Missing Women:

Formerly: Frauenmangel and Sewing Needles

The Economist (European edition) reported earlier this past summer on a new disease in eastern Germany, Frauenmangel, the lack of women, or as the article puts it, “We ain’t got Dames.”  (Hollywood musicals have so much to answer for.) 

In some towns there are only 75 young women for every 100 young men. In one or two there are as few as 40. The effects are worrying, not only because populations may shrink but also because of the existence of a growing underclass of young men who are partnerless, underqualified and jobless.

The cause in eastern Germany is that girls work harder in school and end up as young women with good qualifications who move west. Further, “The few women who stay prefer single parenthood to hitching themselves to useless partners.” 

Today’s Independent reminds us that the disease has been in China for some time, though the causes are very different.  The shocking title of the article, “China’s one-child policy: doctors discover 23 sewing needles in womans head,” reports on a woman whose grandparents, it is conjectured, tried to kill her as a child by pushing sewing needles into her brain.

Though China has a general policy that restricts parents to having one child, in the country parents are allowed to have a second child, if the first is a  daughter.  The needle victim was an unfortunate second daughter, who left her parents’ no chance for a son, unless she died.

Girls are sometimes referred to as “maggots in the rice,” while

… having a son is the closest thing to a pension plan most rural Chinese will have: sons are supposedly better able to provide for the family and support their elderly parents. Because of the prejudice against girls, the increasingly mobile nature of Chinese society and the pressures of the one-child policy, many women do not report their pregnancies and if the child is a girl, they kill the baby.

China now have the most unbalanced gender ratio in the world, with men out numbering women by 37 million.

The Independent’s article is very sad and upsetting.  Though the government is cracking down on there, there still are “dying  rooms” in orphanages, where, apparently, girl babies are placed to die.

Thank you to the Chinese blogger, China Doll, for the link between the two stories.   Jender had an earlier blog about the rejection of female fetuses and infants here.

4 thoughts on “Missing Women:

  1. Horrible stuff about China. I guess female infanticide is just one of those many ways that women are more valued than men all over the world (as Baumeister said).

  2. Nice point, Jender. Similarly, the way the German girls strive in school and leave for the West as young women, while the men lay about, just shows how competition for wives leaves (many) men driven to succeed, as Baumeister’s main thesis has it.

  3. Notice that in the story on Germany, it is assumed that women are a civilizing influence. It’s almost as if this is a further burden on women: Produce the children, earn a living, AND keep men from constituting a listless “underclass”. What does it say about men that the absence of a woman in their lives seems to mean that they end up “underqualified and jobless”? What does it say about a culture that is unable to motivate men if it is not appealing to their sexual appetites? Will men work ONLY in order to compete for women? Surely not. For one thing, presumably it’s not gay men’s motive. Heterosexual men need to be supported/helped/encouraged to make lives for themselves and think about making their own unique contributions to the wellbeing of their community–even if they are not propped up by a woman.

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