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Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over…
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Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men (original: 2011; edição: 2011)

de Mara Hvistendahl

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2557106,002 (3.71)15
"Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. These numbers don't seem terribly grim, but in ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge. By the time those children reach adulthood, their generation will have twenty-four million more men than women. The prognosis for China's neighbors is no less bleak: Asia now has 163 million females "missing" from its population. Gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations. The world, therefore, is becoming increasingly male, and this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval. Historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. Mara Hvistendahl has written a stunning, impeccably-researched book that does not flinch from examining not only the consequences of the misbegotten policies of sex selection but Western complicity with them"--… (mais)
Membro:pdubya62
Título:Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men
Autores:Mara Hvistendahl
Informação:PublicAffairs, Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men de Mara Hvistendahl (2011)

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This book was quite interesting to read, but I just didn't agree with many of Hvistendahl's conclusions. There's too much for me to include here, so I'll just touch on two:

The author's stance on abortion is strange: she believes sex-selective abortion is wrong (because that would be discrimination against the possibility of one sex - namely, the female sex), but she doesn't have a problem with abortion itself. If one doesn't believe a fetus is a baby with a right to life, then this discrimination argument just doesn't hold up. She mentions over and over that this is what pro-choice activists are having a hard time with in their fight against sex-selective abortion - they don't want to "humanize" the unborn.

Also, she seems to hold a very negative view of Christians and the belief in a Creator of the world. On p. 102, she talks about the "West's predominant creation myth" and on p. xiv, she mentions that a natural balance of the sex's populations was deemed by Johann Peter Sussmilch, a German statistician, to be the work of a Creator, but when Charles Darwin looked into the matter, he "intuited" that it "connected somehow to evolution." And apparently Darwin's gut feeling is enough for her on that matter. She didn't need to get into the Creation debate at all, yet she does... and proves nothing. ( )
  RachelRachelRachel | Nov 21, 2023 |
While this book is worth reading, it has some fundamental weaknesses that make it dificult to take as definitive. The underlying theory is that sex selection has appeared in culturally disparate areas, increased at a similar rate, and all in a relatively short time frame. This cannot be explained solely by cultural factors. The link is Western techology and family planning programs. Hvistendahl lays responsibility on technology itself, rather than viewing it as an instrument through which underlying values are directed and amplified. She could have made a better, more complex argument about the ways in which technology permits us to turn weak values into stronger ones.

This flaw explains Hvistendahl's own conflicted attitude towards abortion: she is heavily critical of how it is used in this process, but shies away from criticizing it as a technology. Her broadside in the introduction against Americans who don't want to bring domestic politics into the argument is misplaced: It's hugely relevant given the global gag rule and our current role in international family planning.

Her argument about male control being contradicted by the heavy role of women in enforcing sex selection is shallowly constructed. The role of women in upholding patriarchal norms is one that's well explored in feminist analysis.

One of the central theses of the book is Western culpability in sex selection, through governmental/NGO action and through the actions of corporations that seek to promote their products. The analysis feels inadequate. She acknowledges the vast efforts by Mao and Indira Gandhi to control population growth, committing vast human rights abuses in the process, but comes across as sounding like they were puppets of Western influence.

Her suggestions that sex selection be controlled through technological means are incompletely formed. She is correct that it's the lazy option to simply throw up one's hands and say, "we can't stop it," but it's also a reality that must be reckoned with. As she acknowledges, technological advancements will make this even harder to achieve. (If sex can be determined by a simple blood test in the first trimester, abortion becomes even easier.) She recognizes the importance of healthcare professionals in working to stop these practices, but conceives of it in a top down manner rather than as a part of greater social change. She acknowledges that women evade bans in India and China, but blames it on poor enforcement. In one survey in Albania, women admitted they were aborting for sex reasons, but she does not consider that bans could simply make women lie.

She is correct, however, that current campaigns that simply focus on cultural values are ineffective in themselves.

A personal anecdote: When I had my first child in an NHS hospital in 2007, the hospital would not tell you the sex. The official reason was that they could not be sure. The constant rumor was that this was a practice of hospitals in heavily Asian areas to prevent sex selection (either a racist rumor, or racist practice). In any case, if I had wanted to know, there were any number of private clinics offering me a private gender scan. I could then have had an abortion without anyone knowing why. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
Although my grandmother has reminded me for years of her desire for male descendants, I was unaware that this particular inclination was reflected across a number of other cultures, including non-Asian societies. An article from the New York Times pointed out the imbalance in sex ratio found in many countries, and this book was referenced. This is definitely an interesting read; students of socioeconomics, gender, demographics, and sociology will find issues and arguments pertinent to their fields. As a woman of child-bearing age in a Western society, this gave me much to think about regarding children and future generations. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
Fascinating, detailed, portrait of the societal impact of the vast preference for mail children now that testing is available. A but too much history in India and China for my taste but quite impressed by the thoroughness of the author in determining exactly how and why the imbalance has occurred. Having hugely male populations is definitely Not a good thing. ( )
  abycats | May 11, 2018 |
This is a good, important book. I docked a point because I do think the author left the chauvinism of the cultures in Asia where this is the biggest problem off the hook too much. No solutions are presented. How do we keep our reproductive rights and prevent the problems of gender imbalance?

In all fairness, that is probably beyond the author's scope. I think there are too many of us (I also reject the author's implication that we in the west were wrong to worry about that. We are at 7 billion and rising) and I want women to have reproductive rights.

Still, despite my disagreements with the book, I don't see this issue getting enough attention, especially from those (basically) on the same "side of the aisle" as me. I applaud that and do recommend the book. ( )
  Caitlin70433 | Jun 6, 2016 |
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"Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. These numbers don't seem terribly grim, but in ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge. By the time those children reach adulthood, their generation will have twenty-four million more men than women. The prognosis for China's neighbors is no less bleak: Asia now has 163 million females "missing" from its population. Gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations. The world, therefore, is becoming increasingly male, and this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval. Historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. Mara Hvistendahl has written a stunning, impeccably-researched book that does not flinch from examining not only the consequences of the misbegotten policies of sex selection but Western complicity with them"--

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