Plan Canada’s recent mass media initiative is well known across the country. From television commercials to sidewalk solicitors, the global children’s charity’s new campaign, “Because I Am a Girl,” proudly announces that its purpose is “to unleash the power of girls and women,” thereby ameliorating the condition of the fairer sex in the third world. According to their promotional material: “When a girl is educated, nourished and protected, she shares her knowledge and skills with her family and community, and can forever change the future of a nation.” Their bold slogan expresses the same sentiment: “It only takes ONE girl to change the world.”
Although there is a something vaguely adolescent about this campaign, its goals are surely laudable. If they can harness social media to deliver a payload of girl power to real-world problems, so much the better. But, for all of its
well-meaning zeal, Plan Canada has a woefully inadequate sense of the real dilemma. The third-world does not just lack adequate protection and education for women, it lacks women: the number of female births in this part of the world is in steep and rapid decline.
This open secret of the developing world’s dire demographics is brought into clear focus in Mara Hvistendahl’s arresting new book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. This exposé reveals that the there are over 160 million girls who were never born in countries such as India and China. The absence of these girls was not caused by a shortage of foreign aid: rather, this drastic gender disparity is the direct result of sex-selective abortions. The cultural preference for male children in these countries has led to a hidden holocaust that fits every definition of a hate crime: when an unborn girl is aborted in this part of the world, it is often because she is a girl.
If there were ever an evil which feminists should fight, it is surely this. And yet, self-identifying feminists remain silent about the slaughter of their unborn sisters in Asia. It would be a mistake, though, to characterize this silence as a failure, a tragedy, or even a paradox of modern feminism. For, having committed themselves to defending the “right to choose,” feminists must now defend that euphemistic choice, even if it the choice results in the murder of unborn daughters just because they are not sons. For such ideologues, girls’ lives must be sacrificed in the name of “woman’s rights.”
If Western feminism gives ideological cover and material support for the sex-selective tribalism of the third world, it is not an unforeseeable and unintended consequence. Instead, this improbable alliance springs from a shared antipathy: they are both misogynistic, each in its own way. The latter’s misogyny is evident enough, and it makes sense that male heirs would be sought in a culture where women are little more than chattel to be sold with dowries or disgracefully disposed of through honour killings. But modern feminism is also misogynistic. In fact, the entire movement harbours a deep contempt for that which makes woman what they are: their special vocation to be the beating heart of the family itself.
Feminists can champion “women” only because they first tendentiously re-define the very meaning of womanhood. It is no accident that from pornography to prostitution, feminists actually side against women, all while promising them empowerment. When “women’s rights” collide with the well-being of actual women, feminists will call these oppressions a privilege, and defend coercion, exploitation, and abuse in the name of choice.
Thus, the epidemic of prenatal female infanticide sweeping across the developing world is not the antithesis of modern feminism – it is its perfect symbol: women are choosing against women, all in the name of women’s rights. The “liberation” of women in the West in the last century will make the world liberated from women in our own time. Sex-selective abortion will soon produce a continent with a gender ratio that will make the warmongering Spartans of ancient Greece look like a knitting circle. If it takes it only takes one girl to change the world, modern feminists have deprived us of 160 million chances to change.