Monday, April 12, 2010

Thirty Million Bachelors

I recently came across the statistic that, when China's one-child-per-family generation comes of age, there will be thirty million more males than females of marriageable age. Thirty million guys for whose sakes roughly fifteen million of their older sisters were sacrificed in utero or at birth. Thirty million sons, repositories of their parents' fondest hopes, now unable to find a mate.

O.k., not all those guys will be looking for a woman. Say that five million are gay and out of the Chinese closet, that still leaves twenty-five million frustrated heterosexual males.

My first reaction when I saw the statistic was "serves them right!" Serves them right for being so male-centered. Serves them right for all those gender-based abortions and female infanticides. (NB: I believe in reproductive freedom but agree with Bill Clinton that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.) Serves them right for all those baby girls languishing in orphanages.

Who is going to pay the price for this outrageous manipulation of Nature? Not the men and women who did the aborting and the abandoning, but the precious boys for whom such sacrifices were made. Thirty million of them--o.k., twenty-five million--will fail to bring home dutiful daughters-in-law and beget grandsons to gladden their parents' old age. And what are they going to do with themselves?

Will they raid other countries in search of women, as primitive tribes used to do?

Will they worship women because of their scarcity, and grant them equal, or even superior, rights?

Will they vie for women's favors by making themselves beautiful, or will they joust and duel and clobber each other until the gender balance is reestablished?

Will they vent their testosterone overloads on fast cars and motorcycles and cigarette boats, thereby increasing planetary pollution levels to all-time highs?

Will they seclude themselves in dark basements and spend their lives playing video games?

Will they form male harems serving a single woman?

Will they turn to each other for solace?

Will they declare prostitution a sacred profession?

If they manage to beget a child, will they insist on aborting the fetus if it is male?

Will they roam war-ravaged countries, looking for widows?

Will they become celibate monks?

Will they swear never to fool Mother Nature again?

9 comments :

  1. What a beautiful job you've done of raising all these questions. It's something I've thought a bit about, of course, but not much past the injustice and the "but how does that work?" part.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Will they worship women because of their scarcity, and grant them equal, or even superior, rights?"
    "Will they form male harems serving a single woman?"
    Sigh ... if only I were 30 years younger.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Um -- I believe you forgot to subtract out the gay women, so the imbalance would be back to near the original 30 million.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mali, it's possible that they will discover the attractions of older women....

    Anonymous, while I was thinking about this post, I took into account the gay women of the one-child generation, and then forgot them at the writing stage. Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cynically, I'm betting on kidnappings and rapes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sounds like the premise of a Margaret Atwood novel...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anybody know Margaret Atwood's address?

    ReplyDelete
  8. All very interesting...but I have to say that the "Safe,legal and rare" line is a sweet delusion: a wishful thought but a practical impossibility. Any medical procedure becomes proportionately safer the more frequently it is performed -there is a lot of evidence in support of this. So clearly "safe" and "rare" do not go well together. As for "legal" and "rare" here you have an even more vexed equation since the real world fulfillment of that is not "legal, but rarely chosen for good and sound reasons" which is presumably what you mean but "legal, but for all practical purposes unavailable" which is the situation in many parts of the country. In the real world unless there is demonstrable use and hence advocacy for abortion clinics they are likely to become - indeed are becoming - few and far between making legality moot since it is trumped by availability.

    ReplyDelete