the cycle of abuse? Or would you say, "There are better -- though perhaps more nuanced and more difficult -- ways to stop child abuse. Abortion itself is child abuse, even if lack of abortion can allow children to be born into abusive homes."

There are better -- though perhaps more nuanced and more complex -- ways to stop the abortion of females for the sake of being female. Banning abortion is devaluing women, even if abortion can allow for the devaluation of women.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 5, 2008 1:07 PM


Banning abortion is devaluing women, even if abortion can allow for the devaluation of women.

Alexandra, you make great points, especially this one. ^

Mary, like I said earlier, taking a woman's right to abort a child away is forcing her to go through with pregnancy and delivery. It is taking away her bodily autonomy. To me, that is more devaluing to a woman than allowing her to choose to have an abortion.

It carries the message that a woman's body must be used in a certain way, and that other persons have the right to control it.

If women and men are on an equal plane, sex-selective abortion will go away on its own. You're right about laws - but you're a little bit off on what the right laws are.

The kind of laws we need to institute to protect and give women liberties are:

Equal rights laws (to own property, dress, act, speak in public, etc. In other words to be bound by the same laws men are and no more)
Domestic violence laws
Rape laws (including rape shields - no women should have to disclose her past sexual history to convict her rapist)
Reproductive rights laws (in some countries women cannot access contraception without the consent of their husbands)
Equal employment/pay laws
Street harassment laws

And so forth.

And it's not just that the laws need to be in place, but they need to be followed through with. If someone is beating his wife, he needs to be punished. Send out the message that disrespecting women is wrong and will lead to convictions and men will be forced to see women as equal persons under the law.

Yeah, it might take a generation or two for the message to sink in. But it will.

Posted by: Edyt at June 5, 2008 5:20 PM


Alexandra and Edyt

Even the leader of India has expressed concern over the deliberate disposing of females. Would it be a real surprise if he called for banning abortion?

In India and other countries in Asia, abortion is used to dispose of females because females are undesirable.
You can say women's reproductive rights, right to choose, etc. The fact is women are only too willing to continue a pregnancy if its male, not so if its female. What good are rights of any kind if women's lives aren't viewed as having any worth, much less equal worth to men? Does the easy disposal of unwanted females promote the value of women's lives? The leader of India probably wouldn't think so.
Yes if men and women are on an equal plane sex selection abortion will go away on its own. So will FGM, domestic violence, rape, etc. Do you want to wait until men and women are on an equal plane so these will end on their own or do you want to see laws putting an end to these, the sooner the better. I certainly do and like you I want them strongly enforced. I don't want to wait for these crimes against women to fade out on their own.

Edyt, I agree with the rights you promote. My question is why should anyone bother? Women's lives are worthless, they're second choice, women are only too willing to dispose of the unborn daughters they consider worthless, male children are prized and the more the better. Can't you see how this maintains the patriarchal status quo?
Like I pointed out with Jim Crow laws, sure equality for black Americans was an ideal, but so long as laws relegating black Americans to second class status, that said a black life was not as important as a white one, were still in force, it would be an ideal only.

Alexandra, You're correct, I would say the issue of child abuse is considerably complex, it has no simple solutions and cannot be predicted. Children born into the best homes can be abused, children born into the worst not abused. 35 years of legal abortion has failed miserably to solve the problem.
Its like arguing we would solve the problem of wife abuse by killing engaged women.

There are more nuanced and complex ways to stop the abortion of females? Well don't hold your breath waiting for these patriarchal societies that are maintaining their powerful status quo by disposing of undesirable females to look very hard for them.

Posted by: Mary at June 5, 2008 6:07 PM


Even the leader of India has expressed concern over the deliberate disposing of females. Would it be a real surprise if he called for banning abortion?

They're not far from it. Like I said earlier, abortion already has many restrictions in India.

What good are rights of any kind if women's lives aren't viewed as having any worth, much less equal worth to men?

What good does it do to make abortion illegal if those female infants will be disposed of anyway in crueler, more inhumane ways? A woman's "worth" is not bestowed upon her at birth. What makes you think that just because more women are born, that they will be treated better?

