May 31, 2008
"Someone wins, someone doesn't win, that's life," Nancy Kopp, Maryland's treasurer, told the Washington Post. "But women don't want to be totally dissed." She was talking about her political candidate, Hillary Clinton. Democratic women are feeling metaphorically battered by the Obama campaign. "Healing The Wounds Of Democrats' Sexism," as the Boston Globe headline put it, will not be easy. Geraldine Ferraro is among many prominent Democrat ladies putting up their own money for a study from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard to determine whether Senator Clinton's presidential hopes fell victim to party and media sexism. How else to explain why their gal got clobbered by a pretty boy with a resume you could print on the back of his driver's license, a Rolodex apparently limited to neo-segregationist racebaiters, campus Marxist terrorists and indicted fraudsters, and a rhetorical surefootedness that makes Dan Quayle look like Socrates. "On this Memorial Day," said Barack Obama last Monday, "as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes - and I see many of them in the audience here today…"
Hey, why not? In Obama's Cook County, Illinois, many fallen heroes from the Spanish-American War still show up in the voting booths come November. It's not unreasonable for some of them to turn up at an Obama campaign rally, too.
But what of the fallen heroine? If it's any consolation to Senator Clinton, she's not the only female to find that social progress is strangely accommodating of old-time sexism. There was a front-page story in London last week about a British Indian couple in Birmingham - she's 59, he's 72 - who'd had twins through in vitro fertilization and then abandoned the babies at the hospital when they turned out to be daughters, announcing their plans to fly back to India for another round of IVF in hopes of getting a boy. In the wake of the media uproar, the parents now claim something got "lost in translation" and have been back to the hospital to visit the wee bairns. But think of mom and dad as the Democratic party and the abandoned daughters as Hillary, and it all makes sense.
There's a lot of that about. Sex-selective abortion is a fact of life in India, where the gender ratio has declined to 1,000 boys to 900 girls nationally, and as low as 1,000 boys to 300 girls in some Punjabi cities. In China, the state-enforced "one child" policy has brought about the most gender-distorted demographic cohort in global history, the so-called guang gun - "bare branches." If you can only have one kid, parents choose to abort girls and wait for a boy, to the point where in the first generation to grow to adulthood under this policy there are 119 boys for every 100 girls. In practice, a "woman's right to choose" turns out to mean the right to choose not to have any women.
And what of the Western world? Between 2000 and 2005, Indian women in England and Wales gave birth to 114 boys for every 100 girls. A similar pattern seems to be emerging among Chinese, Korean, and Indian communities in America. "The sex of a firstborn child in these families conformed to the natural pattern of 1.05 boys to every girl, a pattern that continued for other children when the firstborn was a boy," wrote Colleen Carroll Campbell in the St Louis Post-Dispatch the other day. "But if the firstborn child was a girl, the likelihood of a boy coming next was considerably higher than normal at 1.17-to-1. After two girls, the probability of a boy's birth rose to a decidedly unnatural 1.51-to-1."
By midcentury, when today's millions of surplus boys will be entering middle age, India and China are expected to account for a combined 50 percent of global GDP. On present trends, they will be the most male-heavy societies that have ever existed. As I wrote in my book America Alone, unless China's planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, what's going to happen to all those excess men? As a general rule, large numbers of excitable lads who can't get any action are not a recipe for societal stability. Unless the Japanese have invented amazingly lifelike sex robots by then (think Austin Powers's "fembots"), we're likely to be in a planet-wide rape epidemic and a world of globalized industrial-scale sex slavery. And what of the Western world? Canada and Europe are in steep demographic decline and dependent on immigration to sustain their populations. And - as those Anglo-Welsh statistics suggest - many of the available immigrants are already from male-dominated cultures and will eventually be male-dominated numbers-wise, too: circa 2020, the personal ads in the Shanghai classifieds seeking SWF with good sense of humor will be defining "must live locally" as any zipcode this side of Mars.
Smaller families may mean just a boy or a girl for liberal Democrats, but in other societies it means just a boy. The Indian writer Gita Aravamudan calls this the "female feticide." Colleen Carroll Campbell writes that abortion, "touted as the key to liberating future generations of women," has become instead "the preferred means of eradicating them". And, while it won't eradicate all of them, Philip Longman, a demographer of impeccably liberal credentials, put the future in a nutshell in the title of his essay: "The Return Of Patriarchy."
Enlightened progressives take it for granted that social progress is like technological progress - that women's rights are like the internal combustion engine or the jet aeroplane: once invented they can't be uninvented. But that's a careless assumption. There was a small, nothing story out of Toronto this week - the York University Federation of Students wants a campus-wide ban on any pro-life student clubs. Henceforth, students would be permitted to debate abortion only "within a pro-choice realm", as the vice-president Gilary Massa put it. Nothing unusual there. A distressing number of student groups are inimical to free speech these days. But then I saw a picture of the gung-ho abortion absolutist: Gilary Massa is a young Muslim woman covered in a hijab.
On such internal contradictions is the future being built. By "The Return Of Patriarchy," Philip Longman doesn't mean 1950s sitcom dads. No doubt Western feminists will be relieved to hear that.
© 2008 Mark Steyn