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28.8.06

Fewer Women Means More Feminism?

A new paper about the dangers of sex selection leading to too many horny straight men running around contains this bizarre attempt at finding a feminist silver lining:

But as the number of women in a society drops, so their social status should rise and they should benefit from their increased value. This will lead to more balanced sex ratios as more couples choose to have girls.


I don't know much about Chinese culture (the main case study for the paper), but if the Chinese patriarchy is anything like the American one, this conclusion seems unwarranted. A surplus of straight men could certainly lead to an increase in women's value -- but that's value in the way gold is valuable, not value in the way that human beings are valuable. It strikes me as very unlikely that the scarcity of women would mean that women are treated as more fully human, with their desires listened to and respected. Rather, men will put extra effort into controlling the vagina supply. Lesbians and women who are slow to choose a husband will face increased pressure -- after all, do they want to be responsible for turning their erstwhile suitors into terrorists? Resentful myths about women's taste in mates will grow among men who feel deprived of their entitlement to sex. The fear that one's wife or girlfriend has plenty of other options (at least mate-wise) will lead not to men treating their women well, but to increased attempts to control them. The increased value of a girl to her parents -- as a bargaining chip or a way of increasing the family's status -- may well correct the gender balance. But that's unlikely to translate into benefit for the girl herself.

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