(I put worth in quotation marks because while I feel women are inherently of the same worth as men, what I'm referring to here is her worth deemed by her society.)

Does the easy disposal of unwanted females promote the value of women's lives? The leader of India probably wouldn't think so.

No. But neither does state-control of a woman's body. Her body is not public access space, nor should it be government mandated.

o you want to wait until men and women are on an equal plane so these will end on their own or do you want to see laws putting an end to these, the sooner the better.

Like I said, I'm for laws. I just don't believe making abortion illegal will make a difference in the way women are treated the way that equality laws, anti-violence and harassment laws would. Those actions are directly inflicted against a woman against her will. She does not want to be raped, beaten, or silenced. Abortion is not something that is forced against her will. It is her choice. Making her carry a pregnancy she doesn't want is doing something against her will. I see it in the same light as I do domestic violence, because it's exerting control over another person's body.

What is it about banning abortion that makes you think a woman will be seen as more valuable?

My question is why should anyone bother? Women's lives are worthless, they're second choice, women are only too willing to dispose of the unborn daughters they consider worthless, male children are prized and the more the better. Can't you see how this maintains the patriarchal status quo?

Those are all ideas. But we know women are capable of doing just as much as men. They can make strong leaders, hard workers, get advanced degrees in math and science and so forth. Yes, those ideas DO maintain the patriarchal status quo, but every day women are reaching outside the boxes the patriarchy has forced them into and accomplishing more than we ever could have imagined. That's why it's important to support education and job opportunities and college scholarships for women so that they can advance past their constraints. That's why you need laws stopping glass ceilings from existing. And Mary, if people really start looking at what women can accomplish, I can guarantee they will look at women with more respect. The patriarchy is not the be-all-end-all of the world. It can be taken apart one brick at a time. And men and other persons in power are going to fight back. That's a given. Most people, when in fear of losing power, fight back. They're going to attempt to suffocate women by giving them a bad name (similar to how in America a lot of people made "feminist" a bad name). But there will be breakthroughs and achievements and new laws passed that will be better for everyone.

It took over 70 years for women to get the right to vote in America, after the idea was first proposed. Look where we are now. Not only are women voters, they're politicians. We had our first potential female president in the works in the past few months. That's pretty amazing, if you think about it. So yeah, it'll take a long time, but when you really look back at the struggle to climb the ranks men have naturally enjoyed, we've come a long way and earned a lot of freedoms we wouldn't otherwise have. Not all those freedoms were earned simply by legislation. Some of those, like I said earlier, were just by dismantling patriarchy, brick by brick.

You can't focus on the unborn when the born need our attention most. Those are the people we need to be fighting for, and with, and alongside. Fighting for illegal abortion takes women out of the equation, and that's EXACTLY what we should NOT do. We have to focus on making sure the women we have today are getting the best chances at living their lives the way they choose before we start worrying about things that haven't even taken their first breath. You can't put the cart before the horse.

Like I pointed out with Jim Crow laws, sure equality for black Americans was an ideal, but so long as laws relegating black Americans to second class status, that said a black life was not as important as a white one, were still in force, it would be an ideal only.

There STILL is the idea that black lives aren't as important as white ones. Legislation does a lot, sure, but it can't do everything. And that's why, again, we have to work on changing mindsets. Black people are widely discriminated against (as are Latinos and Asians to some degree) because we as a people have failed to eradicate racism within ourselves and have taught it to our children. Until we stamp out that spark, it's going to keep spreading like wildfire, and it's going to burn a lot of people, black and white.

And I'm glad you brought up those laws, because they're a perfect example of how making laws may protect people from certain abuses, but it won't stop a mindset from spreading.

Posted by: Edyt at June 5, 2008 9:32 PM


Edyt,

If the "restrictions" in India were adhered to, females would not be disposed of solely for being female.

So if females are going to be disposed of anyway, let's make it more efficent? How about stricter laws protecting females after birth as well as before? Its not the numbers of women born that guarantees better treatment, its the fact they can be easily disposed of that makes better treatment unlikely.

Edyt, you will get absolutely no argument from me concerning basic human rights for women. Yes changes did come about brick by brick, but laws also had to be passed as well.

