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wundayatta's avatar

How will the growing gender imbalance affect women in the future?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) June 21st, 2011

In this article, the gender imbalance is described and discussed. Due to one child per family policies in China, India and other nations, people who can afford sonograms are increasingly aborting female children so they can try for boys.

In China, this has to do with the social security system. Male children are the social security system. In other societies there are other reasons.

My question asks you to speculate how this will affect women in the future. Already, there are increasing numbers of bride kidnappings. There are increasing numbers of bachelor males, who tend to be a lot more violent than married males.

What do you think will happen?

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30 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

Ever read The Handmaid’s Tale? Maybe something like that.

syzygy2600's avatar

Lol, bachelor males being more violent. As if we’re animals or something. Nice generalization there.

I don’t know about in the third world, but the first world will eventually be run by queen bees. Nikola Tesla believed this, and I agree with him. Society won’t be any better, we’ll still have all the problems we used to have, it will just be rich elitist women running the show rather than rich, elitist, mostly men like it is now.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m currently rereading The White Plague by Frank Herbert. Supremely scary tale of extreme gender imbalance.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir in what way? Can you give some examples?

@syzygy2600 I was just paraphrasing the original article. I’m assuming there is plenty of data on the violence of bachelors compared to married men. Would you agree that young men are more likely to be violent? Would you agree that bachelors are more likely to be young men? Makes sense to me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta If people see this kind of sex-based aborting as acceptable, they will see other forms of subjugation of women as acceptable.

seekingwolf's avatar

It’s interesting because we have 2 different things going on:

1) China and India suffer with growing gender imbalance, yes. I totally agree with what has been said. It’s very sad to see people abort based on the sex of their baby and nothing else. I see this as a major problem, and yes, I do think it’s going to cement gender imbalances and make things worse.

2) However, in America, we are making great strides. I myself have not experienced much gender “inequality” in my life. I am friends with both females and males and I feel like I can do anything that a man can do and haven’t been subjected to sexism from the people that I love, barring my grandma and other “older” people, lol.

What does this mean for the world overall? I have no clue.

wundayatta's avatar

I am wondering about what happens when there are so many men who don’t have a partner. Will people start having girls again? Won’t girls become more valuable because they are in short supply? I would think women would gain more power. There might be more polyandry. I don’t know.

WasCy's avatar

We often tend to see things happening “now” as if “now” will last forever, or “current trends” will be carried to an absurd degree and we’ll all walk off a cliff together.

“Now” never lasts. Change happens. Societies change and the world changes. Chinese women no longer suffer foot binding, which was what every good Chinese mother wanted for her daughter to be respectable. The USA doesn’t rule the world, as it might have appeared to through much of the 1950s and 60s. The Japanese don’t run the business world, as everyone assumed as inevitable during the 1980s when the trend certainly appeared that way.

I predict that change will occur again and Chinese (and even Indian) societies will change to more egalitarian societies, with democracy (tailored to their own populations, and not necessarily an American, British or European style) and increasing equality between the sexes and between currently underprivileged members of the society. The Chinese and the Indians are no stupider (and no smarter) than those of us in the West who have embraced these ideals, and they’ll eventually get on a parallel road.

Before too much longer, I expect girls and women in China and India (and most of the rest of the world, including the Middle East) to be equally valuable as we consider them to be in the West. (Women may be rolling their eyes and thinking, “is that the best we can expect?”, but women are still making progress in the West, too. No one has hit a point of a “perfect society”; we’re all evolving.)

It just takes time, and some back-and-forth movement. Not all of human history is “onward and upward”; we take steps in reverse sometimes, too.

JilltheTooth's avatar

The problem I see with that, @wundayatta , is that women may have less power as they will be a valuable commodity, something to be traded or hoarded perhaps. A frightening concept.

missafantastico's avatar

Or alternatively there will be more Indian and Chinese gay male power couples that will grow to prominance…

athenasgriffin's avatar

Actually it’s been proven that married males have lower levels of testosterone on average.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I haven’t had enough coffee yet to fully ponder the implications, but my sense is that it probably wouldn’t mean anything positive for the women of the world. We tend to get overpowered and treated like objects, so I can only imagine…. not to mention all the fighting and wars and crap that will break out if females become really scarce.

