Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Cautionary Tale

There once was a society that considered children of a particular sort, who could be born into any family, to have very little value. Parents rejoiced upon discovering that a child was not one of them. When medical technology became advanced enough to identify these children in the womb, many parents chose to abort them and to try again for a different sort of child. Other parents gave these children away, allowing them to be adopted by foreigners who did not have the same cultural prejudices. In a few tragic cases, these children became victims of infanticide.

By now, some readers may have guessed that I am not just telling a creative story but describing the actual situation of girls in China. The ratio of male births to female births in China is now about 120 to 100, and the practice of sex-selective abortion is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, despite governmental efforts to prevent it. This sad tale illustrates what happens when widespread prejudice meets modern prenatal technology.

I have to wonder what might happen if a recent proposal in the UK for in-vitro selection of female embryos, which is intended to reduce the likelihood of giving birth to an autistic child because more boys than girls are identified as autistic, were to became a common practice in Western countries. (In the United States, it is already being done at some clinics.) Maybe in about 25 years, lonely Chinese bachelors might be making arrangements to bring mail-order autistic brides from the West. If our society's attitude toward the autistic minority population has not improved by then, I expect such brides would consider themselves lucky to have the chance to emigrate and get away from the prejudiced country where they grew up.

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6 Comments:

  • That's something. In China parents are more afraid of having a girl than having an autistic boy. In the UK they are more afraid of having an autistic boy than of having a girl. But it's all about shame isn't it? Ashamed to have only a girl. Ashamed to have an autistic son.

    The problem with Chinese bachelors is already here, as I understand it. And there are a lot more Chinese than English... so eventually, maybe it will be 40 year old lonely Chinese bachelors asking for 18 year old English left-overs... some of whom would be autistic and so not wanted for breeding stock in the UK.

    Oh, joy, it's a brave new world.
    But you are right the girls would probably be happy to get away from such an autistics hating society, they'd be going to a place where women were rare and treated as special, one would suppose.

    By Blogger Autism Diva, at 12:59 PM  

  • That's something. In China parents are more afraid of having a girl than having an autistic boy. In the UK they are more afraid of having an autistic boy than of having a girl. But it's all about shame isn't it? Ashamed to have only a girl. Ashamed to have an autistic son.

    The problem with Chinese bachelors is already here, as I understand it. And there are a lot more Chinese than English... so eventually, maybe it will be 40 year old lonely Chinese bachelors asking for 18 year old English left-overs... some of whom would be autistic and so not wanted for breeding stock in the UK.

    Oh, joy, it's a brave new world.
    But you are right the girls would probably be happy to get away from such an autistics hating society, they'd be going to a place where women were rare and treated as special, one would suppose.

    By Anonymous Ms Clark, at 1:01 PM  

  • There was a story on the news recently where they are finding such a lack of females for marriage in China that the males are marrying cousins. Lots of other issues arise with that choice. There are many babies born now with mental retardation, among other disabilities...now that is scary.

    By Blogger Mom26children, at 3:19 PM  

  • The comparison with China is very apt. I blogged the original news report in the Times back in June. To it's credit the normally autism hating, MMR blaming, Wakefield loving Mail did run a story by Ginny Bovell after this entitled "We don't need to wipe out autism...we need to care more"

    By Anonymous mike stanton, at 6:33 PM  

  • I wrote something similar (prenatal sex selection against female babies in India) in the comments of my prenatal protest entry back in...what was it, June?

    There are some interesting parallels in these situations I think. For one thing, the preference for a boy baby or a neurotypical baby has a lot to do with the perceptions of the parents due to the culture they live in.

    If girls were given equal oppurtunities to reach their potential and the issues that make their lives difficult were eliminated, then perhaps having girl babies would be equally as welcome as having boy babies in the cultures that currently prefer male children.

    It's very much the same with autism, isn't it? If autistics are percieved to have less value due to our culture, and if our culture denies them oppurtunities to reach their full potential, it would *seem* that their place in life is less valuable, and their birth would viewed as negative.

    If we lived in a society that understood and valued autistic abilities in the same way we value neurotypical abilities there would be little excuse to pump all this money into research that seeks a 'cure' (and in my humble opinion, the closest thing to a 'cure' we're ever likely to see = prenatal screening.)

    By Blogger Mum is Thinking, at 2:33 AM  

  • I am a young woman with AS. I cannot stand prejudices of any kind because with discrimination
    brings opression, bullying and abuse.

    In our society now, people have been educated enough about prejudices and injustice to know what is right and wrong. Still people continue along with their attitudes and why? I think because it makes em feel better. Every one has some kind of inferiority complex but how ignorant can some people get!

    I come from a middle class family and {That's a stereotype} but what I am saying is that I'm not a stuck up snob nosed bitch neither and I walk over trash.

    I beleive every one is equal and should be treated as such. It isn't fair that some people are given much more oppurtunity and chance in life than others.

    The people who are disadvantaged -is often because they are different. They have disability or different colour skin, she's a girl - he's a boy. I'm a woman - he's a man!

    My mom was a single parent. I grew up in a poor family. My childhood was extremely dysfucntional and traumatic.

    I have alot of people in my family that are 'upper class' or what you call it - They are successful in regards to wealth, status, education and confidence. They seem to think they know everything and they don't. Only of themselves. Their own privledge.

    I am not well educated. I also have global learning deficits - a learning disability.

    Yet, I am not as igornant as some -
    'so called' professionals. They have recieved so much training and yet still they are full of crap. They don't seem to understand people or is it they don't really care??

    I have alot to learn but what I do know is - My 'heart is in the right place.' I cannot stand for injustices and discrimination.

    I have put up with listening to others people bullshit for too long. I don't say anything because I don't like to judge people.

    However, in regards to my own life circumstances - I have decided to become a feminist. Particulary in regards to those people with mental disabilites or AS who get taken advantage of.

    I also think men should stop focusing on feminism
    and stand up for themselves instead of blaming women and feminist in society for thier own problems - Get a back bone. Learn of how your culturally discriminated against as man in society and learn how to looks after your son. Be the Father your supposed to be. Same goes for women, I know, there is alot of single Dads out there stuggling.

    I am a bi-sexual woman. I like men. However, I feel like I really hate some - No! not anymore because
    Instead of trying to change other peoples attitudes and beliefs - All I can do is change mine.

    This is a beginning for me of stopping a cycle of hate and self blame.

    If you would like to read further. I will be staring my own blog or discussion. I would be interested to know of what people thought of what I think. I am sure I can learn alot from others.

    By Blogger Jessi Lauren, at 2:56 PM  

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