We must first concern orurselves with the born? Sex selection abortion guarantees females will never be born to enjoy progress and rights of any kind. The women already born will remain relegated to a second choice second class status.
Why bother changing anything when even women kill their own unborn daughters to maintain the patriarchal status quo.

Yes racism still exists, however would you argue the Civil and Voting Rights Acts should never have been passed? That Jim Crow should never have been dismantled? These laws would not change men's hearts but they would give black people their rights. Believe me Edyt, in my lifetime I have seen vast improvement where racism is concerned. You will never eradicate an evil completely, whatever it is, that is why we have laws.

So we do agree that laws will protect people from certain abuses but won't stop a mindset from spreading. Rape is a tragic example. Laws have changed for the better, but our society remains in the Dark Ages where rape victims are concerned. Do we sit back and wait for this mindset to change, or do we demand stricter laws and punishment? Thankfully for all of us, feminists chose the latter.

Posted by: Mary at June 6, 2008 1:29 PM


Edyt,

You may be too young but I well remember when rape victims were asked by police if they "enjoyed it", what they did to "cause it", and victims' sexual history was brought out in court.
As far as I'm concerned our society is still neanderthal when it comes to the treatment of sexual assault victims, that is why we can be thankful feminists took the bull by the horns and fought for stricter laws and protection for victims. Thanks to their efforts we have rape crisis centers, police officers trained to handle rape cases, counsellors, support groups, and the victim no longer has her sexual history dragged up in court.
Unfortunately this does nothing to stop some neanderthal from ridiculing a rape victim or to change the mindset of certain people. Fortunately we have far better laws and protection for victims. Also, be thankful feminists didn't wait for the mindset to change. They'd still be waiting......

Posted by: Mary at June 6, 2008 3:03 PM


Also, be thankful feminists didn't wait for the mindset to change. They'd still be waiting......

Again, Mary, this relies on the assumption that banning abortion is the goal. Treating assault victims with respect and prosecuting rapists is the goal, which is why the law reflects that. Banning abortion is not my goal so it's ludicrous to accuse me of "waiting" for the mindset to change until abortion bans itself, or something -- which would be the appropriate analogy to rape-shield laws or civil rights.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 6, 2008 9:34 PM


Alexandra,

I didn't accuse you of a thing. My point is that if we wait for mindsets to change, we'll wait a long time. To their credit, feminists did not wait for the mindset on rape to change, they fought to change the laws. Laws are necessary to bring about change. They won't change hearts, but they will be a step in the right direction for ending an injustice. Civil rights laws and rape laws being just a couple examples.
As I pointed out civil rights was a very emotionally charged and divisive issue. People were murdered. There were certainly people not anxious to see any change in the second class status quo for black people. We have to agree that so long as the Jim Crow laws and the mindset that a black life was not as important as a white one were in effect, the situation for black Americans would not improve. Laws had to be changed.
Its been argued here that when the mindset of women as second class and not quite as valuable as men ends, then sex selection abortion of females will end. I argue that so long as women are willing to destroy their unborn daughters, then this mindset has no incentive or reason to change. The patriarchal society and the second class status of women, whose lives are not as valuable as men, remains the status quo.

Posted by: Mary at June 6, 2008 10:11 PM


Mary,

I'm not saying those laws aren't necessary or that we should wait for minds to change. However, I don't think abortion is one of those "essential" laws to prevent women from aborting female children. Like I said, it'll just lead to women committing infanticide rather than feticide. Women are willing to destroy unborn female children because of society, not because abortion exists. In countries where women have more equality, they are not continuing to abort females because they are female.

You haven't answered my question, so I'll ask it again: How does abortion devalue women and maintain the status quo?

I'm looking for specific examples or statistics.

Posted by: Edyt at June 7, 2008 3:34 PM


Edyt,

I gave you examples in India and the other Asian countries where women are viewed as not as desirable as males.
Aborting females because they are females doesn't devalue the lives of women? Aborting females because they are not seen as equal to men doesn't devalue their lives?
Please Edyt, I must be missing something, tell me how sex selection abortion promotes the value and worth of women when mothers will destroy their own unborn daughters because they view their lives as less desirable than a male child?
Do you think this promotes equality and respect for women, or that it only promotes their "worthlessness".

