Ihad a revealing conversation with my sister-in-law Bee and her daughters the other day that got me to thinking about life, and the ignorant and selfish ways people behave at times. One of Bee's daughters, Emmy, is pregnant with her second child - her firstborn is a son who is now two and a half years old. We were discussing her pregnancy, and one of the girls said that my mother-in-law (and Bee's mother) told her pregnant grand-daughter that she should name the new baby after my husband. The girls all giggled a bit and when I asked what was so funny, I learned that Emmy is expecting a girl - a fact that they are concealing from my MIL because she doesn't seem to care about girl babies.
Bee then proceeded to talk about when she gave birth to her first three children more than 20 years ago - all girls - and how her mother did not help out and rarely came to see her after each of the girls were born. But when Bee finally gave birth to her fourth child - a boy - her mother immediately packed her bags and moved in with Bee and her family for a period of time to graciously help out. The girls don't necessarily feel that their grandmother doesn't love them, just that she seems to favor male offspring over female. Emmy even said that once she gave birth to her son, she felt that her grandmother really changed in her feelings and respect towards her, elevating Emmy quite a few notches in status.
Bee and her daughters seem to think that many other women of grandma's generation think this way. I have heard of women here being divorced, tossed aside or looked down upon because they only produced female offspring. It's an idiotic way of thinking because basically, without getting into an involved debate about genetics, science has proven that the sex of a child is almost always solely determined by the male sperm. And not only that, it is yet again, another example of how women are faulted for everything and anything wrong with many societies, irregardless of facts to the contrary. I admit I was a little surprised to hear all of this since I mistakenly believed that this type of thinking was a thing of the past. I don't recall ever hearing something like this in my own culture. In fact, I remember hearing most often that the parents didn't care what sex the child was, as long as the baby was healthy.
So I was wondering about this cultural phenomenon here and if it exists in other places around the world, especially among older women like my Saudi MIL. I've read that boy babies are preferred in many Asian countries and other places, and that throughout the ages, female infanticide was common - which I don't understand because without girls, there will be no more babies born at all, period. In China alone, its "one child per mother policy" has had disastrous results for baby girls, who have been aborted or abandoned by the hundreds of thousands every year since its inception in 1979. It is estimated that by the year 2020, about 30-40 million young Chinese men will have no women to marry and mate with. What does this mean? It means that already young women in China are being kidnapped and sold as a child-bearing commodity to the highest bidder. This is nothing short of sexual slavery. It is harmful to society and upsetting to nature's delicate balance to deny girls their rightful place in the cycle of life.
Yes, I know that all men, deep down, want a son - some kind of macho thing, I'm sure. Boys can carry on the family name, and there's still those old-fashioned notions about boys that they can take over the family business and can support the family, etc., when in today's world, girls have proven just as capable of doing these things as boys - as long as they are given the opportunities. I also know that there are many mothers and fathers out there who cherish and adore their daughters. But I'm wondering if there is an obvious preference for boy babies in your country or culture?
For more information, please read another blogpost on this same topic on My Reflections and Musings by Jenn.