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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Feminist Dilemma

The Althouse blog has been jumping with a thread topic on arranged marriages.

In the thread, I mentioned in passing that I thought that arranged marriages and feminism were not compatible.

So far, I have not read one example which would convince me that a true feminist, and not just a convenient one (who remembers her precepts of equality when it suits her to) would consider arranged marriages as anything but antithetical to her convictions.

Put it this way:

The arguments in favour of abortion are very hotly defended by feminists, who proclaim that a woman has the absolute right to choose, since it involves her bodily and intellectual freedom of choice.

When people try to argue otherwise, feminists specifically, have a very negative reaction to taking away a woman's right to choose.

Can anyone honestly tell me a person who thinks this way, would find arranged marriages, a system which cedes her freedom of choice in partnership, her very FUTURE, any the less intolerable?

I don't think so.

Let me build on this argument, and perhaps, throw a followup situation, into argumentative disrarray.

Recently, there was a segment on NPR regarding abortions in India, which are indeed legal.

Not only are they legal, but Indian women of high caste, and of low caste, often have not one, but several abortions, thereby risking their health, sometimes their very lives.

And do you know what is the most common reason they have abortions?

To abort females.

Only female foeti, mind.

Obviously, in a society where arranged marriages can make or break a family's fortune, since it is the woman's family who provides the husband or his family with a dowry, having too many female children is a hardship.

In fact, having ANY female children, is a hardship to many families.

They wish to have male children, not only because of societal positives attached to men (greater earning power, greater freedoms, greater success), but to be on the receiving end of dowries, not on the giving end.

So, my question to committed feminists, or to anyone who would like to argue the point is:

What is the feminist position when an abortion targets only females?

This can hardly be a desirable state-of-affairs, for women.

So, is it still seen as a woman's absolute right to choose, even if she doesn't choose to give birth to a gender she herself shares?

And are there any qualms feminists have, in encouraging to what amounts to population extermination given the probable dwindling of their own sex?

I wonder if then, when a nation has such a preternatural insistence on male children, who by definition, would make up a more patriachal society with all its attendant inequities for women (according to feminists)...

...would abortion be defendable by feminists?

The NPR story had some very interesting details to it, which I encourage you to read.

This female infanticide situation is complex.

Amongst other things, the NPR interview referred to one male Indian who has established a hotline whereby anonymous callers "tip" him about women they know are considering or have decided to abort a female foetus.

He then contacts them, and tries to desperately convince not to do so.

His goal: to save the unborn females.

In essence, without there being any kind of religious angle, it goes without saying, he is no different from a Christian abortion clinic protester or opponent, whose message is not seen as welcome, specifically by many feminists.

(Here I must state, to avoid any confusion, you do not have to be a feminist to believe in abortions. It is evident, but I am trying to preempt any followup replies which misunderstand this point. My emphasis on feminism is built up from the Althouse thread)

The crux of the matter here is, both sets of people wish to somehow convince a woman not to undergo an abortion, for whatever reason.

In the West, women tend towards abortion usually because of monetary or health reasons.

In India, it could be because of monetary reasons, but more specifically, it usually is because the woman does not wish to bring a fellow female into this world.

A fellow female who, furthermore, could quite independent of her upbringing, become a feminist one day.

I wonder if feminists considered that angle, too.

This topic is endlessly fascinating, you'll agree, because of the moral dilemmas inherent in it.

UPDATE: I have found the NPR link, with accompanying All Things Considered audio, which I hope you will listen to.

This is the blurb, which accompanies the story:

India Confronts Gender-Selective Abortion by Amanda Cunningham
All Things Considered,
March 21, 2006


The medical journal The Lancet, reports that there have been 10 million "missing female births" in India in the past 20 years. By "missing," that means females who were aborted. Activists are trying to stop the practice, which is as prevalent in wealthy areas as it is in poor areas.


10 million in a population which is 1 billion strong may not seem like much, but is a staggering amount of targeted extermination.

To put this sum of female abortions into perspective:

Norway is 4 million people strong.

Two Norways PLUS have been wiped out in the past 20 years in India.

That is, if two Norways plus, were only inhabited by women.

11 Comments:

  • The gender imbalance in China is even more staggering.

    A lengthy, bloody, ground war between India and China would be the traditional solution for this imbalance.

    As they share a lengthy border, only recently settled a dispute regarding their borders simmering since 1962 (plus some in India think Tibet belongs in their sphere of influence, and not China's), the possibility of conflict sometime in the next decade or two does exist (both countries have very pragmatic leadership lately, but that can change)

    By Blogger XWL, at Sun Mar 26, 06:05:00 am GMT-5  

  • xwl: Which, to site The Princess Bride, would be one of the Great Errors: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia!"

