Sunday, February 5, 2012

Unnatural Selection - Jennifer Roback Morse

Jennifer Roback Morse | Monday, 6 February 2012

Unnatural Selection

A book by a pro-choice feminist faces up to an unintended consequence of the West's fertility war.

This brave and timely book has many strengths and one glaring, but understandable, weakness. The strength of this book is the reporting. Mara Hvistendahl, a liberal, pro-choice feminist, painstakingly documents the catastrophic consequences of the worldwide “choice” for male babies: gender imbalance leading to prostitution, sex slavery, and male frustration and aggression. The weakness of this book is the political analysis. She doesn’t understand how deeply Roe v. Wade changed American political culture, particularly within the conservative movement broadly conceived. But both these strengths and weaknesses work together to yield an honest and courageous book that should be read by anyone who considers himself (or herself) well informed.

Let’s start with the strengths. Hvistendahl is a very honest reporter. She became aware of the gender-imbalance problem while living in China as a journalist. She recounts how she visited a grade-school classroom to write an article on the solar heating system being installed in the school. She found herself in a “classroom full of smiling boys. I was tempted to abandon the solar power article and interview the teachers about the school’s population.” That experience repeated itself so many times that she couldn’t stand it anymore. Her journalist instincts required an investigation of the imbalanced sex ratio in Chinese society.

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