Anyone familiar with Asian culture already knows about the gender imbalance going on in many Asian countries, that there’s statistically more boys in countries like China and India, than there are girls, where there’s a cultural bias for having boys. So it was rather a surprise when this article from a Korean newspaper Korea JoongAng Daily came across the 8Asians email list, stating that there’s now a preference for baby girls instead of boys in South Korea. It’s so surprising that the first reaction on our mailing list, was to question the authenticity of the report. It turns out 8Asians reported on this trend in South Korea back in 2007, and it’s due to the hard work of the Korean government with media campaigns promoting the benefits of having daughters.
In China, the boy to girl birth ratio is 1.133, in India, 1.12 compared with the rest of the world at 1.07. South Korea has managed to bring down their ratio from a 1.124 in 1975 down to 1.057, almost inline with the global average.
In the past, 8Asians authors have also pointed out that 89% of Indian women opted for abortion after finding out they were carrying a girl and that there was the hope that the attitudes of one Bollywood couple could help sway the cultural preference for boys to girls. But it may take more than one Bollywood couple to get India the results that South Korea has seen. Don’t even get me started on China.
Asking the happy couple whether they want a boy or girl is customary in America, especially just before the mom-to-be goes in for an ultrasound. It’s no different for gay couples, and NBC’s new show “The New Normal” tackled the question of boy versus girl in their latest show, “The XY Factor”. The show tries to paint a picture where the typical male wants their baby to turn out to be a boy (for all the boy bonding events that would happen during childhood), and the typical female wants the baby to turn out to be a girl (for similar parallel reasons). But of course real life isn’t that simple, and there are plenty of women that want boys and plenty of men that want to have little girls.
So I have a little confession to make.
When my husband and I decided to have a baby, my immediate thought was that I was going to have a little boy baby. As a Chinese immigrant son, even growing up in America wasn’t enough to bypass all that cultural programming. I actually looked up ways to increase your chances to have a baby boy. Why am I relaying this story? Because if there were any Chinese person who shouldn’t have been biased to having a boy, it should have been me. I’m liberal, gay, well-educated, raised in America. And yet, like the character David in “The New Normal”, I saw myself teaching my little boy everything I liked to do, and sharing my passions with a mini-me.
So you can imagine the surprise when we got our ultrasound results, and we found out we were having a little girl. It’s a little like grieving, the same way parents do when they find out their child is gay. With the parents of a gay child, their dreams of their child’s wedding and of having grandchildren immediately disappear, and with me, those scenes in my head of a little boy playing with me went up in smoke. My immediate thoughts went to how was I going to be able to relate to a little girl, and how could I protect her from all the threats and crazy people in the world?
But my little girl is seven now, and it’s been the most incredible seven years of my life. I wouldn’t trade the experience I have had with her for anything, not even to have had a little boy instead. That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider having a boy, or would think less of a boy if I were to have another child now. But having a little girl taught me more about myself and about the world than I could have believed, and opened my eyes to what it is to be a female in our society. I look at everything through her eyes now, and that’s a completely new world for me.
I still worry that the world will be harder on her because she’s female, and I worry about how many more predators there are out there who prey on females. I know I’ll worry constantly about her, her entire life, but that’s part of being a parent as well.
If you think your baby should be a boy, I can only feel sorry for you, because you don’t know what you’re missing. Having a girl is going to change your life, and for the better. So consider me one of the converted believers, like the many South Koreans, who now believe it’s just as good, if not better to have a little girl baby.
Flickr credit: babasteve