First, a wretched tale of contemporary motherhood from Elle, by way of Kausfiles:
Pink Is the New Blue: Maybe I'm out of it, but I was unaware that parents now want girls, not boys. That's the buried lede in Ruth Shalit Barrett's mildly horrifying Elle piece on "Gender Disappointment":I read the article and found it more than mildly horrifying. All manner of awful things are going on here. At one point author Barrett asks, "Whatever happened to unconditional love? Aren’t kids supposed to represent more than the easy fulfillment of their parents’ dreams?“
Seventyone percent of American families who use MicroSort—which is still in clinical trials—want a daughter. ...[snip] ... “The era of wanting a first-born male is gone, not to return,” founder Ronald Ericsson, MD, has said.
What’s behind the modern-day girl fetish? One explanation: Women envision a brighter future for their daughters than they do for their sons. Boys are practically the underdogs these days, having fallen behind girls on nearly every measure of academic achievement, from college attendance to high school graduation rates. ...[snip]
“The way society is now—I feel there’s a preference for girls,” says Linda Heithaus, a marine biologist from Hollywood, Florida, who has two sons and is contemplating doing IVF/PGD in the hope of getting a girl. “They can do everything a boy can do, plus you can dress them up. It’s almost like, to fit in, you need to have one.” Girls, in other words, are boys plus. They can play sports and have careers, and you can dress them in pink and take them to tea at the American Girl café. What’s not to like? [E.A.]
Others link the yearning to women’s belief that they’ll have a richer lifelong relationship with a daughter than a son. ...
Girls are boys plus? That's one way to look at it. I don't quite believe this trend (though some of my Westside yuppie friends confirm it). It seems to me men still have a lot of advantages, the lack of a mommy track being only the most obvious.
A couple of dispiriting anecdotes from the piece:
It took Lewis four tries, each costing $1,500, to become pregnant. Upon hearing the good news—about the girl-boy twins—she went shopping. “I didn’t buy the boy anything,” she says. Instead she stocked up on pink paraphernalia for her daughter, already named Cassandra. “I bought her jewelry and a little bracelet with her name on it. I was planning her first Halloween. She was going to be a little ballerina.”
As it turned out, the sonographer had made an error. Lewis got a delivery room surprise: twin boys. “I was in hysterics. I felt like somebody had died. The nurse had to send over a psychiatric social worker,” she says.
At home with her baby boys and her two-year-old son, Lewis’ anguish deepened. She was put on Prozac, but it didn’t help. “I stayed in my room. I drew the drapes. I felt like a funeral should be held.” The low point was when the twins had to be circumcised. “I thought, Here we are with two penises when there should not have been two. I got a lot of preaching,” she adds. “People would say, ‘You have two healthy infants. How ungrateful can you be?'" [. . .]The mom of three-year-old Isaac and two-year-old Isaiah, who’s expecting another boy on December 15, has put a frowny-face icon next to her due date. “I hate my life,” she writes. “My family is complete in reality but not in my heart.” She is considering giving all three of her boys up for adoption: “I want to give them to someone who can actually love them.”
Many of these women are aborting on the basis of the baby's sex, and more often than not the aborted babies are boys. Missing from the piece is the fathers' perspective. I'm not sure whether his status as nonentity is a symptom or a cause of this pathology.
Second, from NPR, another gender-related story, from Japan. I can't help but think that these stories are related:
O brave new world. Read the rest.
Away from the strutting are the retiring wallflowers, a quiet army of sweet young men with floppy hair and skinny jeans. These young men are becoming known as Japan's "herbivores" — from the Japanese phrase for "grass-eating boys" — guys who are heterosexual but who say they aren't really interested in matters of the flesh.
They are drawn to a quieter, less competitive life, focusing on family and friends — and eschewing the macho ways of the traditional Japanese male.
They include men such as Yukihiro Yoshida, a 20-something economics student, who is a self-confessed herbivore. "I don't take initiative with women, I don't talk to them," he says, blushing. "I'd welcome it if a girl talked to me, but I never take the first step myself."
Multiple recent surveys suggest that about 60 percent of young Japanese men — in their 20s and early 30s — identify themselves as herbivores. Their Sex and the City is a television show called Otomen, or Girly Guys. The lead character is a martial arts expert, the manliest guy in the whole school. But his secret passions include sewing, baking and crocheting clothes for his stuffed animals. [. . .]
"In a sense, their fathers neglected their families. They were involved in Japanese-style salaryman lifestyles, going out with their bosses every night, while herbivores are closer to their families and friends," Fukasawa says.
But there are fears about the financial and social impact of herbivores. Their low levels of spending and lack of interest in sex invoke two of Japan's biggest problems: its lackluster economy and declining birthrate. Herbivores like to be friends with women — but for many, that's as far as it goes.
In the streets of Harajuku, Alex Fujita explains why he is not interested in taking it any further.
"Nowadays, women have more education and enjoy working. Women are scary now," he says.
Related: The end of men, The end of men, part 2
h/t: Pundit, AS
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