So female feticide is more acceptable than female infanticide? Sorry Edyt, to me they both represent sexism at its most vile.
Also, according to the above article, the drop in proportion of females occured after legalized abortion. It does not seem that female infanticide was quite as rampant as female feticide. Families would not be thrilled to have girls, but they would have to tolerate them.

Yes women will abort a female because of social attitudes, but legal abortion certainly makes it easier and more socially acceptable.

I agree attitudes must change but laws that allow for the destruction of females before or after birth will do nothing to promote this change.
Just as Jim Crow laws did nothing to promote the ideal of equality for black people.

It maintains the status quo by reinforcing the mentality that females(I use this term interchangably with women) are inferior to and less desirable than males.

I'm sorry I can't find that quote from the leader of India when he expressed his concern over sex selection abortion and its blatant discrimination against women.

Posted by: Mary at June 7, 2008 5:27 PM


Mary,

Aborting females because they are females doesn't devalue the lives of women? Aborting females because they are not seen as equal to men doesn't devalue their lives?
Please Edyt, I must be missing something, tell me how sex selection abortion promotes the value and worth of women when mothers will destroy their own unborn daughters because they view their lives as less desirable than a male child?

Ugh, no. They don't.

Sex-selective abortion is a byproduct of sexism.

Without sexism, sex-selective abortion would not exist.

Therefore, abortion is not the cause of sex-selective abortion.

Furthermore, banning abortion will not prevent sexism. It will encourage the idea that women's bodies are not their own to control and do with as they wish. That's what sexism is. And that's what illegal abortion does.

You keep turning the question back on me, and I've answered it. But you cannot prove that abortion does lead to sexism in any way. I'm not talking about sex-selective abortion. I'm talking about abortion. You want to ban abortion to stop sex-selective abortion. Which is like trying to ban people from driving because you don't approve of people not wearing their seat belts.

In other words, it's not focused on the cause of the problem. It's focused on one outcome.

I understand that no matter what laws you put down, some people will not wear their seat belts. Instead, I choose to educate people and spread awareness of the safety features of seat belts and criticize people who fail to use them, as well as teach my family/friends to use them. You would rather eradicate driving altogether, which is not the cause of people wearing their seat belts.

In other words, I would rather create laws and educate and change minds about sexism, than ban abortion simply because sexism (and subsequently sex-selective abortion) exists.

Posted by: Edyt at June 8, 2008 1:40 AM


Edyt,

I view it as more than a byproduct of sexism, I view it as sexism at its most vile.

Without sexism rape and domestic violence wouldn't exist. We don't live in that ideal world unfortunately so we must have laws against these crimes to protect women and to say "yes, women are human beings to be respected and valued".
To the credit of feminists, they went after lenient laws on rape and domestic violence and drastically improved them and the services for victims. Should the feminists have concerned themselves first with educating the public and hoping sexism would fade? Perhaps they realized these lenient laws only promoted sexism and the second class treatment of women.

I never argued that abortion causes sexism, I said abortion is providing a means in these countries to maintain the second class status of women and the patriarchal status quo. I can't think of anything more sexist than a female being destroyed because a male is viewed as more desirable. Women aren't allowed to control their bodies? Edyt, women in these countries aren't considered worthy enough to ever have a body and live a life!

No abortion does not cause sex selection abortion any more than rape causes sexism,(though I would argue that allowing both promotes sexism) but it does provide a means for the selective elimination of females and the maintenance of the status quo that says males are preferable to females. I call that sexism.
Any society that accepts rape and sex selection of females is, in my opinion, viewing women as second class subhumans.
We could argue that legal domestic violence does not force a man to beat his wife anymore than legal abortion forces a woman to have a sex selection abortion. Would anyone support a law allowing domestic violence? Both are a means by which the patriarchy rules and the life and worth of the woman is devalued.

Yes ideally we can educate people. I suppose one could have argued maintaining the Jim Crow laws and not passing any civil rights legislation until one was better educated on racism and the Jim Crow laws would fade on their own.
In my opinion only when these laws were eliminated would the message get across that racism was an evil and that black people had rights.

Posted by: Mary at June 8, 2008 8:10 AM