Anyway, biology may already be at work on the other side of the fence. I read a very long article a few years ago about the decline of the human male as a group, due to genetic/chromosomal deterioration. So, possibly, it might even itself out naturally.

JLeslie's avatar

I figure the men in power, and I do think it will contunue to be men in power primarily, I don’t think women will be more powerful because of some sort of scarcity demand thing, the men in power in these countries will develop an incentive to have girl babies, and then in 18 years time a lot of 40 year old men will be marrying 18 year old women. When the pendulum swings, it tends to swing back the other way before it rests in the middle. It is another example of how fooling to much with nature and balance, means there will continue to be a disruption in the balance.

Jaxk's avatar

The law of unexpected consequences. It does show that even seemingly rational rules or laws can have broad implications. We want to lower the birth rate but unfortunately we seem to have lowered it for only one sex. Who woulda guessed?

_zen_'s avatar

There’s always the genderless.

tinyfaery's avatar

Polyandry is one possibility.

I’m not all that worried. Nature always finds a way.

YARNLADY's avatar

Wars and lower drinking ages help, plus parents or women can start auctioning off their marriage rights.

Jeruba's avatar

@Jaxk, but reducing the relative number of women will most likely lower the birth rate, don’t you think? There’s theoretically no limit to the number of children a man can father, but there is a limit to the number of children a woman can bear.

mattbrowne's avatar

@athenasgriffin – The major factor for testosterone levels is age.

Jaxk's avatar

@Jeruba

Agreed, but is that good or bad. If the female population continues to decline are we in danger of losing control?

Jeruba's avatar

@Jaxk, which “we” are you referring to?

WasCy's avatar

Losing control of women? That ship has sailed, @Jaxk.

Plucky's avatar

@Jaxk Losing control of what?

Jaxk's avatar

@WasCy

Good one. I couldn’t argue with that if I wanted to.

Jaxk's avatar

@Jeruba and @PluckyDog

Most people are concerned with overpopulation. Understandable. But there is a real danger in a shrinking population as well. We already have problems with entitlements for the elderly and medical care. The only way they have survived this long is through population growth. By reducing the ratio of women we (I use it generically to mean all of us) could bring about a shrinking population that we may not easily reverse. Maybe that’s good and maybe that’s bad. But when you begin to monkey around with the natural order of things, the outcome is unpredictable.

Jeruba's avatar

@Jaxk, I see your point. But the natural order of things also includes unrestricted childbirth as well as those great population controls known as war, famine, plague, and pestilence. Monkeying around with things means that if we can prevent overpopulation through birth control, we can also avoid a lot of suffering when nature takes its less gentle course to reduce the stress on resources.

I am still wondering which “all of us” you mean: women, Americans, first world countries, all of humanity? I am not sure we can assume that all of humanity has entitlements for the elderly and for those who need medical care, so you seem to be referring to some subset.

Jaxk's avatar

@Jeruba

I merely used entitlements as an easy example. Most societies have a have the young care for the old. The next generation takes over the hunting/fishing/farming etc. We are all living longer but we’re still aging at the same rate. You live longer but you’re not necessarily young longer, your old longer. That’s not strictly true generally true. If the younger generation is growing smaller and the older generation is larger we create an imbalance. Especially if the holds true for several generations. So the answer is all of humanity.

One last point. think of a society with few women where political power and influence dictate who can and cannot marry and and have children. What would it be like to have a society where only politicians could reproduce. It scares me to think of it :)

GracieT's avatar

To add on to @mattbrowne‘s point I’ve read (I can’t cite where, though) that along with kidnapping Chinese women that there is a large market in prostitutes from Thailand kidnapped and sold as “wives”. I’m not saying anything about the woman being prostitutes, but kidnapping them is barbaric and is helping spread diseases and who knows what else.

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