    Victoria! This is totally OT, but I liked your Brat Pack list on Althouse!

    (would the German be BratPacklishkeit? would work about the films be BratPacklishwissenschaft? would a series of Brat Pack operas be labeled Das Ringwald? I see duckie as Wotan, myself)

    And why has John Hughes been thrown over the railing like so much flotsam? Simply terrible!

    Sorry for the ventage, but it felt more appropriate at Sundries than Ann's! Please return to the main line of discourse.

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Mar 26, 10:03:00 am GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sun Mar 26, 01:37:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sun Mar 26, 02:22:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The gender imbalance in China is even more staggering.

    Yes. :(

    I concentrated on India, however, since it is closer culturally to the West, and since they are a democracy, unlike that weird hybrid, China.

    India's cultural devaluation of women, for whatever reason, is that more shocking, than that of a State-demanded birth control.

    (Although, it is true that India did have a push towards lowering birth rates, IIRC, under Mrs. Gandhi)

    A lengthy, bloody, ground war between India and China would be the traditional solution for this imbalance.

    That's often what I think of, when I hear of avian flus, and what-not in that part of the world.

    Alas.

    As they share a lengthy border, only recently settled a dispute regarding their borders simmering since 1962 (plus some in India think Tibet belongs in their sphere of influence, and not China's), the possibility of conflict sometime in the next decade or two does exist (both countries have very pragmatic leadership lately, but that can change)

    India is well on its way to real progress, and democracy, thanks to successive generations of elections, and what-not.

    I'll believe it when I see it, in China.

    Thanks for the great links, as usual, XWL!

    And thanks for waiting for a reply. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Mar 28, 05:10:00 am GMT-5  

  • xwl: Which, to site The Princess Bride, would be one of the Great Errors: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia!"

    Like Afghanistan? ;)

    (Remember that pic seen in the newspapers, of horse-riding Army personnel, in the first days after the invasion?)

    Victoria! This is totally OT, but I liked your Brat Pack list on Althouse!

    Thanks, Ron! I'm glad you liked it.

    (would the German be BratPacklishkeit? would work about the films be BratPacklishwissenschaft?

    *lololol*

    would a series of Brat Pack operas be labeled Das Ringwald? I see duckie as Wotan, myself)

    DAS RINGWALD! Genius, Ron. :)

    And why has John Hughes been thrown over the railing like so much flotsam? Simply terrible!

    I recently saw the film, "Not another Teen Movie", which was a spoof of all the 80s teen flicks made.

    The movie took place at John Hughes High School -- home of The W.A.S.Ps. :)

    Sorry for the ventage, but it felt more appropriate at Sundries than Ann's! Please return to the main line of discourse.

    No, no. I'm delighted you brought this up here.

    Do you care to add anything to my Top 5 list...such as Next 5? ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Mar 28, 05:13:00 am GMT-5  

  • Paul, I know you meant to do well, but nothing is more disheartening than to see your deletions of your posts.

    Stick to your guns, man. Right or wrong.

    Faint heart never won fair lady.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Mar 28, 05:14:00 am GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Paul, at Tue Mar 28, 08:01:00 am GMT-5  

  • ...Right or wrong.

    There's the rub. Which is which?

    Faint heart never won fair lady.

    Oh Boy!!!

    There lies not within a faint heart but an over-caring one. Harm of no kind should ever pass through me to you especially or to any other.

    I thought true heart was pretty good :)

    (Also, oops! I had to rephrase something.)

    By Blogger Paul, at Tue Mar 28, 08:06:00 am GMT-5  

  • Victoria's Top 5 Bratpackish Films

    1- Breakfast Club
    2- Ferris Buehler
    3- Pretty in Pink
    4- Sixteen Candles
    5- St. Elmo's Fire

    lets see...next five would be a stretch, but...

    6. Weird Science
    7. Class
    8. Betsy's Wedding
    9. Fresh Horses (Ringwald & Andrew McCarthy)
    10.Oxford Blues (Lowe & Sheedy)

    ah, but which one are you?

    http://www.electricartists.com/hsr/quiz.html

    By Blogger Ron, at Tue Mar 28, 09:05:00 am GMT-5  

  • It is deeply ironic that 'leading' feminist organizations (in the US, anyway, I don't know about elsewhere)such as NOW make their absolute priority to be the protection of permissive abortion laws. As a result, they will not argue for ANY laws that would restrict abortion.

    On the question the Lancet study raises, NOW maintains absolute silence even though women are halfway to extinction (should we call it gendercide?) in some parts of Asia, in that there are only 500-600 females births per 1000 male births.

    By Blogger Harry, at Sat Jun 24, 03:40:00 am GMT-4  

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