China has 32 million more boys than girls, which is a major gender gap leading to increased crimes because parent face strict birth limits abort to have sons. This imbalance will eventually lead to problems such as young men unable to find female partners, as mentioned by the British Medical Journal. If there are highly sexed young men, then there is a higher chance of committing crimes. In a study of analysis of China’s census data for 2015, the male population under aged 20 exceeded female populations under 20 by 32 million. The same study also mentioned that China has 119 males born every year for 100 girl compared to 107 to 100 for industrialized countries. Professors of the study mentioned that nothing can be done to prevent this imminent generation of excess men. The hugest gap of boy-girl population was in the age group of 1 to 4 years, which means that China has to now grapple with the effects of the imbalance when these children reach the productive age in around 20 years. In 1970s, strict birth controls were imposed by the government of China to limit the growth of its huge populations, as they considered that resources are limited especially, land and increasing strains were needed to improve the conditions of the populations. The government claims that the policy prevented an increase of 400 million births in the country which is the most populous in the world with a population if 1.3 billion. But families, especially the one in rural areas, have a strong preference of a male heir and infanticide of a baby girl becomes a big problem. Due to that, in some parts of China, government allowed couples to have second child if their first baby was a girl.
As science advanced, sonograms were prevalent in recent years, which allow parents to learn the gender of the fetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and this resulted in increased abortions based on sex. Abortion in China is legal and widely practiced. China banned the tests to determine the gender of the fetus for non-medical reasons, but they remained popular and commonly used especially by underground private clinics in the countryside. In a number of countries, abortion is banned after 12 or 24 weeks of pregnancy until and unless the mother has a risk of losing her life, whereas, laws in China do not openly prohibit or define late-term abortion.
.The debate has been a popular one for China’s gender imbalance and preference for males. Families also hide the birth of daughters and never register them with authorities so that they can legally try to have a son, which results in complicating the population problem.
According to an article published by the Guardian in 2011, China’s preference for sons stretches back to centuries. The article highlights a case of Chen Xingziao who had a baby girl and the in-laws refused to accept the grand child based on her gender and even refused to see her or bring her home. The article also mentions that boys are given preference over girls in terms of food and healthcare as well and the gap has been soaring in the past two decades as people are aborting female fetuses even though the sex-selective abortion is not legal.
In 1980s the ratio was 108 males’ births to every 100 female birth, and by 2000 it soared up to 120 males to more than 130 males per 100 female birth especially in provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi and Shaanxi. The result of this gap is that there are 35 million missing women. There are now 10 million of men who will not find a female partner. The gender differences are vast in China in the way males and females are perceived and the way they are treated and impact of it is spreading till the professional lives. In an article by the guardian, a women, Cao Ju, was refused a job on the basis of being a woman which enraged her as she was qualifying and needy for the job. According to a survey by All-China Women’s Federation 2011, 90% of female students face discrimination by the lawyers. Although the law states equal rights, but in reality the ideology of companies follow the “women not wanted” philosophy.
In China, the education takes 12 years to complete which includes primary, junior secondary and senior secondary stages. According to a research, the gender gap is particularly high in secondary stage and the reasons are as follows. Opportunity cost of sending girls to school is high. According to Li and Tsang (2002), the transition in the market to a market oriented economy has made the enterprises to hire young female workers at low rates, with a low education background in manufacturing or services sectors, especially in the coastal cities which are booming. Additionally, rural villages and the towns are also developing small scale manufacturing facilities and factories which require young female workforce with little or no education. Knigth and Li (1996) argue that girls are family helpers and education is a high opportunity cost considering they are treated the way that they should work and earn to support the families. This means that the social status of the women may be evolving but still remains as a lower one in the developing countries and China’s culture represent one of those. While growing up, males and females are given different treatment based on the expected return they will bring when they grow up.
Barbara Ehrenreich mentions in her article. Global Woman, that due to globalization, women are seen as never before. There is increasing migration of women from poor countries to rich countries to seek work and low standard jobs where they serve as maids, nannies or sex workers. This shows the kind of support women are able to provide themselves. Given the condition in China we can relate what she calls the “worldwide gender revolution”, as women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners of the families and provide for the families. In more than half of the American families, it was estimated that women were the sole primary caretaker of the family. This is what we can observe in Chinese culture as well that despite not accepting birth of a female child and not giving due educational attention that a child needs, the women are struggling for a social status through work and by providing for the families.
An interesting contrast presented in the article was the attempt to explain that why does these women take the lower end jobs after migration and why is there a need for such market? The answer is that in the other half of the world, the gender gap is revolving positively and Western Women are taking paid jobs in professional careers, hence, they need more help in domestic work and in taking care of the children. Comparatively, women in poor countries have incentives to migrate to those countries as poverty pushes them away from their own country added with the mistreatment they face in the local culture.
The other article, Gender and Anthropology, they talk about the waves of feminism and how they impacted the gender differences and role of women. In 1960s and 1970s there was a wave of feminism which made women prominent in a number of ways. Studying the Chinese culture explained how the role of women differs in every sphere of life including religion, kinship, migration, technology and sexuality.
For household wealth, the variable is the importance for child’s education and that is directly related to the gender of the child. In Chinese culture which follows a patriarchal society system, the woman moves into the husband’s house which therefor benefits from investments in wife’s education while son’s education is directly beneficial for the own families. Education and occupation have a direct link and therefor it is perceived that there is greater return in education sons than compared to education girls as sons will directly return something on investment. This argument explains why there are more chances of girls from poor families to receive less education as the daughter’s moving away is seen as a threat to investment done on their upbringing.
Chinese has a pro-son bias, as many researchers have addressed this, based n different cultural factors. Families without sons are called “Died out”. The Chinese follow a lineage system, with a patriarchal society which causes pro-son bias while growing up of children, especially in schooling decisions. Song et al (2006) puts the argument in the way that son is seen as an investment while daughter is a consumption good. To explain this idea, as we already mentioned that girls are married of hence it is seen as a loss to invest in them. It is however very difficult to trace the origin of these traditions and beliefs.
China has been center of attention for anthropologists due to its pro-son bias culture and importantly because of its one child policy and the implications it had on the abortion rate in the country despite legal issues. China’s culture, if compared, lies on the sphere of a developing country as women are migrating out and the social status is not yet developed for them and a huge gender gap is evident on multiple levels such as jobs and education, especially secondary education which is more costly. Women in China share similar values and job patterns as women in other part of developing countries, and exhibit different traits and job pattern from Women in Western Countries which are more developed.
In conclusion, the paper highlights gender issues in China and the similarities and differences in females in China and the Western countries, and the differences that have evolved with time which have been important part of the feminism movements.
Branigan, Tania. "China's great gender crisis." 02 Novmeber 2011. The Guardian. 07 December 2014 <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/02/chinas-great-gender-crisis>.
Liang, Yongjia. "Religious Revival in Rural China: Ethnographic Reflections on the State and Morality." The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology (2014): 391-395.
Watson, Rubie. "Families in China: Ties That Bind?" Princeton University. Harvard University, 2007.