Motes and Beams

A couple months ago I came across a story somewhere about sex selective abortions in China.  The image of unwanted girls circled my thoughts.  I felt like I began to see it referenced in most of the media and literature I was reading.  Every Chinese movie I watched whether a drama or romance seemed to discuss this preference for boys over girls.  My heart filled with indignation for these women who were denied the full recognition of their greatness.  I was enraged that woman would destroy the opportunity for another girl to be brought into this earth—that women were often the perpetrators of their own demise.  I still scream as I think about this major wrong that is done to the female spirit by this practice and belief.

I started looking through the information available in the WomanStats database about female infanticide in China.  The statistics are staggering.   “An official study in Hainan Province, [in China] discovered that 68 percent of abortions were of female fetuses” (Country Report: China, 2007, p. 75, 206). This horrific woman on woman violence has been around for Centuries in China and despite the countries best efforts to encourage families to have daughters, the results remain the same.   I would say this cannot be entirely attributed to the One-Child Policy enacted in 1979, but sex-selective abortions and son over daughter preference began long before that.  The main problem can be traced back to the cultural belief that male is better than female.

These traditions are not always continued in the most blatant manner.  It can simply be by discussing the burden of a girl over a boy because of the increased manual labor a boy can offer over a girl.   In Chinese families, spending more time and money on the son’s education and health over the daughters teaches the her that she is as good.  The belief is engrained in the society.

But the more I thought about it the more I realized that this male better than female mindset is not unique to China and does not exclude my own “Mormon” American up bringing.  The way to begin to change is to begin with ourselves.

Do we as women perpetuate that we personally are less than men or perhaps that other women are unequal?  As men do we assert that our lives and opinions are above that of a woman?  First we need to identify where the subtle differences are indicated.

In my family I am the only daughter among six sons.  People used to say my family was very blessed because of the many sons they were given.  I was never directly told I was the weaker sex, but looking back I can see how it was unintentionally implied. I remember being encouraged that I could do anything my brother’s did if I worked hard.  I felt this was great encouragement….and it was.  However, it indicated that I, as a girl, would need to work harder to do all my brother’s did as boys.  Somehow with my inferior genetic female make-up I couldn’t accomplish all my brother’s did naturally as boys.  The common phrase “You play ball with a girl!” Or “Stop acting like a girl!”  It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I was able to ask, “Hey, what’s wrong with being a girl?!”  Nothing is wrong.  The culture is wrong.

How do we create the change within ourselves and others?  We look for these subtle comments that are a symptom of a flawed belief system.  Then we are able to recognize exactly what we are fighting against.  Is that a naive or to simple answer?  Possibly, but we must start somewhere.  We can not allow it to continue, especially when inflicted by our own gender.  We must fight to empower ourselves both as men and women to realize the truth that all people are created equal not just men.

—by CK


2 thoughts on “Motes and Beams

  1. GoodReason says:

    Socialization can be so insidious because it rarely gets the kind of notice you have given it here. Thanks for sharing this. So how will you “not allow it to continue”?

  2. JSS says:

    Other places I have seen this cultural preference are references to education and marriage. For example, having daughters is a future financial burden because of the courtship and wedding hoopla associated with daughters – we all assume that having a son means the parents will spend less money when that son gets married because the brides family takes on more of that burden. What is that phrase: “Why spend money on someone else’s wife?” As if a woman that a man dates is only worth spending money on if he gets some advantage from it, not because she is worth the time and effort to get to know just because of who she is? I rarely hear women use comparative phrases about their dating partners. Then again, western culture is predisposed to place the financial burden of courtship on the males, even in these modern times. Helpful? Hurtful? The practice could be debated from many sides.

    With education it can be the opposite – send the daughter off to college to get married and become someone else’s financial burden, but the son would be expected to complete their education, so perhaps that is more of a parental financial burden.

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